Sourdough Hot Cross Buns 28.03.2013

I’ve been experimenting with sourdough bread recently (mainly using the Tartine Bread Book method), so I wanted to try making sourdough HCBs for Easter. My recipe is very heavily based on this one, with a couple of small adjustments, and the results have been fantastic – thanks, SourDom!


You need an existing, active sourdough starter for this recipe.


  • 100 gms mixed, candied peel
  • 100 gms currants
  • 50 gms raisins
  • 1 cup of hot, strong, black tea
  • 2 tablespoons rye whiskey / bourbon / Scotch / whatever


  • 25 gms active starter
  • 340 gms warm milk
  • 250 gms white bread flour


  • 200g white bread flour
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 7g salt
  • 75g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 75g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes


  • 5 gms olive oil
  • 25 gms water
  • 25 gms flour

Suger syrup

  • 25 gms caster sugar
  • 25 gms water


You need to start this recipe 24 hours before you want to eat the buns.

Phase 1 – early morning

Mix the dried fruit with the tea and whiskey and leave to steep for ~12 hours. At the same time, make your bun starter by combining your active sourdough starter with the warm milk and flour. Mix them thoroughly so no dry bits remain, and leave to stand, covered with a tea towel for ~12 hours, or until the mixture is puffy. If you’ve made sourdough before, you’ll recognise the signs of a starter being ready to pass the ‘float test’ – which is to say that teaspoon of it dropped into a bowl of room-temperature water would float.

Phase 2 – early evening

Drain the liquid from the fruit and then mix the dough: combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then rub the butter into the mix, until you’ve got a breadcrumb-like consistency and there are no lumps of butter to be seen. Add the starter and the drained fruit and knead briefly in the bowl to mix – the dough will be wet and sticky, and it can help to oil or wet your hands before you do this.

Leave the dough to rest in the bowl for 10-15 minutes and then knead again.

Then, over the course of 3-4 hours, you have to fold the dough every hour – this video shows the basic technique, although because this dough is wetter and more fragile due to the fruit, mine didn’t really look or behave like this. The key is just to stretch it out as far as you can and fold it gently back over itself.

Phase 3 – late evening

When the dough has proved, you need to shape it. If you haven’t shaped buns before, this video helped me, although again, my dough wasn’t quite this well-behaved, and the stickiness does make it fairly difficult to handle. I needed to keep the bench well-oiled.

Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized lumps, shape each lump into buns, and place the buns a couple of centimetres apart on a baking tray lined with parchment. Cover with a tea-towel and leave in the fridge overnight.

Phase 4 – the next morning

Baking! Heat the oven to 200C and remove the buns from the fridge.

Make the cross mixture and get it into the piping bag.

Brush the buns with milk, and then pipe the crosses on (it’s easiest to pipe one long stripe across each row and then down each column, rather than crossing each bun individually).

Bake the buns for 25 minutes, turning the tray around halfway through if you oven is uneven, as mine is. While the buns are baking, make the sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water and simmering on the stove for a few minutes.

Finally, pull the buns out of the oven – they should be nicely browned but not black – and glaze them with the sugar syrup. Obviously it’s up to you as to whether you share these with friends and colleagues, but I wouldn’t. Make sure you have some posh French butter on hand to melt into them.

File under breakfast bread

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Virginia makes web things and food things. Mainly bread. Oh, bread.

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