Fluffy, spiced and generously studded with fruit, these fluffy Sourdough Hot Cross Buns are something I look forward to every year! A recipe for a true British Easter Classic – traditional Hot Cross Buns, but without any commercial yeast! Our naturally-leaved Easter buns are spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and just a smidge of ginger! They are further improved with a good measure of mixed peel, sultanas and orange zest!
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Sweet Buns for Easter
Whether or not you are spending time at home this Easter, whether or not you’re surrounded by family and friends or having some quiet time alone, there’s no excuse – you have to make some Hot Cross Buns! With Sourdough peaking in popularity over the last few years, we suggest you try making your buns using an active sourdough starter this year. Spiced and fruity, just like regular Easter buns, sourdough is a great addition, extending the sweet & fruity flavours with a bit of sour tang in the spiced dough.
Most sourdough bakes take a bit of patience. Sourdough Hot Cross Buns are not an exception. Whilst the bulk fermentation and individual bun proofing take time, the hands-on time is really not very long! And the results… well, utterly delicious!
So if you’re planning to make these for Easter Sunday breakfast, you need to start in the evening on a Good Friday!
Here is a list of equipment that you will ideally need to make the sourdough hot cross buns:
- Stand Mixer with a Dough Hook Attachment: we use and highly recommend Kenwood Chef Stand Mixer.
- A flexible dough scraper is irreplaceable when it comes to shaping tight balls of dough (the perfect tool for that surface tension) or simply scraping the dough out of bowls.
- A baking tray with high rims is ideal, as you can cover the buns and leave them to proof, without a tea towel/ plastic wrap touching the top of the buns.
- A small piping bag with a thin nozzle for piping the traditional cross that gives the hot cross uns their signature appearance. Alternatively, you can use a simple ziplock bag with a corner cut-off.
- A pastry brush for brushing the Hot Cross Buns with a sugar glaze.
- Parchment paper.
If you are looking forward to having fresh buns on Easter Sunday Morning, you do need to get organized in advance! Start on Friday evening.
DAY 1: In the Evening
- 10 PM or just before bed: soak the fruit and feed your starter.
DAY 2: The Next Morning
- 7 AM: Make the hot cross bun dough and leave it to bulk rise for 4 hours in a warm place (or longer if needed, just let the dough rise until it doubles in volume).
- 12 PM: Incorporate the fruit, shape the buns and leave to prove again for 5-6 hours.
- 7 PM: Place the buns in the fridge overnight. This is their final rise.
- 7 AM: Pipe the crosses and bake.
- 8 AM: Glaze and let them cool down for 20 minutes.
- 8:30 AM: Serve the freshly baked buns for a wonderful Easter Sunday breakfast treat!
Ingredients and Substitutes
Here’s what you will need:
- dried fruit: raisins, sultanas, currants or a mixture.
- mixed peel: or simply orange peel.
- orange zest & juice: you may use lemon zest in addition to or as a substitute for orange zest.
- strong bread flour: we used strong white flour, with 12.5% gluten content. Using all purpose flour will result in flatter buns (although you may use plain flour for the crosses).
- light brown sugar: may be replaced with dark brown sugar. We do not recommend substituting brown sugar with white sugar, as the buns may turn out a bit dry.
- spices: ground cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, ground ginger, ground nutmeg.
- milk: we used whole milk in this recipe.
- egg: medium in the UK, large in the US.
- active starter: active bubbly sourdough starter is of paramount importance. It should have strong and lively yeast colonies to give rise to this enriched dough.
- softened butter: cut into thin slivers, small knobs.
- caster sugar: also known as superfine sugar, for the glaze.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Recipe
Day 1: Just before Bedtime
The last thing just before going to bed, feed your starter in the ratio of 1 part starter: 2 parts flour : 2 parts water. Leave it semi-covered at room temperature overnight (8-9 hours) until it doubles in volume. If your house is very warm overnight, feed the starter in the ration of 1 part starter : 3 parts flour : 3 parts water. It will take longer to double in size that way. The important thing to remember is that you want to use your starter when it’s at its peak, not after it started deflating.
At the same time as you feed your starter, place all sultanas/raisins, mixed peel, orange zest and juice in a small bowl, cover and leave to soak. We used raisins, sultanas and mixed citrus peel this time, but we also love adding some chopped dried apricots when we have some in the cupboard.
First thing in the morning, or when your starter is at its peak, place all the dough ingredients (except for butter) in a bowl of a stand mixer and run it for a couple of minutes to bring all the ingredients together into a shaggy dough. One sliver at a time, start adding butter. Carry on mixing for 10-12 minutes on medium speed until the butter is incorporated, the dough is soft and elastic and is gathering around the dough hook in the mixer bowl.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and form a tight ball. Place it into a lightly oiled large bowl and leave it in a warm spot to prove for 4 hours, or until almost doubled in size. This is an enriched dough, so it will take some more time to proof compared to typical sourdough bread.
Drain the fruit and squeeze out any excess moisture, discarding the orange juice.
Once the dough has doubled, stretch it out into a rough rectangle on a floured kitchen surface. Spread half of the dried fruit onto the surface, then fold the dough like a pamphlet: fold the bottom third into the centre and then the top third over the bottom. Rotate the dough and stretch it out slightly. Scatter the remaining fruit and fold the dough like a pamphlet again. Now knead the dough for a minute or two to incorporate the fruit.
Roll the dough into a log and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball, tucking in the bottom to create surface tension on the top.
Place the balls, seam side down on a baking parchment-lined tray (ideally with a high rim, so you can cover it without touching the tops of the buns). Flat-bottom roasting trays work great here. Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm spot to rise for approx 4-5 hours. They don’t need to double in size, as they will continue proving overnight.
Place the tray in the fridge overnight (we tested the buns proofed for 8 hours as a minimum and 10-12 hours max, and we found that longer final proof made a positive difference to both the flavour and the texture of the buns).
Day 3: Morning
Take the tray with Sourdough Buns out of the fridge and leave them on a kitchen surface for half an hour or so, to warm up a little bit. Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan.
Mix together the white flour with enough water to make a thick paste, then add it to a small piping/icing bag with a thin nozzle (TIP: you can use a plastic ziplock bag with a corner cut). Pipe crosses over the buns.
Place the hot cross buns in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are a deep golden brown colour.
Whilst the buns are in the oven, mix sugar and water for the glaze in a small saucepan. Warm on low heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Leave the mixture to simmer for a few minutes, until it thickens into a syrupy consistency. You may use apricot glaze instead if you have some apricot jam in the fridge.
When the buns are cooked, brush them with sugar glaze and leave them to cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack before eating.
These hot cross buns are best the day they are baked slathered in butter!
How to Store Hot Cross Buns?
These Sourdough Hot Cross Buns are certainly at their best on the day that they are baked. However, eating 12 buns in one day is a tall order 🙂 Store any leftover buns in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days. For best results, cut the buns in half, toast and serve with butter (or clotted cream!) if you are serving these Easter Buns the next day.
Absolutely! Arrange the buns in a single layer in an airtight freezer-friendly box and freeze. Refrost before toasting and topping with your favourite spreads!
We personally love toasted Hot Cross Buns slathered in salted butter. However, other great toppings include clotted cream, marmalade and peanut butter. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, make a mature cheddar sandwich (trust me, it works!) or fill your buns with crispy bacon (yes, Hot Cross Bacon Sandwich is all the rage these days!).
You can use pretty much any dried fruit you have. Add some chopped dried apricots, currants, candied fruit, dried cranberries or even chopped-up dried figs.
Other Sourdough Recipes
If our Sourdough Hot Cross Bun Recipe left a good first impression, let us know in the comments below! For other ideas for delicious Sourdough Bakes, have a look at our suggestions below:
- Crusty Sourdough Baguettes | Overnight Recipe
- Apple and Cinnamon Sourdough Buns
- Sourdough Cinnamon & Raisin Bread
- Sourdough Croissants
- Overnight Sourdough Focaccia with Herbs and Olives
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
- Baking Tray with High Rims
For the Fruit:
- 80 g raisins, sultanas, currants or a mixture
- 40 g mixed peel
- 1 orange zest & juice
For the Dough:
- 450 g strong bread flour
- 55 g light brown sugar
- 2½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 220 ml milk
- 1 egg medium
- 150 g active sourdough starter
- 60 g butter cut into thin slivers
For the Crosses:
- 45 g plain flour
- 20 ml water
For the Glaze:
- 50 g caster sugar
- 2 tablespoon water
Day 1: Evening
- Last thing just before going to bed, feed your starter in the ratio of 1 part starter: 2 parts flour : 2 parts water. Leave it semi-covered at room temperature overnight (8-12 hours) until it doubles in volume.
- At the same time as you feed your starter, place all your dried fruit, orange zest and juice in a bowl, cover and leave to soak.
- When your starter is at its peak, place all the dough ingredients (except for butter) in a bowl of your stand mixer and mix for a couple of minutes to bring all the ingredients together. One sliver at a time, start adding butter. Using a dough hook attachment knead for 10-12 minutes on medium speed until the butter is incorporated, and the dough is soft and elastic.
- Tip the dough onto a work surface and shape a tight bowl. Then place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let it proof at room temperature for approx. 4-5 hours.
- Drain the fruit and squeeze any excess moisture out.
- Tip the dough onto a clean kitchen surface and stretch it out into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough and fold it over a couple of times to incorporate the fruit (see more details on the method above).
- Divide the dough into 12 even sized pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball, tucking in the bottom to create a smooth top.
- Place the balls, seam side down on a baking parchment-lined baking tray (ideally with high rims, so you can cover the dish without touching the tops of the balls). Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave in a warm spot to rise for approx 5-6 hours. They don't need to double in size, as they will continue proving overnight.
- Place the tray in the fridge overnight (8-10 hours).
- Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan.
- Mix together the flour with enough water to make a thick paste, then add it to a small piping/icing bag with a thin nozzle. Pipe crosses over the buns.
- Place the hot cross buns in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are a deep brown colour.
- Whilst the buns are in the oven, mix sugar and water for the glaze in a small saucepan. Warm on low heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few moments until it thickens to a syrupy consistency.
- When the buns are cooked, brush them with sugar glaze and leave them to cool for 20 minutes before eating.
- These hot cross buns are best the day they are baked slathered in butter!
These buns were so soft, fluffy and delicious! They were the perfect addition to our brunch spread this morning!
Thanks, Anjali! Glad you enjoyed them! 🙂
These hot cross buns are everything I need especially while the weather has a little chill in it. I will probably make them all year round. Gorgeous recipe!
Thanks! We make these all year round too, but reserve the crosses on top for Easter only. We call them Hot Buns all year, and then Hot Cross Buns at Easter 🙂
the recipe was easy to follow and everyone loved it! thanks!
I am always so glad to hear that everyone loved it! Thanks a lot for taking the time to leave the feedback! 🙂
Absolute brilliant use of sour dough, and makes hot cross buns so much better!
We agree 100% – sourdough makes them so much more flavoursome! Thanks, Michelle! 🙂
I love sourdough! These look amazing.
Thanks, Ashley! We think they are tastier than the usual ones from the shop 🙂