Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Easter has come and gone so this recipe is coming a bit too late, but as we are all spending a lot of the extra time we have on our hands at home, and because these are also absolutely delicious, there is nothing wrong making them pretty much any time of the year. It was my first go at making these buns with a sourdough starter, and as with anything, once you go sourdough, it is hard to go back. It’s a spin on the recipe published by Julia Ostro as well as some Tartine techniques that I used in all my sourdough baking. The whole process did last for a couple of days, but without much actual work and a lot of waiting and resting the dough. I underestimated how much they will rise, and as you can see from the photos, they could easily be baked on a larger tray, although I actually really like the parts where they are in contact with one another, so you can’t really go wrong.

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Recipe:

Leaven: 

  • 290g full cream milk
  • 200g white flour, type 00
  • 1 tbsp sourdough starter

Overnight Poolish:

  • 50 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g full fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp dry active yeast

Dried fruit:

  • 50 g sultanas
  • 50 g dried currents
  • 50 g candied orange peel
  • 150 ml boiling water
  • *1 tbs aged rum or cognac

The Dough:

  • 200 g White flour Type 00
  • 50 g Spelt Flour
  • 8 g Salt
  • 40 g coconut sugar
  • 30 g Raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing

Crosses:

  • 40g plain flour
  • 50g water
  • 10g melted ghee

The Glaze: 

  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30g water
  • pinch of cinnamon

Method:

Day 1 (Evening):

  1. 36 hours before you’ll want to bake the buns, mix the leaven ingredients in a bowl and leave them on a bench, covered with a kitchen towel, overnight. At the same time mix the ingredients for the poolish in an air-tight container and rest in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:

  1. Next morning, in a self standing mixer with a hook attachment, mix the leaven, poolish and all the dough ingredients, except the salt. Let it knead for 5 minutes. Leave the dough to rest for 30 min to hydrate.
  2. In the meantime bring the water for hydrating the fruit to boil. Mix the dried fruit together, add the rum if using, and cover with the hot water. Leave to rest for 30 minutes until your dough is ready for the next step.
  3. Drain the dried fruits well and add them and the 8g of salt to the dough. Let the mixer do its thing for another 10 minutes until the dough is nice and shiny.
  4. Now it’s time for your bulk rise. Leave the dough on the kitchen bench for around 6-8 hours, turning and folding the dough on itself every hour to strengthen it. (If you’re new to sourdough baking, maybe look up some videos on the folding technique. Otherwise to recap, although I will probably butcher the explanation: Wet your hand and from one side of the bowl try to lift a part of the dough, stretch it upwards as well as you can and flip that part over the top. Do 5 more folds like that and let it rest for an hour. Then repeat this folding every hour or so to get the dough nice and aerated.)
  5. After completing the rise, generously butter the baking pan and your hands, divide the dough into 12 little parts, each weighing 100 g and shape each into a round ball, placing them well apart in the tray. Cover with cling-wrap or some beeswax wrap and rest in the fridge overnight.

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Day 3 (Morning):

  1. Early next day, take the tray out of the fridge. If you have hours before wanting to bake them, leave it rest on the bench for a couple of hours until doubled in size, or if you want to speed it up, preheat the oven on 40C, turn it off and let a bit of the hot air out and then place the tray inside. This will give you a warmer environment and a faster rise and should take around 1.5 hours.

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2. In the meantime you can get the crosses mix ready, simply melt the ghee or use any other neutral flavoured oil, add the water and flour and mix well. Place it into a piping bag or a small zip-lock bag, and when the buns are risen, cut a tiny hole into the corner of your bag and pipe on the crosses. If the mix feels too thick to pipe simply add some water (I have made mine a bit too thin, it should spill a bit less than on the photo).

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3. Bake for 25min on 190C. To make the glaze bring the water, sugar and cinnamon to boil and as soon as you pull your buns out of the oven, using a silicone brush generously glaze the buns, focusing on the sides. It will make them really pretty and shiny and as it will caramelise it will bring a slight sweetness to the buns. Serve warm with butter or jam, or if you have any left-over they’re pretty amazing slightly toasted in a toaster as well (and again don’t forget the butter).

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