Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Sieve the flour, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and mix well, then stir in the chocolate. Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg, if using, followed by the buttermilk. (If you are using the egg, you will only need about 320ml buttermilk). Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be soft but not wet and sticky.
When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured board. Wash and dry your hands. Knead lightly for a few seconds - just enough to tidy it up - then flip it over on to a large, heavy baking tray. Alternatively, cut into 6-8 individual pieces.
Pat the dough into a round about 2.5cm deep and cut a cross on it, or shape into 6-8 individual buns. Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200C/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes, or until the bread is cooked. Bake little buns at 220C/gas mark 7 for 20 minutes. Serve fresh from the oven.
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