Rosewater-infused sour cherries are kneaded into a spiced dough dotted with dark chocolate and orange zest, then baked into glorious little buns of love. A perfect alternative to the traditional hot cross bun.
Sour Cherry Mixture
Chocolate Bun Dough
Heart Crust Mixture
Sour Cherry Mixture
Place cherries, currants and barberries in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with rosewater and cardamom and gently warm over low heat until fragrant and just beginning to simmer and sizzle. Stir well to coat all fruit in rosewater and spices, then remove from heat and allow dried fruit to soak while preparing the dough.
Chocolate & Orange Bun Dough
Place flour, sugar, salt, spices and yeast in a bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed while adding in softened butter, milk then egg. Mix for 4-5 minutes on low speed until no flour remains in the base of the bowl, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 7-10 minutes. You will know your dough is ready when it passes the windowpane test: stretch the dough between your hands and if a translucent window appears without the dough tearing, it is ready. If not, continue to knead and check at 1-2 minute intervals.
When your dough is ready, tip it out onto a floured benchtop, noting that it may be a little sticky and need a bit of coaxing. Flatten the dough, then sprinkle over dried fruit and chocolate chips. Zest half the orange over the dough, then knead with your hands to evenly mix in these ingredients.
Lightly oil your bowl and place the dough back in it, covering with a damp tea towel. Place the bowl in a warm area and allow to prove for one hour or until doubled in size.
Line two two standard baking trays with baking paper. When you are happy your dough has doubled, tip it out onto a floured benchtop. Divide dough into 12 equal portions, using a dough scraper or knife to assist the process. Gently roll each portion into balls, placing 6 on each tray widely spaced apart. Note this will allow for round buns as seen in these images. If you prefer your buns to snuggle together as they bake, place all 12 on a single tray. This will create a more traditional tear-apart style after they are baked, with soft fluffy insides, but you will forego their cute round shape.
Cover the buns with your damp tea towel, and allow to prove for a second time for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced) and make the heart crust mixture.
Heart Crust Mixture
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl with a hand whisk to form an elastic batter. A thick mixture will result in little hearts that sit proud on top of the buns, as in these recipe images. If you prefer your hearts to lay flat, add an extra teaspoon or two of water to thin the mixture. Note that a sticky thicker mixture can be a little harder to pipe, and may need a little coaxing with a toothpick to obtain a heart shape.
When the buns have doubled in size, place mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 7mm plain nozzle and pipe a single heart over the centre of each bun. If using a single tray, place the buns in the centre of the oven. If using double trays, place one on the middle shelf and the other on the bottom shelf. Bake for 15 minutes then swap the trays over if using two trays. If they have started to brown by this stage, turn the temperature down by 10 degrees. Bake for 22-25 minutes in total or until golden brown. In the meantime, make the glaze, ready for brushing over the buns immediately after removing from the oven.
Place sugar and zest in a small saucepan. Juice orange, discarding (or eating!) the pulp, then place the juice in a measuring jug and add enough water to bring the total amount of liquid to 150ml. Pour juice into saucepan, and simmer ingredients for 5-10 minutes until it thickens to a syrup.
As soon as the buns are removed from the oven, brush the warm syrup over the hot buns using a pastry brush, ensuring each bun is well coated at least 3-4 times. This helps maintain the moisture of the buns and stops them from drying out. You may have a little glaze left over, which can be used for drinks or drizzled over a cake.
Enjoy your delicious heart crust buns warm and fresh from the oven, or keep in an airtight container for 1-2 days to enjoy at a later stage. Remember to reheat or toast them if enjoying them at a later stage, they are perfect warmed up with their gooey chocolatey chunks.