These surprised me as being the best sourdough hot cross buns I’ve ever made so decided to share them here with you. They’re deliciously simple compared to previous prototypes on the blog. Being in lockdown here in Barcelona means I can’t go hunting high and low for more obscure ingredients (the police probably wouldn’t understand the urgency of finding hot cross bun ingredients) and I’m minimising online buying to bare essentials. So I replaced the pumpkin purée from my original sourdough buns with milk. I also simplified the crosses by making them with flour, water and a few drops of oil then glazed the buns with very little honey. They’re not super glossy but sometimes simpler and less sweet is better and faster. These are so tasty and fluffy. There are subtle quantities of ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and you can optionally pre-soak the sultanas, candied orange peel, pineapple and ginger in rum. Milk chocolate chips are a lovely addition but keeping a little candied fruit ensures that delightful burst of moisture. You can add any bits and pieces you like. I love these sourdough hot cross buns, please try them… 🙂
Sourdough and Easter celebrations
These hot cross buns aren’t a lot of work and great if you’re at home an evening and following morning. Let’s face it, at the moment most of us are at home so it’s a great time to play with sourdough breads. Plus it’s Easter soon! We should celebrate, right?
These buns have made me happy munching them on the sofa while watching baking shows on YouTube. I hope they can keep you amused and content too.
Hot cross tips
Being in quarantine ingredients are limited so there’s no testing things three times but the method is similar to that used for my previous sourdough hot cross buns. Once you get the feel for working with sourdough or bread dough it all starts working better. The main tips are: don’t add too much extra flour at any point unless your dough is so soft it has no structure; if your dough is too stiff add a little milk; knead to more or less window pane (by hand or machine); and find the optimum proofing time for your buns, checking by looking at them and with the finger poking test. Always adapt according to your environment and oven.
These hot cross buns are based on a combination of my Ruby chocolate pumpkin and orange sourdough buns and spelt hot cross buns (check these out if you want the recipe for neater, sweeter crosses which can also be thicker or omitted).
My thin crosses weren’t perfect but do I mind? Nope, they’re such yummy buns! 😋Let’s make them…!
THE RECIPE – makes 12 buns
Day 1 – make levain in the morning (5 mins work); 6 – 10 hours later make dough (20 – 30 mins work, 10 mins resting); proof (let dough rise) 1 – 2 hours; place in fridge overnight or 8 – 12 hours.
Day 2, morning – let dough come to room temperature and proof 1 – 2 hours; cut and shape (15 – 20 mins work, resting 20 mins); proof 2 – 5 hours; bake (15 – 25 mins).
Morning/early afternoon – make levain (6-10 hours before mixing dough)
- 13g/approximately 1 tbsp active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 52g/ml water, tepid at 23°C to 28°C
- 52g/1/3 cup + 4 tsp strong white bread flour
Mix the water and active starter in a clean jar or bowl to combine. Stir in the flour to make a smooth mixture. Cover and leave at room temperature until it rises and bubbles, more or less doubling in volume.
Afternoon/evening – make dough (and optionally soak dried fruit)
- 35g/2 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little
- 200g/ml full-fat milk, at room temperature (plus 1/2 to 1 tablespoon or more while kneading if your dough is stiff or dry – you want a relatively soft dough)
- 250g/1 cup strong white bread flour
- 100g/4/5 cup plain/all-purpose flour (or 00 flour)
- 60g unrefined golden caster sugar (1/4 cup) or light brown sugar (1/3 cup)
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, to taste
- 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 mild prepared levain (made 6 – 10 hours before)
- finely-grated zest of 1 lemon (or orange)
- Inserts: 120g/3/4 cup or more roughly chopped mixed candied peel or dried fruit, like sultanas, dried cranberries, candied ginger or orange peel, etc. (optionally soak 2 to 12 hours or more in 50g/ml dark rum or orange juice). Options: 120g/2/3 cup or more milk or dark chocolate drops; or a combination of dried/candied fruit and chocolate drops (I did six buns with just 60-70g dried fruit – 10 to 11g per bun – and the other six buns with a combination of 8g chocolate drops + 3g dried fruit per bun).
- Crosses: 2 tbsp plain or glutenfree flour; about 1 tbsp or more water; a few drops of light cooking/olive oil
Remember to add a little milk if your dough is stiff – it should be soft and pliable (but not runny) so not hard to knead.
The ‘window pane’ effect is when you can stretch out a little piece of dough to almost be ‘transparent’ so you can read a newspaper through it! You don’t need your dough as stretchy because this hot cross bun dough is a bit heavier than the one in the photo but it will look a little like this:
Day 2 (morning) – shape
Follow the instructions below keeping in mind that for these buns it doesn’t matter if the chocolate drops don’t stay right in the middle. We’re not trying for a soft chocolate centre. But it’s best if the fruit and chocolate drops don’t all stick out the sides because they can burn there. Try to be careful when rolling under your cupped palm. Here’s a youtube video shaping demo from Bake with Jack.
You can add the dried fruit before shaping (Step 2 below) but adding them instead to each bun with the chocolate (step 4) helps ensure even distribution per bun and that the pieces stay more inside the bun.
Proof and bake
Space the buns out on the lined baking tray, about 1.5 cm apart so when they rise the buns will touch or almost touch each other. Cover the tray with plastic film or a recyclable bag to stop the buns drying out and keep in a warm place (23º– 28ºC) if possible.
When the buns are almost ready to bake preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF (fan/convection oven) or 200ºC/400ºF (static oven).
Proofing poke test
The buns need 2 to 5 hours to get bigger, more or less doubling 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 leaving 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).
Egg or milk/melted butter wash
Once proofed brush with a little beaten egg. I had no eggs due to you know what (yes, the lockdown) so I used a little milk and melted butter. They’re less shiny than usual but actually it’s great to stop using so many eggs!
Mix the flour, water and a little oil in a small bowl to a smooth paste. Use a piping bag with a small hole cut at the end (or a small plastic bag with a small hole cut in the corner). Pipe across all the buns one way, then across them the other way letting the paste fall down the side of each bun.
Bake 15 to 25 minutes or longer until golden brown (it depends on your oven) – mine took a little over 20 minutes (I checked they looked done underneath). Take out of oven to cool on the tray 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes brush with a little runny honey. This makes them a little glossier (alternatively you could brush with slightly warmed apricot jam for a stickier shiny gloss).
The six on the left just have dried and candied fruit. The six on the right have milk chocolate drops with a little fruit. You can see where one had a lot of chocolate drops near the surface, which exploded. This looks a bit odd but is fine taste-wise.
They rose into lovely balls and are so delicious, especially sliced in half with salted butter spread on top. Do have a nice sourdough hot cross bun…
Wishing you all a lovely Easter dears! Hope you’re all keeping well. Stay safe with lots of happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x
I just don’t have the chance so set up and nourish a starter, Lili. I’ll just have to enjoy this delicious sounding bun vicariously.
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Thanks, they were lovely and that’s a shame Mary. A starter is a great thing to have around and not that much work – I confess I sometimes neglect mine for weeks and it still survives. 😁 Hope you got to eat some nice hot cross buns anyway. 🙂
What a mouthful! 😍
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Thank you Gail, yes lovely for Easter or any time. 🙂
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Looks amazing Lili! Such a clever idea to put the sweeter fillings in the middle to keep them from burning. Always happens to me — and when it’s citrus peel, it also dries out and hardens too!
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Thank you Laurie, yes really enjoyed these. The candied fruit in the middle was by accident as I forgot to add them earlier! 🤣 But I agree – it really does help avoid fruit drying and hardening so will do it on purpose next time. Lol 🙂
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