Hot Cross Choux Buns...

It's nearly Easter and I thought I should really get a wriggle on and, you know, do something "eastery". Whilst our main Easter Sunday dinner always tends to be a variation of roast leg of lamb, when it comes to the sweet stuff, I'm more inclined to experiment. This year, I wanted something that was fitting for Easter, like Hot Cross Buns, but suitable for afternoon tea. I guess the original Hot Cross Buns would be suitable too, but somehow they seem more "at home" at the breakfast table. Anyway, I wanted to use the flavours, cinnamon, orange and sultana, in a different way. In a French way maybe? So I came up with these cinnamon choux buns filled with an orange and sultana crème pâtissière. Plenty of flavours, not too sweet and a touch of white chocolate for the obligatory cross on the top. Now, admittedly they don't look as even and uniform as actual hot cross buns, but what they may lack in looks they more than adequately make up for in taste. Read on if you'd like to make these for your Easter afternoon tea.

Hot Cross Choux Buns

Ingredients for 9 buns:

For the choux pastry:

  • 200ml water
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

For the crème pâtissière:

  • 500ml semi skimmed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 50g finely chopped sultanas (yes, you'll have to get the knifes out)
  • zest of one large (or two small) orange(s)

For the decoration (cross):

  • 50g good quality white chocolate
Hot Cross Choux Buns

And here's how it's done:

Starting with the crème pâtissière, because it needs chilling.

  • mix the flour and corn flour together
  • put the milk into a saucepan, add the orange zest and the chopped sultanas
  • on a medium heat, bring the milk to boiling point, then take off the heat
  • put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk until pale, fluffy and doubled in size
  • add the flour mix to the egg mixture
  • once combined, add the hot milk with the sultanas and orange zest to the egg mix whilst constantly whisking
  • return the whole mix back to the saucepan and onto a medium heat
  • you will have to continuously stir the mix with a whisk (do not stop!) until it's thick
  • take the thickened cream off the heat and transfer to a large, shallow dish
  • cover with cling film which should be on the cream to prevent it forming a 'skin'
  • leave to cool before putting into the fridge to chill
Hot Cross Choux Buns

Now for the choux buns:

  • preheat your oven to 220C
  • mix the flour and cinnamon evenly
  • cover a baking tray with baking paper and (using a cookie cutter) draw nine circles of around 6-6.5cm 
  • in a large saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil
  • take the saucepan off the heat and dump all the flour into the water 
  • stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mix starts to come away from the edges
  • transfer the dough to a stand mixer with paddle attachment - this step can also be done by hand if you fancy a bit of a workout, but I'm lazy like that
  • on medium speed, whisk the dough and add the eggs one after another
  • the mix should be even and elastic
  • transfer to a piping bag with a large, round nozzle
  • pipe even amounts into each circle 
  • now put the tray into the oven and bake at 220C for 10 minutes
  • after 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 175C and bake for another 25 minutes
  • once the time is up, turn the oven off and leave the buns to cool in it
Hot Cross Choux Buns

To assemble:

  • cut the choux buns into half
  • put the cream into a piping bag with a large, star-shaped nozzle
  • pipe equal amounts of the cream onto the bottom part of each bun and put the top of the bun onto the cream
  • break the white chocolate into pieces and put into a small, heatproof bowl which should be slightly bigger than your smallest saucepan
  • pour water into the saucepan (it should not touch the bottom of the bowl) and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer
  • now put the bowl with the chocolate on top, and melt whilst stirring 
  • put the chocolate into a piping bag or piping syringe with a small, round nozzle and pipe a cross on top of each bun
  • return the buns to the fridge for half an hour to set
Hot Cross Choux Buns

The recipe might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't as bad as it looks written down. Just consider that I have the attention span of a fruit fly and might lose interest half way through if it really was as long-winded as it looks... So, I hope you like it and might give them a go. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter.

Hot Cross Choux Buns
Hot Cross Choux Buns

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