Spiced, a little bit sweet and a lot fluffy. These sourdough hot cross buns have the signature sourdough tang.
I’m sure Easter is going to look a little different this year, for everyone. The majority of us are stuck inside (for good reason), with plenty of time up our sleeves. Judging from the increase in views on my starting a sourdough starter post, many of you have boarded the sourdough train!
So in the spirit of Easter, and of this new found love of sourdough, here are sourdough hot cross buns!
Soft, spiced and filled with fruit, these fluffy buns are something I look forward to each year. They can be filled with all sorts of dried fruit, though usually raisins are involved. I have used both raisins and some of my homemade dried apple pieces. I love the different textures the variety of fruit brings.
As with most of my sourdough recipes, I will add my timings. You can tweak these to suit you, but it will give you an idea of how long it takes.
These are best eaten on the day they are baked.
These can be made with OR without a mixer: This is a pretty sticky dough to work with, so mixing by hand is not easy. If you have a strong bench top mixer, I would suggest using that.
However, if you’re up for the challenge, I love to hand mix it! It takes a full 10 minutes, and at least 6 of those minutes are pretty sticky. It might seem like it won’t all come together, but trust me it will! Whatever you do, don’t add more flour. After a while you will feel the gluten develop and become smooth and elastic. It’s pretty cool to feel and see it happen before your eyes.
I have a video below of my hand mixing.
The night before
I feed my starter.
I feed my starter at a ratio of 1:3:3 overnight. This means it will be ready to use within 10 hours. If I’m using it sooner, within say 6-8 hours, I would feed it 1:2:2.
If your starter is fairly young, it will help to keep it in a warm space overnight when feeding it at a higher ratio.
9am: Knead the dough and soak the fruit.
Heat the juice of the orange in a saucepan and add in the dried fruit and orange zest. Leave to sit for 20-30 minutes while the dough is kneaded.
The dough base is flour, sugar, heaps of spices, egg, milk and butter. These sourdough hot cross buns are made from an enriched dough, and the addition of the fats in the egg, milk and butter make it richer and more tender.
The white flour used in this recipe should be a high-grade one, with a protein level 11% or more.
First it’s the spices, flour, eggs, milk, salt and starter that are mixed together. Use a fork to combine it into a shaggy dough first, then switch to using your hands.
If you have a bench top mixer, by all means use that.
However, I will demonstrate in this recipe that it is possible to do work the dough with elbow grease alone.
Kneading the Dough
The dough ball at the start, without the butter is a little bit sticky, but once the butter gets incorporated it becomes a whole lot stickier. It takes a good 5 minutes to work the butter in by hand, and a further 5 minutes to create the strong gluten structure needed in the hot cross buns. Put some music on and get into it. It can be fun! I’ve got a video below that shows the process.
Don’t add more flour while you’re kneading. Just keep pushing and pulling the dough to incorporate the butter. Then slowly feel it become smooth and elastic. Once it is a bit more elastic, lift the dough and slap it down on the bench, then fold it forward. Continue this slap and fold motion. At the end you should be able to stretch some of the dough out super thin and create a see-through window pane.
The video below is in fast-forward, which is why it may look easier and less sticky. I find using quick hand movements also helps to stop the dough sticking to my hands too much.
If using a mixer, keep mixing on medium-high speed until the dough stops sticking to the sides and all the butter is incorporated. Then mix for a few minutes more until it’s smooth and glossy. When you lift the dough hook up, the entire dough should hold together without tearing and you will be able to pull it off the hook in one smooth motion. Stretch out a piece of the dough and see that you can stretch it so thin it becomes see through.
Once the dough has been worked, it’s time to drain the fruit and add it in.
Squeeze out some of the excess moisture in the fruit first by squishing it in your fists.
The fruit is going to make the dough sticky again, and you’ll need to carefully work them in. It’s tricky, and the pieces will spill out at first, but keep rolling them in. Even if you have a mixer, this part is best done by hand.
Again, don’t add more flour.
A few gentle slap and folds work too, but carefully because you might end up throwing fruit pieces all over the kitchen. Once the fruit is incorporated, shape the dough into a ball. I’ve got a video of this below.
9:30am-12:30pm First Proof
Then the dough needs to proof in a greased bowl bowl, in a warm spot for 3 hours (anywhere between 22-24 degrees Celsius is good).
After this time the dough will have bulked out a bit, but don’t expect it to rise much.
Tip the dough onto a clean bench and cut it into 9 or 12 even sized pieces. I fit mine in a smaller square tray because I like them squished together, however you can use whatever tray you have.
Dust your hands with flour if needed and form each piece into a ball, tucking the edges underneath to create a smooth surface.
1 pm- 5pm: Second Proof
Place the dough balls into a baking paper lined baking dish and let them proof in a warm spot until they’ve bulked out by about 80%. This can take anywhere between 2-4 hours.
I usually preheat the oven to about 30 degrees Celsius, then turn it off and let them rise in there. The sourdough hot cross buns need to rise, but don’t let them get bigger than about 80%, or you risk them over proofing and collapsing overnight.
Once doubled, cover the tray with a damp tea towel or foil and place them in the refrigerator overnight for at least 10 hours.
The next morning
Preheat the oven to 200 °C fan-bake (220 °C standard oven) and mix together the flour paste for the crosses. Pipe on the crosses, then bake the sourdough hot cross buns until deep brown.
Mix together the sugar glaze ingredients until the sugar dissolves and brush this over the baked buns.
Wait until they have cooled for around 20 minutes before eating.
Serve the sourdough hot cross buns fresh, with a pat of butter. The next day they are best when toasted.
Have you made these sourdough hot cross buns? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz
If you’re after a traditional sourdough loaf, try my Basic Sourdough Loaf.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
Sourdough Starter: This makes 175g starter in total. 150g will be used in the recipe.
- 25 grams sourdough starter
- 75 grams all-purpose flour
- 75 grams water
- 3/4 cup raisins or other dried fruit.
- Juice of 1 orange
- Zest of 1 orange
Hot Cross Bun Dough
- 450 grams strong flour With a protein level of at least 11%
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 220 ml milk
- 1 medium egg
- 150 grams active sourdough starter* see notes above
- 60 grams cold butter, cubed.
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2-3 tbsp boiled water
- The night before, combine the starter ingredients in a jar and mix well. Leave it on the bench to rise and cover the jar with a tea towel or loosely balanced lid.
- The Next Day, heat the juice of the orange in a saucepan and add in the dried fruit and orange zest. Stir together and leave it to sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Add to a mixing bowl all the dough ingredients except for the butter. Mix together with a fork to create a shaggy dough.
- Mixing by hand: Tip the dough onto a clean bench and knead it to bring it together. Place the butter cubes into the middle of the dough. Spend at least 10 minutes kneading the dough to incorporate the butter and develop the gluten in the dough. It is a very sticky dough once the butter is incorporated, but don't be tempted to add more flour. *see notes and video in post.This can be done in a bench mixer with a dough hook. Knead or mix until the dough can be stretched so thin, it is see-through.
- Once kneaded, drain the fruit.Squeeze out the extra moisture from fruit with your fists, then add the fruit to the dough. This will be very sticky at first as the fruit will bring in more moisture. This is best done by hand even if you do have a mixer. Keep rolling and folding it to incoporate the fruit. *see notes and video in post.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with a plate and let the dough proof at room temperature for 3 hours, (ideally between 22-24 degrees Celsius).
- Tip the dough onto a clean bench and cut into 9 or 12 even sized pieces. Dust your hands with flour if needed and shape the pieces into balls, tucking in the bottom to create a smooth top. Place the balls, seam side down into a baking paper lined dish.Let the dough balls rise until they've risen by about 80%, in a warm spot such as an oven that was preheated and turned off. This can take anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on the temperature of your proofing spot. Don't let them rise too much or you'll risk them over proofing overnight.
- Cover the dish with a damp tea towel and place it in the fridge over night for a cold proof of at least 8 hours.
- The Third Day, preheat the oven to 200 °C / 392 F fan-bake or 220 °C / 428F standard oven.
- Mix together the flour with enough water to make a thick paste, then add it to an icing bag.
- Pipe crosses over the buns.
- Place the buns into the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes until a deep brown on the top. If they are browning too fast, lower the oven temperature a bit.
- Once baked, mix together the glaze ingredients until the sugar dissolves, then brush the bun tops with the sugar glaze.
- Leave the buns to cool for about 20 minutes before eating.