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By Georgina Hayden
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The night before you want to make your buns, soak the sour cherries in the kirsch or orange juice.
The next day, warm the milk and butter in a pan over a medium heat until the butter has melted. Take it off the heat and cool slightly, then whisk in the egg and compôte. Set aside.
Drain the cherries (discarding the soaking liquid) and put them in a bowl with the strong bread flour, cinnamon, cocoa powder, yeast, chocolate chips and caster sugar, along with 1 teaspoon of fine salt. Mix well.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk mix. Stir it together with a fork until it forms a smooth dough.
Dust your work surface with flour, turn out the dough and knead for 10 minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic.
Lightly butter a clean bowl and pop in the dough. Cover with greased cling film and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, until it’s doubled in size.
Grease 2 baking trays and line them with baking paper. Tip out the dough onto a floured surface, and knock it back by kneading for 2 more minutes.
Cut the dough in half and, using your hands, roll both into sausages. Slice each into 6 even-sized pieces (12 in total), then roll into balls and place on the baking trays.
Cover with greased clingfilm and prove again in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas 5.
In a bowl, mix the plain flour with water (about 5 tablespoons) until it’s a thick consistency. Put it into a piping bag (or sandwich bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe a cross on each bun.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. When they’re done, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
While the buns are baking, make the glaze. Put the honey and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar in a pan and warm on a low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
Brush on top of the buns a few times to build up a lovely sticky glaze. Leave to cool and serve.