Place the warmed milk in a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes to dissolve the yeast and allow it to become activated and frothy.
Place the sugar in a medium bowl, then add in the vanilla bean seeds and the orange zest. Rub the seeds and zest into the sugar with your fingers until combined and fragrant.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, salt, spices, and the vanilla‐orange sugar together until combined. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture and the chickpea flour mix.
Either using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer or with a fork, mix the wet ingredients into the dry until a rough dough begins to form. Then either increase the speed of your stand mixer to knead the dough, or transfer the dough to a flour-dusted work surface and knead until the dough is soft, smooth and springs back slowly when you gently press a finger onto it, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer, or 10 minutes by hand. It should be slightly tacky to the touch, but not overly sticky. If it's too sticky, add a little extra flour whilst kneading. If it's too dry, add a little more milk.
Sprinkle over the chopped chocolate and cherries, knead for another minute or two, just until the mix‐ins are evenly incorporated through the dough. If kneading in a stand mixer, make sure that the dough is not too warm when adding in the chocolate or it may melt through your dough. Gather up the dough and place in a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius / 400 fahrenheit. Lightly oil a large, shallow baking dish (I used a shallow enamelled cast iron Le Creuset pan) or oil and line a large round or rectangular baking tray.
Knock the risen dough back with your fist, then divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (roughly 90 – 95g each) and roll each into smooth, tight balls. Arrange dough balls on your baking dish / baking tray in concentric circles (I don't space mine out very much as I like them to cook closely together to reduce the amount of edges, making for softer buns – it also helps them to rise up rather than out). Cover with the damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Place your flour‐water paste for the crosses in a piping bag with a small nozzle attached (or make a tight cone out of baking paper with a small hole at the end to use as a makeshift piping bag – see this youtube video for instructions) and carefully pipe a cross shape onto each risen bun.
Place the pan of buns into the preheated oven, on the middle rack, to bake for 15 – 20 minutes – or until risen, golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. If you have an uneven oven, rotate the pan halfway through cooking for even browning.
While the buns bake, make the glaze – combine the sugar, water, and leftover vanilla bean or paste in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and allow the vanilla bean to infuse while the buns cook.
Remove the buns from the oven and brush the glaze generously over the hot buns. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and leave to cool. Eat the sticky hot cross buns warm or at room temperature, sliced and toasted (or not) and spread with a little vegan salted butter.