Spiced, a little bit sweet and a lot fluffy. These sourdough hot cross buns are a creative use for sourdough starter.
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 like using raisins, or homemade dried apple pieces, cranberries, or whatever dried fruit I have.
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.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns- The Method
The Night Before
I feed my my sourdough starter at a ratio of 1:3:3 (or even 1:4:4 if it's going to be a warm night). This means a ratio of 1 part starter, 3 parts flour and 3 parts water measured in grams.
This feeding amount means it will be ready to use within 8-10 hours, depending on the warmth of the room overnight. If I'm using it sooner, within say 6 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.
A 1:3:3 feeding example would be 25g starter, 75g flour and 75g water. This makes approximately 175g starter, of which 150g will be used in the recipe.
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. It makes it a lot easier!
However it is possible to 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 8-10 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!
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 more smooth and elastic. If you need a break, take it! The dough responds very well to a bit of resting time.
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.
The dough will always be sticky but you should feel strength and elasticity form in the dough.
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 6-8 minutes more until it's smooth, strong 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.
Adding Fruit to the Hot Cross Buns
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 even more sticky, 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. Alternatively, just add them to the mixer if that's what you're using.
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.
Cold Proofing - Two Options
Now you have two options depending on when you would like to eat and serve the sourdough hot cross buns.
Option 1- You can shape them now, let them rise, and then place the shaped and puffed buns in the fridge overnight. In the morning they can go straight into the oven to be baked.
Option 2 (my favourite) - The bowl of dough can be refrigerated overnight and in the morning the buns can be shaped, risen and baked for fresh buns at midday or in the afternoon.
Shaping The Hot Cross Buns
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.
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 3-5 hours.
I usually preheat the oven slightly,then turn it off and let them rise in there.
Note - If you are choosing proofing option 1 and refrigerating the shaped buns, don't let them get bigger than about 80%, or you risk them over proofing and collapsing overnight. Once risen they can be covered with a damp tea towel before being refrigerated.
Piping the Hot Cross Bun Crosses
Mix together the flour paste for the crosses until it makes a thick paste.
Pipe on the crosses using a piping bag with a small piping tip.
Baking the Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
Preheat the oven to 200 °C (392°F) fan-bake (220°C (428°F) standard oven.)
Place the buns in the oven and bake them until they are a deep brown colour.
While they are baking, mix together the sugar glaze ingredients. When the hot cross buns come out of the oven, brush them with the glaze.
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
Sourdough Starter (This makes approximately 175g starter in total. 150g will be used in the recipe.)
- 25 grams sourdough starter
- 75 grams all-purpose flour
- 75 grams water
- ¾ cup raisins or other dried fruit.
- 60 ml orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
Hot Cross Bun Dough
- 450 grams all purpose or bread flour (with a protein level of at least 11%)
- 75 grams brown sugar
- 2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 220 ml milk
- 1 medium egg
- 150 grams active sourdough starter
- 60 grams room temperature butter, cubed.
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ 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.
- 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 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 10-15 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. Take a break in between kneading if you want to - the dough responds well to a bit of resting time. *see notes and video in post.
- The dough will always be sticky, even when kneaded, howver it should feel strong and elastic.
- This can be done in a bench mixer with a dough hook. Mix for 10 minutes until the dough is strong and smooth.
- Once the dough has been 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 as the fruit will bring in more moisture. Keep rolling and folding it to incoporate the fruit. Then gather the dough into a balll. *see notes and video in post.
- Place the dough ball 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).
Cold Proofing - Two Options
- Option 1- You can shape them now, let them rise until bulked out by about 80%. Cover them with a a damp tea towel and place the shaped and puffed buns in the fridge overnight. In the morning they can go straight into the oven to be baked. Don't let them rise too much or you'll risk them over proofing overnight.
- Option 2 (my favourite) - The bowl of dough can be covered and refrigerated overnight. The next morning, let the cold dough sit for 10 or so minutes at room temperature, then the buns can be shaped, risen until bulked out by about 80% and baked for fresh buns at midday or in the afternoon.
- The rising can take between 3-5 hours depending on your room temperature.
Shaping The Buns
- 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, then let them rise.
Baking the Buns
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 356 F fan-bake or 200 °C / 392F 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 minutes until a deep brown on the top.
- 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.
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Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320Total Fat: 6.3gSaturated Fat: 3.5gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 35mgCarbohydrates: 57.2gFiber: 2.3gSugar: 9.4gProtein: 8.1g