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Fig & Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

1 cup of plant milk of your choice

¼ cup rice malt syrup + 1 tbsp heated

1 ¼ tsp dried yeast

400 g plain wholemeal flour

½ tsp fine sea salt

½ tsp mixed spice

Zest of an orange, finely grated

50 g dark organic fair-trade chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 70% cocoa, but you could use a higher or lower percentage depending on the sweetness you want)

5 small-medium fresh figs, chopped into 2 mm pieces

2 tbsp plain white flour

2 tbsp water

First of all line a 20 x 20cm square tin with baking paper.

Put the milk and the rice malt syrup into a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the syrup has dissolved into the milk. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly to lukewarm. Add the yeast and whisk with a fork, then set aside while the yeast activates and bubbles form on the surface.

In large bowl, combine the flour, salt and mixed spice. Stir though the orange zest then make a well in the centre.

Pour in the milk mixture and use either a stand mixer on low or your hands to bring together into a smooth dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to a long sausage shape, then cut into 9 evenly sized pieces.

Working with one at a time, take each piece of dough and press it out using your fingers into a long strip about 5cm x 25cm. Take a spoonful of the chopped fig (equal to about half a fig) and spread it over the piece of dough, avoiding the edges and ends. Sprinkle some chocolate over this (it can help to tip your chocolate out onto a plate and divide into 9 portions so you have an even amount in each bun).

Starting at one end, gently roll the strip of dough up, enclosing the fig and chocolate inside and pinching the edges shut with your fingers as you go. Seal at the end and curve the edges under slightly so that you have a smooth round surface on the top of your bun. Place in the prepared tin with the seam underneath.

Repeat with the other pieces of dough until you have all the buns evenly placed in the tin. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel (you don’t want them to dry out) then place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour or until they have doubled in size and filled the tin.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C. Prepare the mixture for the cross by combining the white flour and water in a small bowl until you have a smooth paste. Scrape out into a piping bag. When the buns have risen, snip the corner of the piping bag and carefully pipe crosses over the top of the buns.

Pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until a deep golden brown colour. They will make a hollow sound when tapped, when they are done. Remove from the oven, brush the tops with the melted rice malt syrup, then allow to stand in the tin for a further ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy at once while the centres are all gooey or allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container to reheat and serve later.


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