It doesn’t properly feel like Spring until the scent of a toasting hot cross bun is wafting through the kitchen. These sourdough hot cross buns are my spin this year, previously having done bagel, loaf and Chelsea versions of the delicious HCB.
Although sourdough can be something that sounds incredibly intimidating to use (and can be very hard to master!) this dough is handled pretty much just like a standard bun dough. It’s not super wet so it isn’t a nightmare to shape. And you just give it a good knead at the start – no hours of intermittent folding involved either.
The main thing is that the sourdough nature of this recipe means that it requires a much longer rise (8-12 hours) as the yeast isn’t as powerful as commercial stuff. That’s okay though, just let it rise overnight and you can bake the buns off the next day! Perfect for a weekend baking project for Easter.
How to make sourdough starter
If you haven’t got a sourdough starter yet, I have a comprehensive guide on starting and maintaining a sourdough starter right here.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
- 50 g (1/4 cup) water
- 2 tbsp (15g) plain white flour or bread flour
- 210 g (1 cup minus 2 tbsp) water lukewarm
- 60 g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil, plus extra for the bowl
- 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp mixed spice (see notes)
- 90 g sourdough starter 100% hydration, recently fed
- 250 g (2 cups) white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
- 200 g (1 2/3 cup) wholewheat bread flour (or more white bread flour)
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 g mixed dried fruit soaked and drained, (see notes)
- 75 g plain flour
- 15 g vegetable oil
- 65 g water
Egg wash (see notes for vegan version):
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- 4 tbsp maple syrup or apricot jam
Make the paste:
- In a small pot combine the 50g water and 2 tbsp flour. Stir together then set over a medium heat on the stove. Cook, stirring constantly, until you get a thick paste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.50 g (1/4 cup) water, 2 tbsp (15g) plain white flour or bread flour
Make the dough:
- Place the cooled paste into a large bowl. Add the water, oil, sugar, mixed spice and sourdough. Stir together briefly to combine, mashing the paste up slightly as you do this.210 g (1 cup minus 2 tbsp) water, 60 g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil, plus extra for the bowl, 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, 2 tbsp mixed spice, 90 g sourdough starter
- Add the flours and salt to the dough. Stir together until you get a shaggy dough.250 g (2 cups) white bread flour, plus extra for kneading, 200 g (1 2/3 cup) wholewheat bread flour, 1 tsp salt
- Tip out onto a clean work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, dusting with extra white bread flour as needed to prevent it sticking, until smooth and elastic.
- Pat out into a circle then sprinkle over the mixed dried fruit. Roll the dough up into a log, like a Swiss roll cake, then coil up into a ball.150 g mixed dried fruit
- Drizzle a bit of extra vegetable oil into the bowl you were using earlier. Add the dough to the bowl and turn it to coat with the vegetable oil.
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (or a shower cap). Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume (I usually leave it overnight).
- If you find the dough hasn’t doubled in volume in that time, place somewhere warm (e.g. an oven switched onto the lowest heat for 2 minutes then turned off) for an hour or two to help things along.
- Tip the risen dough out onto a clean work surface. Pat out into a circle.
- Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll into balls – don’t worry if some of the dried fruit comes out when you do this. You can try to poke some of it back into the ball.
- Place the balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Leave somewhere warm for 2-3 hours until the balls are almost doubled in volume.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F).
- Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg (or vegan glaze – see notes) using a pastry brush.1 egg
- Mix the 'cross' ingredients in a small bowl to get a smooth paste. Place into a piping bag (or sandwich bag with the corner snipped off) and cut off the very tip. You want the hole to be quite small as a thinner cross will look better. Pipe the mixture over the buns in cross shapes.75 g plain flour, 15 g vegetable oil, 65 g water
- Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until the buns are dark golden.
- Heat the maple syrup in a small pot until reduced by about half. If using apricot jam, warm it slightly to loosen then sieve to remove any large pieces. Whilst this is still hot, brush it over the warm buns and leave to cool.4 tbsp maple syrup or apricot jam
- Mixed spice is a standard ingredient to buy in the UK. You can DIY it by mixing: of 2 tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground allspice, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp ground clove, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground coriander seed
- Mixed dried fruit a standard ingredient you can buy in the UK. It is made up of mostly sultanas, raisins and currants with a bit of candied orange/lemon peel mixed in. I like to soak mine in boiling water for ~10 mins first (then drain before adding to the dough in step 4).
- For a vegan glaze: mix 1 tsp golden syrup/maple syrup + 2 tbsp oat milk/soy milk + a pinch of baking soda (+ a pinch of xanthan gum if you have it). Whisk together until smooth-ish. Brush this on the buns instead of an egg glaze just before baking.
Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!
44 thoughts on “Sourdough Hot Cross Buns”
This is very really unique helpful information. keep it up. Thank you so much!
Hello, I made these and they were amazing! Will definitely be making again 😀
I was just wondering what the purpose of the initial cooking of flour and water before adding to the other ingredients in the bun component of the recipe.
Thanks very much.
Hi Lucy! So pleased to heat that. The cooking of the flour & water helps to lock extra moisture into the dough meaning they are fluffy & stay soft for longer
I made this last night – added 1/2 tsp of commercial yeast because I wasn’t able to wait so long.. turned out very well 🙂 thanks for the recipe, i love the sour tinge to it!
What does 100% hydration mean in relation to the sourdough starter please?
This means that your starter has been fed with equal *weights* of flour and water (e.g. 50g flour and 50g water)
Very excited to make these over the weekend. It’s the perfect opportunity to get my partner’s sourdough starter back into action. I am a total newbie to sourdough and our sourdough starter has been sitting in the fridge for at least two years without being refreshed. Can I just use 90g of this starter or do I need to do anything with it first? Also how do I know if it is 100% hydration? Thank you!!
Two years without refreshing it sounds like a LONG time to me hahaha. If I were you I would take the starter out of the fridge now and discard any liquid on top as well as the majority of the starter. If it is mouldy I wouldn’t use it tbh, I’d say you’d need to start a new one. If it seems okay then take a tiny amount of the starter and put it into a clean jar with 50g flour and 50g water – mix well and leave for 12 hours. If it starts to get bubbly it should be fine. Repeat this feeding the next day – discard most of the starter and feed with 50g flour + 50g water. After about 3-4 hours you should be okay to use the starter to proceed with this recipe.
Hi Izy, thank you for getting back to me. The starter has no mould at all and still smells perfectly fine. I’f taken 30g of starter and mixed it with 180g water and 90g flour on the day before yesterday. I read that if it’s an old starter it’s better to go in with that ratio at the start. It started to bubble a bit but not majorly. So yesterday (24 hrs later) I added 50g water and 50g flour. Now it looks like it has started to bulk up and bubbled more. One more feed of 50/50 and then after 4 hrs ready to rock n roll? Uhh excited 🙂
that’s great news!! Sounds like a good plan to me 🙂
Thank you Izy, I’ll give this a try. Fingers crossed 😉
I have started making these. The dough is incredibly solid and dry. Can’t see it rising but will see how it goes. I used the cup measurements. Not sure where I have gone wrong
Hi bryony, It can be down to a few things: firstly (and most likely) is the method used for measuring the flour – whenever I measure flour I use a spoon & sweep method to ensure that the flour isn’t packed into the cup + which provides the most consistent way to measure flour using cups. Other factors can be your elevation, humidity of the air and your flour types all of which can affect the absorption of flour into the dough. If it seems dry it’s okay to add more liquid until the dough seems right. On my IG page I have a video of making these hot cross buns so you can see what the texture should be like
Hi. I’m wondering if I can use all white unbleached flour. I would like to start making them tomorrow. Thanks!
Can I use all white unbleached flour?
Yes that will work perfectly!
Hi there! I’m looking to skip the dried fruit- I don’t have any and am avoiding the shops. Would you need to use flour in that case? Does the fruit absorb some of the moisture in the buns?
You can definitely just swap the fruit for chocolate chips. You could add 1-2 tbsp more water to the dough if you feel it needs it but it shouldn’t affect the texture too much (the cooked paste included helps to add extra moisture to the dough anyway)
Thanks for a great recipe! I made these using rye instead of wholewheat, so they didn’t rise much, but turned out delicious. I soaked the fruit in spiced rum overnight, then combined the soaked rum with the maple syrup for the glaze. Highly recommend for anyone who wants a crossover of Christmas pudding with their hot cross bun 🙂
Thanks, Laura!! Ooh rum raisins in there sounds like an excellent idea. YUM!
Thanks for the amazing recipe Izzy. Best sourdough hot cross buns ever!
I’ve never had much luck with sourdough in hot cross buns before but these ones worked awesome.
I didn’t bother with the paste I just added a little extra veg oil. And I soaked the fruit in masala wine over night.
Aw thanks, Tim! So glad to hear that – and great tip about the extra oil. I usually include the paste to help prolong the softness of the buns but if they’re being eaten quickly that definitely doesn’t matter as much hahaha! Also the boozy fruit included sounds incredible!!
I didn’t read the recipe properly….is it ok to leave the dough for twice the amount of time?
Hi Suzanne, leaving the dough for longer can affect the strength of the gluten so you may find that they don’t rise as much when baked and will be more sour! This does depend on the temperature they were rising at though so it could be fine 🙂
I’m so happy to have found your blog and this post while doing a recipe search for sourdough hot cross buns.
I’ve been baking for years, including hot cross buns (I have my yeast-raised version on my blog), but I only started doing sourdough about 6 months ago and wish I hadn’t waited so long. I love your idea of using tangzhong, which I’ve used in yeast-raised sandwich loaves, but I never thought to try it in sourdough.
I just refreshed my starter and will make the dough this evening. I’m looking forward to having them warm from the oven tomorrow for our Easter breakfast.
I’m also looking forward to exploring the rest of the recipes on your site.
Hi Izy, thanks for the recipe – will these freeze ok?
Yes once baked they’ll freeze perfectly! You can slice them pre-freezing so that you can just pop them straight into the toaster from frozen if you like (but if you do that just make sure they’re well-wrapped so they don’t get freezer burn!).
The hot cross buns looked beautiful and were tender with great flavor. The fragrance as they baked was amazing.
I made 2 changes: I soaked the mixed fruit in Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum for about 4 hours, then drained it. And I didn’t do the flour/oil/water mix for the cross, instead I piped the cross after the buns were out of the oven & had cooled for a bit with a confectioner’s sugar/whipping cream frosting flavored with a pinch of salt, and a few drops each of pure vanila extract and pure almond extract.
So pleased you like them, MaryJo! Thanks for the feedback. Love the idea of soaking the fruit in rum too – yum!
Thank you Izy – these were a great success. I’ve been making sourdough for a few years now, and I sometimes make a fruit loaf by adding dried fruit and mixed spice to the dough but it’s still quite heavy. These buns were lovely and light, yet satisfying! Our son usually powers through the store bought buns but he LOVED these. Thank you!
So pleased to hear you and your family liked the buns! 🙂 thanks for the feedback!
Hi Izy, thanks for the recipe! I’m half way through with my fingers firmly crossed. I have 2 questions… 1) the prove will be ready this evening, so I was wondering if I could put the dough in the fridge overnight and take it out an hour before cooking tomorrow? 2) the dough has formed a bit of a hard shell in the bowl, not sure if this is a problem… thanks, Matilda
Hi Matilda! Sorry I didn’t get to your comment yesterday – I think the overnight stint in the fridge would be fine, just for future reference. The only thing is that the overnight rest will make the dough a lot more sour, which is fine if that’s the effect you’re going for.
Re: the hard shell, this signifies that however you’re covering the dough is still letting in enough air to dry out the dough which isn’t good as it will prevent the dough from rising properly. I like to cover my bowl with a plastic shower cap or a bin bag which I twist and seal at the side of the bowl with a chip clip. Another option is using a damp tea towel or cling film (plastic wrap).
Would this recipe turn out okay if I used regular whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour instead of bread flour? Would I need to make any adjustments to proofing time? Thanks!
Hey! Can I substitute the vegetable oil for butter, and if so how much butter should I use?
Yes! Just use 80g melted butter 🙂
Hi there! VERY excited to try this recipe. However, I can only source white bread flour right now. Is it ok if I just use entirely white bread flour instead of the white/whole wheat mix? Thanks!
Yes that will work to use all white flour! 🙂 The dough might be a bit softer but it should still be fine
Can we use sunflower oil instead of vegetable oil?
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