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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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)
Once the buns are risen, pre-heat the oven to 375 F and prepare the flour mixture for the cross. Check next picture.
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.
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.
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 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.
Once done, place the buns on a wire rack to cool off.
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.