Soft Plushy Chai Hot Cross Buns

If you have been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that I have recently started up a Chai brand called Chaikra. And given the nature of Hot Cross Buns, I immediately thought of doing a Chai twist to them.

With Easter right around the corner, there is no better way to celebrate than with the classic Hot Cross Buns.

Traditionally hot cross buns are packed with a variety of spices and it felt only natural for us to do a twist on the spices using our Chaikra blend.

I have went with our soul warming blend which isn’t spicy but both blends will work. Should you not be able to access Chaikra please look for a blend that is heavy on the aromatic spices. When I say heavy on the spices, I mean that it should leave you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside and punch you in the face with complexity when you brew yourself a cup of Chai πŸ™‚ Otherwise you might have to add some additional spices to the buns.

In traditional buttermilk pantry fashion, here are some things to note with this recipe, so please excuse the long recipe notes. πŸ˜›

Flavour

This dough is not a heavily spiced one but rather balanced.

The intensity will naturally come to down to how intense you brew the Chai. For a lighter spiced bun, simply add the hot water and let it steep as it cools. For a heavier spiced bun, you can boil the tea in a small pot to extract more flavour and to increase the intensity of the tea.

The choice is yours, but do keep in mind that the glaze will impart additional Chai spice flavour as well.

For those who are unable to get their hands on Chaikra, I have included a replacement using dry spices, whilst not quite the same, it will give you the flavour of Chai.

And if you are looking to go outside the box, you could use earl grey tea, or any flavoured tea that you wish.

The Dough

I use a mix of sourdough starter in this along with dry yeast, you can opt for fully dry yeast if you wish. I will put the notes of that in the recipe. Otherwise on the flip side you could use only starter, but do keep in mind that proofing times will slow significantly so do plan ahead.

The dough is not one that is light and fluffy, rather it is soft and plush, think of a pillow rather than a cloud if you may. It’ll give way when you bite into it leaving you with a spiced lightly sweet treat.

This dough isn’t overly sweet so if you do want it to be a sweeter treat, feel free to increase the amount of sugar in the dough.

Add-ins

I went with a mix of raisins and 70% dark chocolate for that slight bitter sweetness along with acidity from the raisins.

But feel free to go with what you feel. Keep the total weight of the add-ins similar to the recipe and you are good to go.

Some ideas could be a mix of cranberries and dark chocolate. Or maybe even simply using a slightly sweeter chocolate (around the 54% range) for a sweeter treat.

Throw in the zest of an orange for a fruity touch if you’d like or even go with something more traditional like currants, raisins and sultanas.

When using dried fruits, it is essential to soak it in water to soften them slightly. You can soak them in warm water from the tap for an hours or so until they have soften slightly, otherwise you can soak them in cold water overnight.

The aim is to prevent the fruits that may sit on the surface of your buns from drying out and turning into crisp fruit. The sugar content in dried fruits tend to speed up the caramelisation process.

Proofing and Bake

As you might have noticed, the initial proofing requires you to proof until the dough slightly more than doubles yet the final proof before bake requires only for the dough to increase in size by 50-70%.

The first proof is to help with flavour and gluten structure but the second proof is more for the final consistency of the dough. So please try to ensure that you don’t allow your dough to double in size otherwise the dough texture might turn out much lighter than it is meant to be and you’ll also find that they might not be as “moist” as they should be.

If using chocolate in your dough, please do not proof your dough in an highly warm environment. Rule of thumb, if your chocolate is unable to remain solid in that environment, it will not remain solid whilst proofing.

And what that means is you might end up with a mess on your hands as you go to portion and shape the dough into individual buns. Melted chocolate + rolling dough = sticky mess.

Bake time wise, these go for only 15-17mins in the oven. They will not increase in size dramatically as it bakes so do not fret but they should not be dense.

Once out of the oven, it is important to glaze your dough well whilst it is fresh out of the oven and hot.

This helps the glaze set and also allows the buns to absorb this additional moisture.

I like do a double glaze on these buns and they do then to still be slightly tacky to the touch even after they have cooled, but they are delicious because of that additional sweetness and spice flavour from the glaze.

Chaikra is perfect for the glaze because of how fragrant our blend is. Packed with spices which will linger for a long time.

Reheating your buns

This is probably something I don’t really touch on in my recipes but I think half of the hot cross bun journey is enjoying it warm slathered with butter.

Given that’s the case, the way I like to toast them is to slice them in half horizontally, spread a layer of salted butter and toast it face down on a hot surface (a pan or hot plate works well) until nice and brown. And since one can never have too much butter, I love to add a good size of semi cold butter on top of the buns and allow it slowly melt away as I devour them. That mix of cold and warm is just lovely and comforting.

Products used in this recipe

Chaikra Chai is a product that I have spent a lot of time and heart in developing and I hope that you will enjoy using this product. And if you have already purchased this product, I am hoping to provide you with more recipes that will be able to showcase the versatility of this product beyond the everyday brew.

Things to note:

  • The dough is not too sweet, so feel free to add more sugar if you’d like.
  • Please use a good quality Chai tea that is high in spices and aromatic. If you end up using powdered chai, please keep in mind that they are sweeter and have a different flavour.
  • If you are unable to access Chai tea where you are, please refer to the bottom for dry spice alternatives.
  • Eggwash is optional but the extra step does give it a shine if you are after glossy asthetics
  • The syrup glaze is not optional so please do glaze your buns when they are fresh out of the oven, it produces a lovely sticky sweet glaze to the buns and also infuses additional flavour and moisture into the buns. The key is to work quickly as you want the buns to be piping hot out of the oven to allow it to absorb the glaze properly.
  • The recipe calls for sourdough but an alternative using dry yeast has been provided as well.
  • Enjoy your hot cross buns warm and store them in a air tight container or zip lock bag if not consuming on the same day.

Soft Plushy Chai Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12 buns in a 9×13″ baking pan

What you’ll need

Chai brew for the dough

The dough

  • 425g bread flour
  • 185g strained brewed Chaikra chai, cooled to body temp**
  • 30g milk powder
  • 1tbsp cinnamon powder (4.5g)
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 7g salt 
  • 100g Sourdough starter* (dry yeast alternative below)
  • 1 tsp instant yeast 
  • 50g unsalted butter room temp
  • 150g raisins, soak in water until softened 
  • 150g dark chocolate chips, 70%

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp Milk (or water)
  • Small pinch of salt 

Cross

  • 60g ap flour
  • 10g sugar
  • Pinch salt 
  • 50g water
  • 12g oil
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Finishing Chai Glaze

Making it!

Prepare your raisins by soaking them in cold water overnight or in warm water for 30mins – 1hr or until half soft.

Prepare the Chai brew by boiling the Chai tea in a small pot with the water for 3-5 mins until dark. For a lighter Chai flavour, you can simply add boiling water to the tea and let sit until the tea has cooled to body temp. Once the tea has cooled, strain the tea and use the amount of liquid the recipe calls for.

Put all the dough ingredients, minus the chocolate and raisins, into a stand mixer bowl.

Knead dough with a dough hook in stand mixer on medium speed for 10 mins until elastic.

Once dough is at the right texture, fold in the add-ins (chocolate and raisins) using your hands until well dispersed. To do this, simply scatter some of the add-ins on top, give the dough a fold and scatter the rest. Keep folding the dough on itself as though you are trying to make it into a ball until all the add-ins has been incorporated.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover and proof for 1-2hrs until doubled in size.

Divide into 12 balls (approx 100g each)

Line your baking tray with baking paper.

If using sourdough, let you dough proof at room temp for 30mins until 35% bigger before placing it into fridge to proof overnight. Otherwise place into the fridge overnight to proof. Depending on how warm your dough is, you may or may not need to let your dough sit on the counter to proof before placing it into the fridge. The alternative is to simply place it into the fridge directly to proof overnight and should it require further proofing the next day, you can take it out and continue to let it proof at room temp until it is the right size.

Preheat your oven to 200C convection mode

Prepare the egg wash by mixing your egg wash ingredients together until well combined and set aside.

Glaze buns with egg wash before baking

Prepare the cross ingredients by mixing all the ingredients together. Place in to a piping bag or zip lock bag. Snip the tip off and pipe crosses onto the buns.

Once your buns have increased in size by 50%, place tray into oven and reduce the oven temp to 180C.

Bake for 17 mins rotating tray halfway to ensure even baking.

Whilst the buns are baking, prepare the sticky glaze.

Simmer all the glaze ingredients in a pot for 6-7mins or until slightly thickened to a wet glaze texture. 

Immediately glaze buns liberally the moment they are removed from the oven.

Let sit in the tray for 5 mins before removing from tray and transferring to a wire rack to cool until just warm 

Enjoy warm is a slab of butter.

—-

*For non-sourdough verison. Add an additional 50g water and 50g bread flour along with 1 tsp dry yeast. Please note, the proofing times might vary and you may notice that your dough might only need half the amount of time to proof to the expected size. So please adjust accordingly going by visual size.

**If not using Chaikra Chai and you wish to replace it with dry spices, please use regular assam black tea which has been brewed and cooled for the dough (or simply water if you wish) and add the following amount of spices to the dough. Whilst the mix is not going to give you the same flavour as Chaikra, it will still provide your dough with the chai spiced flavour. 2tsp ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.

For the glaze, simply omit the need for tea, add a stick of cinnamon, one star anise, 4 cloves and reduce the syrup to the consistency of a glaze.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi what’s the proof time for non sourdough version?

    Like

  2. Marsha says:

    Could I sub milk steeped with tea in place of the water?

    Like

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