I LOVE hot cross buns – especially when they’re toasty and dripping with salted butter. They’re just heavenly! But the worst thing about making them is waiting for that pesky yeast to rise – which can take anything from half an hour to half a day! And when you have a craving that is literally forever! So I’ve cut straight to the chase with this recipe – it’s one that comes all the way from my standard 6 Home Economics class when we first made Chelsea Buns using a scone dough recipe. It’s so simple, quick and delicious! With no proving, knocking down and what have you.

My buns (snigger snigger) have swirls of sticky caramel in them along with pockets of chocolate chips, candied zest and flaked almonds – which can easily be tailored to whatever your heart desires! Oooo white chocolate! Chopped Turkish apricots! Pistachios!

Although all of our focus this week is on Easter, just a reminder that it is also Fairtrade Fortnight. So the Fairtrade SA team challenged me to make a recipe using their Fairtrade chocolate, rooibos tea and a yummy energy drink. Boy, what a challenge! But coincidentally they all fitted quite easily into this recipe – chocolate chips in the buns and rooibos and the drink in the glaze. My favourite part of buying Fairtrade, is that it takes a lot of the guilt out of enjoying a slab of chocolate 🙂 Okay fine, maybe two slabs. Point is, we can make a big difference by making a small choice.

Caramel Choc Chip Hot Cross Chelsea Buns

3 cups (360g) cake flour

2 tbsp (30ml) white sugar

1 tbsp (15ml) baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground mixed spice

120g butter, cubed

300ml buttermilk

1 large egg

FILLING

½ tin (200g) caramel spread (like dulce de leche)

½ cup (50g) flaked almonds

2 tbsp mixed candied peel

1 cup (150g) chopped good-quality dark chocolate (I used Fairtrade)

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

TOPPINGS

1/2 cup (180g) honey, warmed

1/4 cup strong rooibos tea (optional)

1/4 cup water (I used a Fairtrade drink because of the Fairtrade challenge)

1 cup (130g) icing sugar, sifted

1 tbsp (approx.) buttermilk

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Combine the flour, white sugar, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and mix well.
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Combine the buttermilk and egg separately then add to the dry ingredients. Use a knife and cutting movements to incorporate everything until it forms a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead roughly 10 times or until a smooth dough forms. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20cm wide on a lightly floured surface.
Spread caramel over the dough then sprinkle with almonds, peel, chocolate and spices.
Carefully roll your dough up to form a long sauasage and pinch the edges to seal.  Using a sharp serrated knife, cut slices roughly 4-cm thick and pack them together into your lined baking tin. Make sure to pack the buns together quite snugly.
Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden. Combine the honey, rooibos tea (if using) and water and simmer until  and brush over the warm buns.

TIP  To make the crosses, mix the icing sugar and buttermilk and place in a piping bag. Pipe crosses over the tops of the buns.