Saturday, April 4, 2015

Homemade Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Ever since I was gifted some sourdough starter many months ago, I have kept it barely alive in my fridge, baking the odd bread, and making many more sourdough crumpets than I needed. (If you have ever tried making sourdough before, you will know the starter gets out of hand very quickly, since every time you feed it flour and water, you are doubling its volume.)

Naturally, when Easter rolled around and I thought about baking hot cross buns, I looked around for a sourdough recipe. Apart from needing to use up starter again, you can't buy sourdough hot cross buns in many places, and I was keen to taste them fresh from the oven. It's just as well we have public holidays right now, because they took quite some time to make, but the end results were delicious, if I do so say myself!

Homemade sourdough hot cross buns.

Here are some snaps from the bun making process. I settled on Kresha Faber's recipe on Nourishing Joy, simply because the photo of her creations looked so amazing.

I was lazy and pulled the starter straight out of the fridge, rather than feeding it again to make sure it was at optimum health. It had bubbled out of the jar a couple of days earlier, and I didn't really need twice as much batter again!

Sourdough starter with not as many bubbles as earlier.

The dough was supposed to come out sticky, but mine was getting dry, so I stopped adding flour, and even added a bit of water back in.

Combining the starter with the other ingredients for the dough.

Rather than making 24 hot cross buns of the same type, I divided the dough in half, and replaced the raisins with chocolate bits in one half. The pictures below are of the raisin ones though. Adding the butter made it beautifully soft.

Half of dough, with raisins and fruit peel mixed in.

After a couple of rounds of resting, the dough hadn't grown much, and I was worried that my buns would turn out to be dense bricks. However, I went ahead and shaped the dough into balls and placed them into buttered pans anyway.

Half of dough shaped into 12 balls.

To help the process along, I placed a piece of cling film (dusted with flour) over each tray and let the balls rise in the warmth of our hot water cupboard for 4 hours. They started nudging up against each other.

Dough after 4 hours in the hot water cupboard.

The recipe didn't specify how to make the crosses, so I followed the instructions from another recipe, this time from Paul Hollywood in the Good Food magazine. Unfortunately, I took "about 5 tbsp water" to mean exactly that much, and I ended up with a stiff batter that was very difficult to pipe. The crosses also came out quite hard after baking.

Buns piped with crosses.

The bread came out of the oven with a golden crust, looking a bit dry...

Hot cross buns after baking.

... but brushing on the glaze (I had no orange juice, so just thinned honey with a little bit of water) caused the crust make crackling noises and look a whole lot more appealing.

Hot cross buns after glazing.

I am used to supermarket hot cross buns being completely soft, but I enjoyed my own flavourful rolls with a crackly crust more, especially when hot and fresh. The bread was soft on the inside, and beautifully fragrant with lashings of butter.

Enjoying my hot cross buns.

This recipe made quite a few buns, so even though I gave half away, I may have to turn the rest into bread and butter pudding when they get stale. If you didn't want the buns to stick together, you would need to leave more space between them, so you could consider halving all the ingredients. To make them even better, I would be tempted to try using a more custardy recipe for the crosses next time, like in Ima's ones. Having said that, my first batch of hot cross buns exceeded my expectations anyway!

This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event aimed at inspiring us to try new things. This month, it is hosted by Nikki from Everyday Life Mom.


  1. Well done! I would never have guessed they were spaced so well apart and then expand so much. It's actually good to know, I would have placed them snug into the tray and I guess they'd end up squishing together into a loaf rather than individual buns. I hope you made a good dent into your sourdough starter. It sounds like a pet you have to look after and keep slim. :D

    1. Haha, great analogy - a starter is a bit like a pet, but to keep it slim, you don't feed it less or exercise it more... you stick it in the fridge and/or throw chunks of it away!

      BTW, do you know if there is something wrong with the linkup? I tried to add this post but it didn't appear. I tried to add it again and it said it was already added!

    2. I think I posted the wrong link but it's working now so you must have figured it out. Apologies!

  2. Starters sound so intimidating and I have greatly admired those who can keep theirs alive! Great job on the hot cross buns!

    1. Thanks! I am definitely no expert and found it greatly intimidating too. It always seemed like more trouble than it was worth when you can just buy yeast to bake bread. Since I was given the starter though, I thought I would give sourdough a go. I did end up with quite a few dense loaves, but I think I am starting to get the hang of it now.


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