An extra post for Easter! Had intended to have it up earlier today, Holy Saturday, but what can you do? Time gets away from us all sometimes… These hot cross buns take a reasonable amount of forethought, being sourdough, but I’m willing to bet you can convert them to commercial yeast pretty easily, you’d just miss out on the chewiness and extra flavour that the sourdough brings to them.
I had real trouble on deciding what to call these hot cross buns. They are flavoured with spiced chai, citrus zest and cranberries. They are sourdough risen, they have brown sugar in them, and a honey glaze gives them their lovely shine. There are so many flavours that I’m not sure which ones to highlight. Cranberry Chai is all very well, but what about the citrus? Citrus Cranberry Chai Sourdough Hot Cross Buns seems too much of a mouthful. I do like the abbreviation HXB, but it’s a bit vague and futuristic. CCC HXB? No.
I stuck with the Cranberry Chai option, in the hope that it would sound interesting enough to draw people in, whereupon they could marvel at the full luxurious list of flavours in these little beauties. I started off with this sourdough hot cross bun recipe from Spice and More. I followed the method closely when it came to rising and folding the dough, but I made my own way with the flavours.
One of the key things I changed was to use orange, lemon and lime zest in the recipe – triple citrus! The smell was delicious in my kitchen, and I loved the colours, especially when they were mixed through the dough next to the big red cranberries and the speckles of tea and spices.
Here’s my recipe to make 18 buns:
- 250g sourdough starter
- 400g plain flour
- 100g wholemeal bread flour
- 100g dried cranberries or Craisins
- 50g brown sugar
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- zest of 1 lime
- the contents of 1 spiced chai teabag
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 egg
- 100ml warm water
- 100ml soy milk
- 1 tbsp honey
Interlude: here’s a recent photo of Louie. He’s going strong! He’s been living on the worktop and getting fed at least every other day. I went back to warm water because it made him bubblier and happier. He eats plain, rye and wholemeal flour with no issues. It does add up though, so I’ve put him back in the fridge to live for a while.
For the crosses:
- 75g plain flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp oil
- juice of 1/2 orange
- 1 tbsp honey
It’s quite a long ingredient list, but it’s worth it – besides, how often do you make HXBs? You may as well make them extra special. I did consider calling them Extra Special Hot Cross Buns but it wasn’t enough of a hook… I mean, *everyone* thinks their baking is extra special, right? Also that sounds a bit like I might have put drugs in them, which I haven’t.
- Put the sourdough starter and all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put the remaining wet ingredients in a jug and whisk together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix everything with a spatula to make a sticky dough.
- Put the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead at a medium speed for 10 minutes. You can also knead by hand for fifteen to twenty minutes, making sure to keep your hands slightly wet to stop the dough from sticking. You will end up with a wet, slightly sticky but smooth and shiny dough.
- Oil a large tupperware box, and place the dough in the centre, turning it over once to coat it with oil, then cover and sit in a warm place for 90 minutes.
- Open the box and fold the dough. This is easier to do than to describe but I’ll do my best. The dough will have settled and expanded into a rectangle to fit the box. Sit the box with the long edge facing you, then lift the right hand edge of the dough up and over, until the edge is resting in the middle of the dough. Do the same with the left edge. The centre third of the dough will not have moved, you are just piling the rest up.
- Cover again and rest for a further 9o minutes.
- Fold the dough again, as above, then cover.
- Place the tupperware in the fridge overnight. This is what it should look like in the morning:
- In the morning, pull off chunks of the dough and shape into balls, as equally sized as you can make them. Slightly flatten them out and place them on a baking sheet which has been lined with oiled greaseproof paper. Leave space between them to allow for rising.
- Put the baking sheets in a warm place to rise for *another* 90 minutes. This is a slow, gentle process.
- In the last ten minutes of rising time, pre-heat your oven to 200C and prepare the batter for the crosses.
- To make the crosses, whisk all the ingredients in a jug to form a sticky, stiff paste. Fit a piping bag with a narrow round nozzle, and scrape the paste into the bag. Pipe crosses on the buns.
- Bake the HXBs for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a rack to cool. Heat the honey for glazing until it’s very runny – about 20 seconds in the microwave, and brush over the top of each bun before they cool. Your buns will magically transform into something beautifully shiny! Er… the hot cross buns, that is…
I’ve actually reserved half of the dough to try and make tiny HXBs on Monday to take into work on Tuesday, so we’ll see if the dough will survive in the fridge OK until then. I hope so, because these are a pretty special something, borne of much thought and time, and many ingredients. I’d hate to waste any of them, but it’ll be good to experiment and see if the baking can be delayed – it’s always a bonus to be able to prepare ahead of time.
Happy Easter, if you’re celebrating, and just a plain old Happy Sunday if you’re not.