sourdough hot cross buns

I just love a good hot cross bun.

Most Easters coincide with Passover putting hot cross buns off the menu but not this year. I'd not planned to make hot cross buns this year but when I saw this Mike McEnearney recipe in the April 2016 issue of Delicious Magazine I went out and bought currants and raisins and set to work.

This is not a 'I'll just whip these up' kind of recipe as you need to make the ferment at least 2 days in advance. There are also many, many steps in the recipe so by Sunday morning I ran out of puff and swapped the glaze for a very simple version. The buns have no added fat or sugar and are certainly more solid than the traditional hot cross bun but boy are they tasty warm from the oven, topped with some butter and a dollop of home made jam. I cooked half the batch and I've frozen the remaining buns to bake when the need arises.

I haven't quite sorted out my oven and even at my oven's maximum temperature, the buns took 40 minutes to bake. The bottoms were well cooked but the tops weren't even close to brown so I had to resort to the fan grill setting to colour the tops resulting in slightly crunchy crosses. You'll also notice I piped a less than traditional cross. It's a family thing.

Here's the recipe for you which you'll have to start 2 days ahead. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Sour Dough Hot Cross Buns - makes 12

Yeast Ferment
65g bread and pizza flour
¼ tsp instant yeast
2½ tbs warm water

Bun Dough
500g bread and pizza flour
370 mls lukewarm water
2 tsp fine salt
100g each sultanas and currants
200mls boiling water
1 Earl Grey tea bag
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp each ground allspice and cloves
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

juice of 1 orange, strained
100g caster sugar
2 tbs water

Piping Mixture
⅓ cup (50g) bread and pizza flour
½ tbs caster sugar
50 mls water

To serve

Good quality cultured butter

For the yeast ferment combine the flour, yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight to ferment. The next day gradually combine flour with 370 mls lukewarm water in a bowl. Slowly add to the yeast ferment and combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rest. Add the salt and gently knead in the bowl until the salt is incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rest. Working in the bowl, slightly stretch out one quarter of the dough and fold towards the middle, then take the opposite side and fold into the middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees and repeat with the remaining sides to complete a total of 4 folds. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a further 30 minutes. Repeat the folding and resting sequence 2 more times.

Meanwhile place the dried fruit, tea bag and 200mls boiling water in a bowl. Set aside for 2 hours or until fruit is plump. Remove tea bag and drain fruit well discarding the liquid. Add the spices, zest and fruit to the dough and knead until evenly distributed. Cover bowl and set aside to rest in a warm place for 2-3 hours or until risen by one-third. Turn out dough onto a floured work surface. Knead for 1 minute, and then divide into 12 equal pieces (about 100g each). Use your hand to roll each piece on the work surface to form a round bun. Place buns close together on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover tray with a clean tea towel and refrigerate overnight to ferment.

The next day, remove the buns from the fridge. Stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until slightly risen and soft to the touch. Meanwhile to make the glaze, place sugar and 2 tbs water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until dissolved and then boil without stirring for 3-4 minutes until a golden caramel. Remove from heat and then carefully stir in strained orange juice. Set aside to cool.

For the piping mixture, place the flour, sugar and water in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe lines horizontally across the buns then vertically until each is decorated with a cross.

Preheat oven to 220ºC. Splash a little water in the oven to create steam (this helps the bun expand before forming a crust) and then bake for 10 minutes or until slightly risen. Reduce oven to 200ºC and bake for a further 7-10 minutes until dark golden. Remove from the oven and then slide the baking paper and buns onto a wire rack. Brush hot cross buns with glaze and serve warm with butter.

I used this much easier glaze recipe from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook.

Glaze Recipe
¼ tsp gelatine
2 tbs warm water
1 tbs sugar

To make the glaze, sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small saucepan. When softened, dissolve over a low heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze while still hot. Stand the buns in a warm place, such as near the opened door of the turned-off oven. This helps to set the glaze.

The buns were a lot of work but they were delicious.

I hope you all enjoyed the Easter break with your families. I had a busy weekend catching up with friends and visiting Farmer Andrew in Dungog, so there was lots of baking and driving involved.

See you all again next week,

Bye for now,


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