Sourdough Hot Cross buns

sourdough hot cross buns
Jump to recipe

Come Easter, this is something I look forward to. There is so much bliss in biting into a buttered warm hot cross bun. It goes so well with black coffee (specially the long black I miss so much) and for me it’s a completely satisfying breakfast.

I can’t stomach the ordinary store bought stuff ever since I started baking my own bread, rolls and buns. If I am buying these, I make sure to go to the best local bakery available. I am so glad that there are still some small scale bakeries that make good, wholesome bread products without the chemicals.

sourdough hot cross bun
A good slathering of butter

Making hot cross buns were one of the favorite things I adored during my time as a baker. I used to make these by the hundreds at the small local bakery cafe, I worked last. I still remember how the whole place was filled with the aroma of warm sticky hot cross buns as they came out of hot ovens every morning. I think I liked making them as much as I love eating them.

sourdough hot cross buns

So this is my sourdough version of the much loved bun. I love the yeasted version too, specially when you don’t have the patience to wait two days for the bun to come out. As many of you have noticed by now, I am a little obsessed with the natural yeast, so it’s only natural that I’m making them to be sourdough.

hot cross buns

I love to load my hotX with currents and raisins and mildly spice with cinnamon, nutmeg and tinge of cloves. But feel free to add whatever you like. I know some like to add dried peel, lemon/orange zest. Or you can use dried blueberries, sour cherries instead. Last but not least, these can be made into chocolate buns, by adding a bit of cocoa to the dough and I have had great success in replacing fruit with chocolate chips. Mmmm…that said, I might whip up a chocolate batch later this month.

sourdough hot cross buns
best served warm with butter

Find the step by step guide below as usual and like all other sourdough recipes, this one’s success depends on the starter! So get your starter, refreshed and all bubbly and active before attempting the recipe.


Make the starter ready at least 6 hours before you start mixing. The time depends on how much you feed and the activity of your starter. Read more here

For this I’m using a 80% hydrated starter.


Weigh everything, except for the dried fruit and water, into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Make sure butter is softened and egg and milk is at room temperature.

If you don’t have bread flour, replace with all-purpose flour!


Mix on low speed adding water gradually. I had about a two table spoon water left after mixing. When the dough comes together, increase the speed by a notch and mix for a bout two minutes. Scrape the sides and clear the hook as you do. When the dough looks like in the picture, you can add the dried fruit.

Mix on low speed only until the fruit are incorporated. Do not over-mix!

dough with fruit

Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Give a few stretch and folds or slap and folds (which ever is more comfortable) until the dough becomes smooth. Check the next picture.


Once the dough a smooth dough ball like in the picture, place in in a plastic tub, cover with a lid and leave in a warm place for the fermentation to take place. This may take about 3-4 hours. You will see the dough grown considerably. Check next picture.

rinses dough

The dough will be risen and feel much softer and elastic. Punch down the dough and round it up again. A stretch and fold would do. Check the next picture.

rounded up dough

Then place back in the same bowl, cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for the retardation or the long slow fermentation. This is when all the flavor is begin created.

This could be anywhere from 12 – 18 hours. The more you leave it to retard, the sour the flavor will be.

retarded dough

Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature ( take about 3 hours) Now it’s time to divide the dough. So get the dough on to a lightly dusted surface. check next picture.

divide the dough

Divide the dough in to 12 equal pieces. In my case, it was about 95 g each. Once divided, let these rest for about 30 minutes. Make sure to cover them to prevent from drying out. Then you can round up them into smooth dough balls. Check the next picture.

dough balls

Shape them just like normal rolls. Check this video to get an idea. Then place them on a tray lined with a baking paper. Cover the whole tray and place it in a warm place for the final rise or until they are doubled in size. It took 3 and half hours in warm place (I use the oven with a boiling bowl of water placed in and then change water once or twice)

risen buns

Once the buns are risen, pre-heat the oven to 375 F and prepare the flour mixture for the cross. Check next picture.

flour mixture

Mix 1/3 cups flour with 1/4 + 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp sugar and pinch of salt. It should have no lumps and be in dripping consistency.


Fill a piping bag ( any plastic bag/zip-lock bag would do) Cut a small hole at the tip. Keep this ready but do not pipe until the oven is ready. You wouldn’t be using all of it, so make less if you can or keep this in the fridge for a day or two for a next batch.

pipe the cross

Once the oven is ready, pipe the cross over the buns as shown in the picture and place the rolls in the oven (on a rack placed at the top 3/2 of the oven/slightly above center) Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until top is nicely turned brown. I usually rotate the tray at 20 minute mark as my oven doesn’t distribute heat evenly.

baked buns

While the buns are begin baked, make a sugar syrup. Mix 1/4 sugar and 1/4 cup water, bring to a boil and let simmer for about a minute. As soon as the buns come out, brush them lightly with sugar syrup. check next picture.

brush with sugar syrup

Brush the buns while they are still very hot, this way, some of the syrup get absorbed. This will make the rolls softer and will keep them from drying out. Also they’ll look all shiny and attractive.

let them cool off

Once done, place the buns on a wire rack to cool off.

serve with butter

Serve with some butter. You can warm up the buns in the microwave. These can be stored in an air tight container for about two days at room temperature (19 C – 22 C) Or place in the fridge to keep for longer. They freeze well too.

A close up

You may also like


  1. Am I meant to soak the fruit in the water?
    It says add all except fruit and water but I canโ€™t find where you add the water?

  2. Hi Admin, love your blog a lot, definitely amazing and truely Iโ€™m speachless to see your outcomes.
    For this Hot cross bun, I have one concern about 150g active starter (80% hydration), Can you show me the recipe to build this, I mean you will take 50g culture and mix with 60g flour and 48g water then leave for 6 hours, finally you will have 150g starter ?.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you very much Kien, for the complement.
      Regarding making a starter, So first we feed about a teaspoon/tablespoon of culture to build our starter. So we really don’t have to weigh that.
      So what I would normally do is make a flour pulp of 80% hydration ( eg: 100g flour 80g water) and mix the teaspoon of our culture/starter with it and leave for 6-8 hours, and then weigh 150g from that. The rest can be discarded or used in another recipe. To minimize waste you can use less flour and water, its up to you. Hope it is clear enough.

      1. Oh gosh, got it, whatever we take flour and water and just 80% hydration is okay, right ?. Thank you.
        And about the weight of Culture, I am wondering that we donโ€™t have to weight exactly number to fit with the ratio with flour and water, for ex: 0.5culture:1four:0.8water. I ask you this just cause If I wanna make a larger batches and when making a starter we still only use tablespoon of culture and calculate the appropriate flour and water to get starter ?.
        For ex: your recipe is for 12 rolls, now I wanna make 96-100 rolls for party, so I will multiply your recipe by 8 and the starter will be 150*8 = 1,200(g). So the question here is we will still use only a tablespoon of culture and mix with 750g flour and 600g water (80% hydration) to make starter ?, or we will increase the amount of culture to one bigger number ?, and If we have to increase the amount of culture, so how do we know how much we need to increase ?.
        Gosh sorry to make you busy and confused :D.
        Love and thank you.

        1. You are correct about the first part. But when we double the recipe, everything should be doubled even the culture. If you still feed 1 teaspoon, then you have to let it ferment for longer. It is the amount of yeast cells in the starter that matters. For a larger dough you need more of these guys.
          But if you want to make 100 rolls, that’s not home baking any more. That’s like micro bakery capacity.
          If you feed a teaspoon with 1200g flour + 750g water it will take a lot longer for the little amount of yeast to multiply. Think about the yeast density in the starter. So if you still need your BIG starter be ready in 8 hours, then logically you have to feed a lot more than a teaspoon, say 8 – 10 teaspoons or half a cup. Hope this makes sense. I have another post about Starters and also a post about basics of bread making where I talk more about starters, so would be helpful in understanding fully. Hope this helps. No need to apologize, I am more than happy to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. Hi, Okay, so Now I get what you meant above, the more culture you add the less time to make starter we have, right ?. Hi.
            Once again, thank you and good to see ur blog.

  3. These look beautiful! Iโ€™m wondering if you think I could shape these and then put them in the fridge for the retardation.


    1. Yes you can. But when I did that, I had found them under-proofed sometimes, so you might have to leave them out(to finish proofing) before baking.

  4. Can this recipe be adapted for vegans? I have been looking for a vegan sour dough hit cross bun recipe but have found nothing. Iโ€™m wondering what to use instead of egg.

    1. Yes this can be converted into vegan without a problem.
      Skip the eggs,substitute the milk with a plant milk, use oil instead of butter.
      Eggs add bit of protein (structure) and fat (crumb softness/richness) but this recipe can do without.
      Hope this helps.

  5. Thank you for the delicious recipe! Easy to follow and they turned about soooo good. Mine were a bit more tangy, I think I let the ferment go a bit longer. Will definitely be making these again!

    1. Thank you for valuable feedback. You can also bake them the same day, you know… it will have very less ( almost none) sourdough flavor

  6. I tried your recipe this past weekend in preparation for Easter and highly recommend folks to try this. Your instructions are easy to follow and the end result, for a novice sourdough baker, is truly mind blowing. After following over a dozen of your recipes the results always over exceed my expectations. It is obvious to me that your recipes (even some of the non sourdough recipes on your blog) are tried and true!
    For anyone who likes to use a portion of ancient grains or sprouted grains in their recipes, I used a 100% rye starter with 40% of a sprouted rye/spelt/white flour and 60% all purpose white. I was very happy with the result and the flavour was out of this world. Many, many thanks Vindi! Through your testing and practicing, you have now freed me from having to try and fail.
    Happy Easter Everyone!

    1. ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel very accomplished reading your feedback. That is exactly what I am striving for!
      Thank you for recognizing my efforts and for the great tips for anyone subbing the flours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.