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.