Hot cross buns have just got even better with the additional unique and totally delicious flavour of sourdough.
If you make sourdough bread then you really must try these sourdough hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns are a traditional part of Easter. Traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
I'm a bit of hot cross bun fanatic partly due to the fact I grew up in a bakery and at Easter had the chance to eat lots of the most delicious hot cross buns as well has help making them.
Now I make my own with my traditional hot cross buns being the most like the ones made in my family's bakery. I also make my own bread including an easy no-knead sourdough bread and in recent years I have made sourdough hot cross buns. Similar to my traditional hot cross buns but with the unique flavour sourdough adds. My dad might not have made them this way (sourdough in the UK was not a thing back then) but I am sure he would approve of them if he was here to try them.
Sourdough hot cross buns – Two Ways
These sourdough buns can be made in two ways. The first using an active sourdough starter in place of yeast to make the dough rise.
Alternatively, if your sourdough starter has been a bit neglected and needs activating again you can use the discard to add that unique sourdough flavour plus a little commercial yeast to help the buns rise. This is also the ideal method if you don't have a full 24 hours required to make them with out added yeast.
I have made sourdough buns by both methods many times now and they both work really well. The flavour profile of the buns is very similar. It comes down to timing; If I have an active starter and the time I opt to make them without any added yeast but if time is of the essence then I use the second method.
Sourdough hot Cross Buns without added yeast
The actual hands-on time is much the same but you need to allow about 10-12 hours for each rising. I often make my dough in the morning before I want to bake them, then shape them before going to bed and let them rise overnight. So by starting the day before I am able to have a batch of warm hot cross buns for breakfast the next day. Perfect!
Hints and Tips
Your sourdough starter may be more or less liquid than mine (and indeed may vary from time to time). Therefore you may need to add additional water or flour to get the correct consistency.
You are aiming for soft slightly sticky dough which will become less sticky after kneading. If your dough is too dry the buns will not rise and the hot cross buns will be hard.
Rising time will vary depending on how active your starter is and the ambient temperature. The warmer the ambient temperature the faster the dough will rise. If you find it is rising too quickly you can slow it right down by placing in the refrigerator. Conversely, if it is rising too slowly move to a warmer place.
Sourdough hot cross buns with added yeast
However, if you choose to make the buns with added yeast they are ready to eat in the same amount of time that it would take to make them conventionally. So you will just need to allow around 2– 3 hours in total for the dough to rise.
To make them like this you simply add 1½ teaspoons of dried yeast to the recipe below and stir it into the flour before rubbing in the butter. Allow to rise the first time until doubled in size about 1 – 2 hours and again once rolled into buns for about 1 hour.
Sourdough hot cross buns step by step
1 Place the flour and spices into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
2 Stir in the dried yeast if using. Then rub in the butter with your fingertips.
3 Stir in the sultanas and mixed peel. Make a well in the centre.
4 Drop the egg into the well and add the sourdough starter.
5 Add most of the water. Mix to a soft, slightly sticky dough, adding the remaining water if required.
6 Turn out the dough and knead gently, until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky.
7 Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough in the oil. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 12 hours.
8 Turn out, and lightly knead again. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
9 Place on a greased baking sheet about 2cm (1in) apart. Slip the tray inside a large carrier bag or cover loosely with cling film.
10 Leave in a warmish place for 10-12 hours or overnight until doubled in size. Then pipe flour and water paste crosses onto the buns.
11 Bake until risen and golden. Once the buns are cooked transfer to a wire rack placed over a tray or baking sheet then brush the tops with the sugar glaze.
How long will the buns keep?
Personally, I think they are best eaten warm and on the day they are made, but do allow them to cool down for at least 15 minutes as they can taste a bit doughy if eaten too hot from the oven.
They will keep a few days, if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. You can also refresh them by popping them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm through or by warming them in the oven at 180℃ (170℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 5 minutes.
Hot cross buns are also delicious toasted and if you do have any older buns leftover you could make them into a special hot cross bun bread and butter pudding. Although I have to say this is never an issue I have experienced!
Freeze: for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and warm in the oven at 180℃ (170℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4 for 5 minutes.
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Sourdough Hot cross buns
- mixing bowl
- baking sheet
- cling film, polythene bag, tea towel to cover
- disposable piping bag
- 500 g (1lb (2oz)strong bread flour
- 2-3 teaspoon mixed spice pumpkin spice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 60 g (2½oz) golden caster sugar
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- 50 g (2oz) butter cut into cubes
- 125 g (4oz) sultanas
- 50 g (2oz)chopped mixed peel
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 100 ml (3½floz) sourdough starter
- 200 ml (7floz) warm water
for the crosses
- 50 g (2oz) plain flour
- cold water to mix
for the glaze
- 25 g (1oz) golden caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice pumpkin spice
- To make the dough, place 500g (1lb 2oz) flour, 2- 3 teaspoons mixed spice and ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg into a large mixing bowl and stir in 60g (2½oz) sugar and 1¼ teaspoons salt.
- Rub in 50g (2oz) butter with your fingertips, then stir in 125g (4oz) sultanas and 50g (2oz) mixed peel. Make a well in the centre.
- Drop in one beaten egg into the well and add 100ml (3½floz) sourdough starter. Add most of 200ml (7floz) water. Mix to a soft, slightly sticky dough, adding the remaining water if required.
- Turn out the dough and knead gently, until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough in the oil. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 12 hours.
- Turn out, and lightly knead again. Divide the dough into 12 and roll each piece into a ball. Place on a greased baking sheet about 2cm (1in) apart. Slip the tray inside a large carrier bag or cover loosely with cling film, and leave in a warmish place for 10-12 hours or overnight until doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 190℃/ (170℃ fan)/375°F/gas mark 5.
- To make the crosses, place 50g (2oz) flour into a small bowl and stir in enough water to mix to a soft paste. Spoon the mixture into a disposable piping bag and snip off the end. Pipe a cross on each bun.
- Bake for 20 -25 minutes until risen and golden. While the hot cross buns are baking, prepare the glaze. Place 25g (1oz) sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a small pan with ½ teaspoon mixed spice and heat gently stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the buns are cooked transfer to a wire rack placed over a tray or baking sheet then brush the tops with the sugar glaze.
Details on how to make a sourdough starter can be found with my recipe for
No-knead sourdough loaf on Recipes Made Easy