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  • Sydney
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  • Chef Justin James' Chocolate and Berry Hot Cross Bun Recipe

Chef Justin James' Chocolate and Berry Hot Cross Bun Recipe

As far as Easter recipes go, this chocolate and berry hot cross bun recipe is one of the best.

Chef Justin James

Justin’s global culinary career is as well-rounded as they come. Having worked in the kitchens of Noma, Eleven Madison Park and Bue Hill at Stone Barns, amongst others, his current post, leading the team at Restaurant Botanic, has allowed him to create a space where people can come to sample a four-hour sensory experience tailored to the current micro season. Here he shares with us his chocolate and berry hot cross bun recipe. 

Chocolate and Berry Hot Cross Buns



  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp dried lemon myrtle powder
  • 50 g dried blueberries
  • 50g dried strawberries (diced into small pieces)
  • 325 ml buttermilk (or half yoghurt and half milk)
  • 1 green apple – grated
  • 1 tbsp honey (can substitute with maple syrup)
  • 250 g very strong white bread flour
  • 250 g wholemeal bread flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 ½ tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 200g dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ tsp salt

Hot Cross Pastry 

  • 6 tbs plain flour
  • 5 tbs water
  • 30g cocoa powder


  • 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup


1. Place the orange juice, zest, and lemon myrtle powder in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes to reduce by about half. Add the dried berries and set to one side to absorb the flavour and hydrate.

2. Warm the buttermilk for one minute on high power in the microwave. Stir in the grated apple and honey (or maple syrup).

3. Stand mixer: Place flour, yeast, bicarbonate of soda, Chinese 5 spice, cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl. Briefly mix with the dough hook.  

Add buttermilk mixture and the dried berries in the citrus juice. Mix until a smooth elastic dough forms – 5 to 10 minutes on Speed 2 or low speed of stand mixer.

Check your dough using the windowpane test.

Hand kneading: Alternatively, place flour, yeast, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, Chinese 5 spice, and salt in a large bowl.

Add buttermilk mixture and the dried berries in the citrus juice and mix into a rough dough.

Dust a work surface with flour and knead by hand for 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough.

4. Place the dough in a large, greased mixing bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours until doubled in size. Once it has risen add the chocolate chips into the mix and kneed quickly and gently to even distribute the chocolate chips.

5. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, approx. 75 to 80 g each. Shape into balls and place on a baking tray close together and flatten each ball a little.

6. Cover with greased cling film or a clean tea towel and prove for one hour in a warm place.

5. While the buns are proving, make your hot cross mix. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a jug, add the water and mix well until you have a smooth paste.

7. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C with fan assist.

8. When your buns are ready for the oven, pipe or use a spoon to form the crosses on your buns.

9. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

10. Brush each bun with honey or maple syrup for a shiny glaze, finish with a good pinch of flaky Murray River Pink Salt, and a dusting of lemon myrtle powder. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

If you loved this hot cross bun recipe and are looking for more fun things to cook up for your Easter feast be sure to pop on over to our recipe hub. We're feeling this smoked lamb shoulder with pumpkin hummus recipe and prawn cocktail recipe

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