As the days get longer and warmer, the flowers and trees begin to bloom, and the grass turns green I find myself longing for beautifully baked bread and cakes.
The moment that the warm sun of spring hits I am ready to celebrate with a batch of these homemade sourdough hot cross buns. These buns are a traditional British Easter treat, made with a tangy sourdough starter and spiced with mixed spice, and dried fruit. They are the perfect combination of a soft and fluffy interior with a crispy and golden exterior.
They are enjoyed throughout springtime but you can eat them throughout the year!
My sourdough hot cross bun recipe will guide you through the process of making these delicious buns, from preparing the dough to shaping and baking. Get ready to enjoy the true taste of spring!
What are hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns are a traditional sweet bread typically served on Good Friday, a Christian holiday that falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday. They are made with flour, yeast, sugar, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and dried fruit such as raisins or currants. The buns are usually marked with a cross on the top, which is traditionally made with flour and water paste but can also be made with icing. The cross is symbolic of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
That being said, they have in more recent years become a traditional spring-time food that is loved by all.
They are often served toasted with butter, but you can experiment with your own toppings!
Why use sourdough?
There are many many reasons why I love to bake with sourdough. Here are a few of the main ones:
- Sourdough can be much easier to digest than bread made with commercial yeast. This is because the fermentation process of sourdough breaks down the gluten and other complex carbohydrates. I mostly follow a gluten-free diet due to intolerance reasons, but I can tolerate sourdough bread well.
- Sourdough bread has a unique flavour and texture that is different from bread made with commercial yeast. The fermentation process creates a tangy, slightly sour taste and a chewy texture. I find this much more satisfying than the taste of most shop-bought bread made using yeast.
- Sourdough bread is believed to have a lower glycemic index than bread made with commercial yeast which means it may have a slower impact on blood sugar levels.
- Your sourdough starter is the gift that just keeps on giving. You can use it for multiple batches of bread, as you keep feeding it. And with time, the flavour of it will develop making tastier doughs.
Baking with sourdough
Baking with sourdough may sound like a faff but once you’ve got an active sourdough starter on the go it really couldn’t be simpler!
In general, you will find it takes sourdough dough a lot longer to rise as it isn’t as strong as commercial yeast. But I like that it is a more natural process. Moreover, I find it really convenient as you can prep the dough the day before and leave it overnight in the fridge to rise and then bake it in the morning so that it can be enjoyed during the day.
It is actually also a lot less hassle since it doesn’t need to be kneaded as much as yeast-based doughs.
When it comes to using sourdough in hot cross buns, I find the tang really compliments the sweetness of the dried fruits inside. It is my favourite way to bake hot cross buns, plus it is great for my gut!
How do you make sourdough hot cross buns?
Whilst it may look like quite a lengthy process making this sourdough hot cross bun recipe, it really doesn’t require too much work. Just time and patience!
Here is an overview of the steps involved in making these buns. If you are ready to start baking, jump straight to the recipe.
1. Make the dough
You will start by combining the sourdough starter with the flour, water and milk in a mixing bowl. This will then be mixed with the vegan egg alternative, aquafaba, and some vegan butter. Cover the bowl and let is rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
2. Knead the dough
Once rested, the flavourings are kneaded into the dough.
You can add any of your own flavourings in here, like cinnamon and nutmeg. I like to use mixed spice, orange zest and soaked raisins.
3. Leave it overnight
You’ll then leave the dough overnight in the fridge, for at least 12 hours. This is so that the sourdough starter in the dough can slowly get to work.
4. Prove the dough & shape
Once the 12 hours are up, take the dough out of the fridge for a few hours and wait for it to warm back up again. As the hot cross bun dough warms up it will begin to prove.
Once it is back at room temperature you will deflate the dough and divide it into 8 pieces that will be formed into rounds. These are then covered and proved for 30 minutes, or until they double in size.
Now you can heat up your oven and pipe the crosses on to the buns.
5. Bake the buns
Bake the hot cross buns in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are lovely and golden brown. Take them out of the oven and brush them over with your marmalade glaze.
Let them cool down for at least 10 minutes before eating. In my opinion, they are best eaten after allowing them to cool completely and then toasting them.
Sourdough hot cross buns
- 100 g Sourdough starter
- 225 g Strong white bread flour
- 225 g White spelt flour
- 100 ml Warm water
- 100 ml Oat milk - room temperature
- 3 tbsp Aquafaba - the water from a tin of chickpeas
- 50 g Plant butter
- 10 g Salt
- 50 g Caster sugar
- 100 g Raisins - soaked in brandy for 2/3 hours
- ½ Orange - the zest of
- 1 tsp Ground mixed spice
- 4 tbsp Plain white flour
- 1 tbsp Golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp Cold water
- 1 tbsp Marmalade - pass through a sieve to make it smooth
- 1 tbsp Water
- Combine the starter, flour, water, and milk in a mixing bowl and mix together until fully incorporated
- Add the aquafaba and plant butter and mix in until the dough is sticky
- Cover the bowl and set it aside to rest in a warm place for 1 hour
- Now add in the salt, sugar, orange zest, spice, and soaked raisins and knead the dough slowly until it is smooth and silky which should take about 6-8 minutes (you can use an electric mixer or use the no-knead method and fold every 30 mins for 4 hours)
- Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave it in the fridge overnight (for around 12 hours)
- Take the dough out of the fridge the morning after and leave it to prove at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
- Deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces
- Shape them into rounds, place onto a well-floured board and dust them with flour. Cover the board with a plastic bag and leave to prove for around 30 minutes, or until they’ve doubled in size
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (fan).
- Whisk together the flour and water for the crosses. Place into a piping bag
- Place the risen buns onto a baking tray, and leave a little space in between each bun as they will grow in the oven.
- Snip off the end of the piping bag to make a small hole and pipe a cross on top of each one.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown, and leave a few minutes longer if they are still pale.
- In the meantime, place the marmalade and water into a small saucepan and melt together on medium heat. Set aside until the buns have baked
- Take the buns out of the oven and brush over the glaze. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
- Let them sit for about 10 minutes and then serve, or leave them to cool completely and toast to reheat.