My husband loves hot cross buns. He also loves stollen. And fruit cake. The common denominator to many of his beloved breads and cakes are dried fruit. Raisins. I cringe at the thought. But like any good baker, I will always give new recipes a try, no matter the amount of raisins. These hot cross buns were an Easter request, and I must say I am now a convert. Leave it to the Brits to come up with possibly the best hot cross buns I've ever had.
A note on icing
Hot cross buns traditionally have an icing that is baked on in the oven. It's a floury paste, to be exact. That is, flour mixed with water that is then piped onto the buns. Maybe that's what threw me off the first time I ate these. And maybe that's your thing. Aesthetically, it looks pretty cool with the cross baked on. I respect your preferences. For me, a royal icing with tart lemon juice to offset the sweet will be my go to from now on.
Sourdough hot cross buns
Adapted from James Morton's Brilliant Bread
Total active time: 30 minutes
Total time before mass consumption: 3.5 hours
Servings: 12 hot cross buns
350g bread flour
100g whole wheat flour
14g instant yeast
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg, finely grated
100g white sourdough starter, 100% hydration
30g apple brandy (regular brandy will do, too)
50g butter, very soft
170g whole milk
100g candied peel
50g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
125g icing sugar
juice from half a lemon
Tools & equipment
stand mixer (optional)
12 x 9.5 inch baking sheet or tray
About 12 hours before you start baking, feed 25g of sourdough starter with 75g water and 75g flour. Let ferment for 8-12 hours, until bubbly.
Butter a 12 x 9.5 inch baking pan. Set aside until ready to use.
Add all of the ingredients up to and including the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Be sure to keep the yeast and the salt separate from each other in the bowl.
In a small pot, heat the milk to between 120°F and 130°F. Add the milk to the bowl of the stand mixer.
Mix the ingredients with the dough hook attachment on low, until there are no more dry bits of flour.
Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let sit for 30 minutes.
Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Add the raisins, currants, and candied peel. Continue kneading for another 5 minutes or so, until the dough passes the windowpane test.
Lightly oil a clean bowl and add your dough. Cover and let proof for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. At this point, you can also throw the dough in the fridge overnight, and continue with the next steps in the morning for freshly baked buns before 10am!
Once proved, weigh your dough. Divide the weight by 12, and that will give you how much each bun should weigh. For example, my dough weighed 1.13 kg. Divided by 12, that gave me roughly each bun weighing in at 94g. This doesn't have to be too exact. Roll each individual bun into a ball, and place on your prepared baking sheet or tray.
Let proof for about 1.5 hours at room temperature.
With about 30 minutes before your buns are proved, preheat your oven to 450°F.
When ready, turn your oven down to 415°F and bake your hot cross buns for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
While they're baking, make the glaze. In a small pot, mix together the sugar, water, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Make your icing. In a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice. You may not need all the juice from half the lemon. You want to be able to pipe the glaze, so add the juice accordingly. Add the icing to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
When the buns are ready, brush them with your cinnamon glaze. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Pipe the icing over the buns in the traditional cross shape.
Enjoy while they're warm!