Hot cross buns and loaf…

Today I proudly give you my sourdough hot cross buns! I am so happy with these, all of my taste testers have given them a thumbs up, and now I happily share them with you in celebration of the upcoming release of my new book and in readiness for Easter..

For the rolls, I used my lighter enriched sourdough recipe from my book The Sourdough Whisperer as my base, and I made 2 versions: one all white flour, and one wholegrain version. For the loaf, I made a dough with oat milk and maple syrup that could also be used for rolls.

Sourdough hot cross buns are never going to be as light and fluffy as shop bought yeasted hot cross buns, these have more texture and depth to them, as you’d expect from a sourdough version, plus I did pack in a lot of dried fruit and peel! But, I am very happy to say that each of people that taste tested them (and there was quite a few) gave them a big thumbs up!

Dough notes: please keep in mind that these doughs are slow to fully prove, even without the additions, enriched and milk based doughs are slow growers; add in the dried fruit and peel, and theyre even heavier; add in the spices and especially the cinnamon, and it slows them down even more. So don’t worry if they havent fully proved in the morning, just leave them and give them a few more hours to do their thing.

My hot cross buns

Makes 12 rolls

Dough Ingredients

White flour version:

50 g active starter

330 g reduced-fat or 2% milk or plant-based milk

1 large egg yolk (reserve egg white for brushing)

50 g butter (I use slightly salted butter), at room temperature

50 g runny honey

500 g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

7 g salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Wholegrain flour version:

50 g active starter (I used my wholewheat starter but you can use any starter made with any flour)

330 g reduced-fat or 2% milk or plant-based milk (I used oat milk)

1 large egg yolk (reserve egg white for brushing)

50 g butter (I use slightly salted butter), at room temperature

50 g runny honey

250 g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting

250 g wholegrain spelt flour

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

1 tsp salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Note: I used a mix of dried fruit and mixed dried peel, mine included sultanas, raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, orange peel and lemon peel.

For the crosses, for use just before baking only

100 g plain/all purpose flour

100 g water

For the glaze, for use after baking only

100 ml water

100 ml honey

Optional

Try adding 1 tbsp orange essence, and/or 75g chocolate chips, to the dough, or anything else you fancy!

Equipment

A medium baking tray lined with parchment paper

Icing bag with smallest nozzle, or sandwich bag with tiny hole cut in one corner

Method

Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all of the dough ingredients, except the reserved egg white. It will be a very sticky dough, even sticker if you are using the wholegrain spelt flour, and it may be easier to use a bowl scraper or spatula to mix it at this stage. Leave it roughly mixed, cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter.

Step 2: After 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough. Lift and pull the dough across the bowl as far as you can, turn the bowl slightly and repeat, round and round the bowl, until the dough come into a soft studded ball, then stop; it will be a sticky dough, but will eventually easily come into the soft ball. You may find that you have to fold the dough over onto itself rather than pull it and stretch it at this point. Cover the bowl again and leave it to sit on the counter.

Step 3: Over the next few hours, perform three more sets of pulls and folds on the dough, covering the bowl after each set. The dough will remain sticky but will become stretchier, and should come together into a nice soft ball each time. Do the final set before going to bed.

Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 10 to 12 hours, at 18 to 20°C/64 to 68°F.

Step 5: In the morning, hopefully the dough will have grown to double in size, with a smooth surface. If the dough has not doubled yet, allow it a few more hours to continue to prove. This is a very slow and heavy dough, even heavier than usual with all the added dried fruits, and it may take longer to fully prove.

Once ready to shape, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Have your lined pan ready. Cut the dough into 12 equal weight pieces. Shape each portion into a smooth ball, and place the dough balls onto the paper lined pan, spaced evenly, with 1-2 cm gaps between them. Cover the pan with a large plastic bag or damp tea towel, and leave it on the counter.

Allow the balls of dough to prove again, letting them grow to double the size. This may take 2 to 6 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Step 6: Mix the plain/all purpose flour with the water and stir it until it make a smooth paste. Spoon it into your piping bag. Use a small nozzle or cut a 2mm hole in your piping bag and test piping the paste on your counter, ensure that it holds its line when you pipe some out.

Note: testing the paste before piping it onto the prepared rolls is a tip that I was given from the brilliant Cherie Denham (read more about her at the end of the post). She also said that if you do test the paste on your counter and it’s too sloppy to hold itself, add more flour to the mix to thicken it up, and then test it again. If it’s holds a nice smooth line, go for it..

Mix the egg white with a tablespoon (15 ml) of water and brush the top of the balls of dough gently with it.

Pipe lines of flour paste across all of the buns to form the crosses.

My first ever piped crosses!

Step 7: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 200°C (400°F ) convection or 220°C (450°F) conventional.

If you preheated the oven, bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. If using a cold start, place the uncov-ered pan of dough in the oven, set the temperature as directed and set a timer for 30-35 minutes and bake until the rolls are browned.

Heat the water and honey in a pan over a medium heat, let it simmer and thicken slightly.

Step 8: Remove the pan from the oven and allow the rolls to cool briefly. Brush with the warm honey water to make them shiny. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool briefly before tucking in!

Note: you can also make a glaze using sugar and water, or there’s various other ways which you can find online.

Hot cross bun loaf

I made this dough and baked it as a loaf but it could also be used to make buns in the same way as the above process. I have used oat milk and maple syrup so this loaf is ideal as a vegan option, you could also use milk of your choice and honey if you’d prefer.

Note: you could also use either of the above doughs to make a loaf following the same process as below

Makes 1 loaf or 12 rolls

Ingredients for the dough

50 g active starter

375 g oat milk

500 g strong white bread flour

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

50 g maple syrup

7 g salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Optional for the criss cross design

50 g plain/all purpose flour

50 g water

Equipment

A lined loaf tin, I used my Pullman tin, minus its cover, 21.5 x 12.5 x 11.5 cm (81/2 x 5 x 41/2 inches)

An icing bag with tiny nozzle or sandwich bag with tiny hole cut in one corner

Method

Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the dough ingredients until you have a shaggy, rough dough. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter for 2 hours.

Step 2: After 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds until the dough feels less sticky and comes together into a soft studded ball. This will be a heavy dough. Cover the bowl again and leave it on your counter.

Step 3: After another hour of rest, do one more set of pulls and folds on dough, covering the dough again afterward.

Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 18 to 20°C/64 to 68°F.

Step 5: In the morning, hopefully the dough will have grown to double in size, with a smooth-ish dough surface around the dried fruits and peels. If the dough hasn’t grown sufficiently, give it more time, this is a heavy slow dough. Have your pan ready and place the paper liner on the counter. Gently lift and fold handfuls of dough from one side of the bowl into the middle in a line, using the same pulling and folding action as used previously. Turn the bowl 180 degrees and do the same on the other side so that you have a thick sausage of dough in the middle of the bowl.

With a wetted hand, place your whole hand over the dough, turn the bowl upside down and gently ease the dough from the bowl into your hand. Place the dough, seam side down, on the paper and slip your hand out from underneath the dough. Use the paper to lift the dough into the pan, cover it with the same shower cap and leave it on the counter. Allow the dough to proof again, letting it grow level with the edge of the pan until it is just peeking over the top. This may take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The surface will become smooth and the dough will spread to fill the pan.

This step can also be done in the fridge for a longer, slower second prove, up to 24 hours, and can be baked directly from the fridge.

Step 6: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 200°C (400°F ) convection or 220°C (450°F) conventional.

Option: to add the criss crosses, pipe a flour paste design across the top of the loaf before baking. Mix 50 g plain/all purpose flour with 50 g water until it makes a smooth paste, and use a piping bag to pipe lines across the top of the loaf.

A bit rough but it was my first ever attempt!

Step 7: If you preheated the oven, bake the loaf for 45 minutes. If you are using a cold start, place the pan of dough in the oven, set the temperature as above and set a timer for 50 minutes. If the surface of the loaf looks like it is going to bake darker than you would like, cover the top of the loaf with another pan or some foil.

Step 8: Remove the loaf from the oven and the pan, tap the base of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, the loaf is baked. If not, return it to the oven, out of the pan, directly onto the rack to bake it for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool briefly on a wire rack before slicing.

To glaze, brush with warmed, melted apricot jam or golden syrup after baking and while still warm.

I must say a huge thank you to the very brilliant Cherie Denham for holding my hand through making these, Cherie is a brilliant baker and cook and helped me hugely! If you’d like hear us in conversation do check out my recent podcast episode – Cherie is wonderful and a true inspiration. Find us talking here: https://foodbodpod.podbean.com/e/the-foodbod-pod-episode-2/ and subscribe to the channel so that you dont miss future episodes.

You can also find the podcast on Spotify, Amazon and Google.

If you like the creativeness of these recipes, you’re going to love my new book!