Sourdough Hot Cross Buns are an essential part of Easter fare. Well they are in our household!
This sourdough hot cross buns recipe is sure to become an Easter tradition in your home.
This recipe has an option for using a fed and active sourdough starter (naturally leavened) or using sourdough discard and some commercial yeast.
Hot Cross Buns are somewhat of a discussion point in our house – some like them with chocolate chips, others like a more brioche version. Me?
I like a good old fashioned Easter bun stuffed with mixed fruit – including mixed peel (yes I know it’s a bit old school).
The great news is that by making sourdough hot cross buns yourself, you get to be in charge of what goes into them – and what stays out!
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
As always, you can make this recipe your own by making a few substitutions.
- I have used a selection of chopped dried apricots, dried blueberries, raisins and candied orange peel. You can use whatever fruit you would like. Traditional Hot Cross Buns do have mixed citrus peel, but not everyone loves it – and I know my kids are not the biggest fans).
- Instead of dried fruit you could substitute chocolate chips.
- You can add some honey, vanilla or maple syrup to the hot water when soaking your fruit for extra taste.
- I add 2 egg yolks to keep the buns super soft and give them a rich flavor. If you want to make them egg free, you can leave the egg yolks out. Decrease the milk by 30g if you do this. It will change the texture of the crumb (but they will still be good).
- This recipe uses a small amount of cinnamon. Cinnamon slows down the rise of sourdough and thus if you use too much you will inhibit all that lovely wild yeast. If you want more of a cinnamon hit consider adding some to the apricot glaze at the end.
- You don’t have to pipe the crosses on – in fact you can leave them off (they really are only a decoration). To be honest, we make these anytime so often choose to leave the crosses off.
- If you are going to pipe the crosses, the flour & water mixtures needs to be quite thick to stop it bleeding. As you can see mine aren’t perfect – but they are made with love!
Kneading The Dough
I choose to use a stand mixer for this recipe (I actually use a Thermomix). This recipe can be made by hand, however I choose to use a mixer because it enables me to knead the dough faster and I get a smoother, more elastic dough).
You can definitely knead this by hand – it will work. Follow the recipe exactly the same way, just knead the dough by hand rather than in a mixer. Get your muscles pumping though! It will take a good, hard knead to get the butter mixed through the dough.
Shaping Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
There are a few options when it comes to shaping sourdough hot cross buns.
The basic shape remains the same no matter what option you choose.
To shape a sourdough hot cross bun you need to do the following:
- Weigh your dough overall and then divide that weight by how many buns you want. So my dough is 1300g and I want 12 buns so I made them each 108g.
- Divide your dough into 12 pieces.
- Take each piece and gently pinch the dough into the centre forming a ball. Use your hands to tension each ball (like you’re shaping a boule).
- Arrange the sourdough hot cross buns on a tray (see notes below).
You can shape them and arrange them just touching in a deep tray. This will give you buns that are joined together when they come out of the oven. You often see hot cross buns sold like this in the store. They are “tear and share” style, similar to these soft Hawaiian Buns.
If you prefer individual buns, you can shape them and arrange them further apart on a flat baking tray. This will mean that they will bake in a more rounded shape and be separated, rather than conjoined, once baked.
Using Sourdough Discard
Want to make these Easter treats in a hurry? You can use unfed sourdough starter (sourdough discard) and add 7g of instant yeast with the warm milk.
The commercial yeast will allow these Easter buns to rise much faster than traditional sourdough yeast. You will still get some sourdough flavor, but not the depth of flavor you would by letting them rise slowly.
But this is a great way to use up some sourdough discard and have these delicious treats on the table much quicker!
If you use commercial yeast, your bulk ferment will happen much faster (generally just an hour) so be careful not to over do the first rise.
Freezing & Freshness
This sourdough hot cross buns recipe is best eaten the day of making. In fact, they are at their best fresh out of the oven. Allow them cool for around 45 mins to an hour and then break them open and enjoy!
If you have some left over after 24 hours of baking, you can microwave them to restore some “just baked softness”.
They are suitable for freezing. Once they have cooled down, wrap in foil and place into a large ziploc bag. Do not separate joined hot cross buns. Freeze for up to 3 months.
When you want to eat them, defrost and then place into a warm oven (still wrapped in foil) to refresh them.
Looking for an easy sourdough fruit bread – you’ll love this sourdough fruit loaf recipe!
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Recipe
- Digital Scales
- Mixing Bowl
- Baking Tray
For the buns
- 200 g Milk warm – around 37 degrees celcius is perfect
- 500 g Bread Flour you can use AP flour if you want to
- 50 g Sugar
- 100 g Sourdough Starter fed and bubbly
- 80 g Butter softened
- 10 g Salt
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 140 g Mixed Dried Fruit I have used a blend of apricots, blueberries, raisins and candied orange peel.
- 2 g Ground Cinnamon
- 5 g Vanilla Extract
For the cross
- 75 g All Purpose Flour
- 75 g Water
For the glaze
- 50 g Apricot Jam
- 20 g Butter
BEFORE YOU START
- You need to do two things before you start this recipe:1. Add the cinnamon to the softened butter and set aside.2. Add the dried fruit to a bowl and cover with hot water to soften and plump up (you can add vanilla, honey or maple syrup to the mix if you want to).Set both of these aside for use further into the process.
MAKING THE BUNS
- Add warm milk, starter, bread flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg yolks to the mixer bowl. Bring the ingredients together to form a rough dough (it will be quite shaggy and that's ok).If you're using a stand mixer, you'll need to use the dough hook for this part.
- Knead the hot cross bun dough until it forms a fairly smooth dough. It doesn't have to be super smooth just yet, but you would need to knead for around 3 minutes in a mixer).Let the dough rest where it is for around half an hour.
- Now, start your mixer and add the cinnamon butter a little at a time. Around 10-15g at a time is fine. Allow the mixer to knead the butter in the bowl before adding more. Once all the butter is added, knead the dough until it's smooth and shiny.Let the dough rest where it is for around half an hour.
- Now, drain the dried fruit and gently squeeze out the excess moisture. You want them to be plump, but not dripping when you add it to your dough. Now there are two options here. You can add the fruit to your dough and knead it through in your mixer. This will chop up some of the fruit (not all). If you would prefer more whole pieces you can knead it through by hand on the counter. Either way is fine and will not affect the rise of the buns at all.Try not to over knead here – you want to just combine the fruit through the dough.
- Once the fruit has been kneaded through, form the dough into a ball and pop into a bowl to bulk ferment. The time the dough takes will depend on the strength of your starter and the temperature of your kitchen. You can leave the dough overnight if your house is cool enough (even with eggs, butter and milk it will be fine).When I make these, I find that the dough does rise a little slower because it is enriched with butter, milk and eggs.
SHAPING THE HOT CROSS BUNS
- Once the dough has finished bulk fermentation it will have risen to double and be soft and pillowy. Turn the dough out onto the counter (you shouldn't need flour but it you feel the dough is sticky feel free to use it). This dough will be enough for 12 generous sized hot cross buns. Your dough will somewhere around 1000g (you can weigh yours to find out exactly). Divide the weight of your dough by the number of buns you'd like. So for 1000 divided by 12 equals 83.5 so you need to make each bun this weight (give or take a few grams). Weighing each piece will give your buns uniformity and ensure they cook evenly.Shape each piece into a ball (see recipe notes above for full instructions).Place the balls of dough onto a tray.
- Once your buns are shaped, you need to let them rise again in the tray. Set them aside, covered with a tea towel, to plump up and fill the tray. This will take a few hours.
PIPING A CROSS
- Before you bake your buns, you'll want to pipe a cross on each one.Take the flour and water and mix together to form a smooth paste (like pancake batter). You can pop this into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off. Pipe a cross onto each bun. It can be a bit tricky, but don't worry, they don't have to perfect!
BAKING THE BUNS
- Now it's time to bake your buns. Place them into an oven preheated to 180C/350F for around 22 minutes or until the buns are golden (but still soft).
GLAZING THE BUNS
- Mix the jam and butter together in a small dish. You can microwave them a little to soften up if you need to. Use a pastry brush to paint the apricot glaze onto the hot cross buns as soon as they're out of the oven. Allow them to soak it all in before transferring them to a cooling rack.