Ruby chocolate pumpkin and orange sourdough hot cross buns recipe! With dried cranberries … yum! :)

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Breads and viennoiserie, Celebration cakes and treats, sourdough baking

Bursting with flavour these soft fluffy hot cross buns are a great version of traditional British Easter treats.  The very slightly earthy canned pumpkin purée is complemented perfectly by the bright citric freshly-grated orange zest, candied orange peel and dried cranberries.  Very little allspice, cinammon and ground nutmeg provides a subtle background that doesn’t overwhelm the delicious explosion of citrus.  And the optional addition of naturally tangy and fruity ruby chocolate drops in the centre take these buns to that higher level we all yearn for after watching too many baking competitions like the Great British Bake Off.  Tee hee. Sorry, correction:  there can never be too many.  Just like there can’t be too many hot cross buns.  And why sourdough buns?  Well there’s been a lot  recently about the health benefits of a slower more natural bread-making method using sourdough starter, ie. natural yeast.  If you don’t have any get some from a friend or order online! (see below for more info).  Personally I find these sourdough buns tastier with an interesting texture that’s fluffy with a nice bite and yes they seem more digestible.  And so delicious!  So thought I’d quickly post the recipe before Easter for these pumpkin, orange and cranberry sourdough hot cross buns.  Yum. 🙂

Ruby pumpkin and orange sourdough hot cross buns

Sourdough info

If you don’t have a starter ask a friend for some or buy one at the bakery bits website here.  They’re shipped worldwide and come with clear instructions.  Or Vanessa Kimbell, the main tutor on the Sourdough School course I attended explains how to make a starter here.  There’s more info about starters and options here on my sourdough lemon and orange cake post..

THE RECIPE – makes 12 buns

Ruby pumpkin and orange sourdough hot cross buns

They’re adapted from a combination of two previous recipes on the blog:  spelt hot cross buns and sourdough pumpkin and chocolate buns.  You can adapt to create a version using commercial yeast.  The ruby chocolate can be left out or replaced with milk or dark chocolate and use any dried fruit and spices.  The dough can be kneaded by hand or more quickly on a standmixer with the dough hook.


  • DAY ONE evening – make dough with active starter refreshed earlier in the day (30 mins work); prove ball of dough 1 – 2 hours then place overnight in fridge.
  • DAY TWO morning/afternoon – bring to room temperature/prove 1 – 2 hours then add dried fruit, chocolate and shape into buns (20 – 30 mins work).  Prove 2 – 5 hours (depending on room temperature), pipe crosses (5 mins work); bake (15 – 22 minutes).

DAY ONE – evening

  • 35g/2 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 240g/8.5oz/1/2 cup pumpkin purée, canned or fresh (unsweetened and unspiced)
  • 70g/ml full-fat milk (add 1/2 or 1 tablespoon while kneading if your dough is too stiff or dry)
  • 250g/1 cup strong white bread flour (more or less)
  • 100g/4/5 cup plain/all-purpose flour (or 00 flour)
  • 60g light brown sugar (1/3 cup) or unrefined golden caster sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (mine was freshly-grated, finely)
  • 100g/scant 1/2 cup active young sourdough starter, 100% hydration
  • finely-grated zest of 1 orange

Get to the ‘window pane’ stage after step 5 (stretches thin so you can almost read a newspaper through it).

DAY TWO – morning/afternoon

  • 40g/1/4 cup chopped candied orange
  • 40g/1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 40g/1/4 cup mix of chopped candied orange, cranberries and 3 chopped dried apricots (or sultanas), with some optional freeze-dried raspberry pieces
  • 84 – 96g (about 22 – 25 tsp) Ruby chocolate drops (or milk/dark chocolate)

Position them on a tray lined with baking paper spaced about 1.5 cm apart so when they rise the buns will touch each other.  Cover the tray with plastic film (keep recycling it) to stop the buns drying out and keep in a warm place (23º – 28ºC).

When the buns are almost ready to bake preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF (fan/convection oven) or 200ºC/400ºF (static oven).

The buns need about 2 to 5 hours to get bigger and more or less double in size – be patient and wait until they start puffing well.  If you poke the surface gently with your finger and the dough springs back quickly they’re not ready yet.  If the dough springs back slowly and there’s still a bit of an indent then they’re ready (if there’s no spring back but just an indent they’re on their way to overproofing so get them in the oven quick).


  • A little beaten egg with milk

Brush evenly with a thin layer of egg wash.  Make a slightly higher quantity of the icing below, adding a few spoons extra flour and a little milk.  Use spelt or any glutenfree/plain flour.  Pipe crosses.

Baking and glazing 

Bake 15 – 22 minutes until golden brown.

  • Heat a little sugar syrup (sugar or maple syrup/honey with water and optionally a little apricot jam), to dissolve sugars.

Brush glaze onto the buns when baked and out of the oven.  Brush again if needed.

Eating and storing

If eaten immediately while warm they’ll be extra moist and yummy.  Don’t worry if the ruby chocolate went towards the sides, it’s still amazingly delicious there.

If you wait a bit longer…

Butter isn’t needed but so yummy.

Store in airtight tupperware at room temperature up to 3 or 4 days.  After the first day just like with traditional hot cross buns these are best warmed up, sliced in two and toasted under the grill.  Really yummy – with more butter.  To keep more than 3 days wait till cooled completely then wrap tightly in plastic film and freeze.  They can be toasted from frozen.

Oh my, after looking at these photos might dash to the kitchen and toast some more… come with me!

Ruby pumpkin and orange sourdough hot cross buns

Hope you’ll be inspired to make these pumpkin and orange sourdough hot cross buns with yummy ruby chocolate.

Bye for now dear reader!  Have a lovely yummy week!  Happy Easter or non-Easter baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x

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Baking on Sundays with my French mum was a lovely part of my childhood. Later I experimented with baking books or internet recipes and did the pâtisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Still trying out new recipes and inventing cakes with influences from all around the world, including some healthier ones. Yes, love cakes!!! Hope you'll love them too and have fun baking. :)

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