Learn how to make this easy version of sourdough hot cross buns dotted with dried cranberries and topped with a simple orange glaze. Our recipe is perfect for beginner sourdough bread makers; making hot cross buns a breeze.
Perfectly moist and sweet with a hint of sour, these sourdough hot cross buns will shine at your Easter feast. Don’t reserve these buns for March or April, sourdough hot cross buns are delicious anytime of the year!
What Are Hot Cross Buns?
Hot cross buns are a spiced sweet bun that are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, marking the end of Lent. The cross is symbolic of Jesus’ crucifixion. No matter what your beliefs, these sourdough hot cross buns make a beautiful addition to your table on the holidays and act as the perfect side to your afternoon coffee or homemade Chai Latte!
What Do Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Taste Like?
These sourdough hot cross buns are better than anything you can buy at your local grocery store. They are moist, softly spiced, mixed with dried cranberries, and topped with a sweet cranberry glaze. Homemade sourdough hot cross buns are less sweet than cinnamon buns or other dessert buns but sweeter than a traditional bun- making them the perfect Easter dessert. Eat them fresh or enjoy them toasted with butter for days.
What to Love About Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
My husband and kids aren’t crazy about raisins in their sweet treats so we opted for dried cranberries (craisins.) The cranberries give the buns a unique flavour when paired with the slight tang of the sourdough! Like many other sourdough recipes, they stay moist for longer than traditional yeasted breads which means that they can be enjoyed for several days fresh or toasted. The spices in these buns are subtle and can be easily omitted or swapped out to suit your preferences. Sourdough hot cross buns can be made completely same-day by feeding your starter early in the morning or feed your starter late at night to speed up the process the next day!
Tips and Tricks
Egg wash your sourdough hot cross buns BEFORE piping the crosses onto them. I almost always forget this step and have to let the crosses set up in the oven for ten minutes and then pull the buns out, egg wash, and throw back in. While it is doable, it is much easier to do things in order the first time.
Make sure that your sourdough starter is active and bubbly. If that bad boy has been sitting on your fridge shelf for a week or two, it would be a good idea to give it a few feeds 12 hours apart to bring it back to life before attempting this hot cross buns recipe!
If you don’t have a piping bag to pipe the crosses onto your buns, simply cut a hole in a ziplock bag and pipe as normal. In a pinch, you could spread the crosses on with a knife- they just may not be as pretty.
Choose your favorite dried fruit to add to your hot cross buns!
- Active Sourdough Starter: Your sourdough starter should have at least doubled in size after the feed.
- Bread Flour: If you are in Canada you can get away with all-purpose flour because of the higher protein content.
- Salt: I love fine sea salt.
- Spices: I use cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice- they are warm and not overpowering.
- Butter: I prefer the taste of butter but margarine or another butter substitute would work as well.
- Dried Cranberries: I use ocean spray cranberries because they are easy to find in the grocery store.
- Orange Zest
- Granulated Sugar
- Cranberry Juice OR Orange Juice: Opt for 100% cranberry juice or orange juice for a stronger flavour of glaze.
Large 9×13 Casserole Dish: I was gifted this Le Creuset casserole dish from my mom and love the way it cooks buns- perfectly golden brown without a tough crust. If you are using a dark non-stick 9×13 pan, you may want to reduce the oven temp to 325 and check at 35 minutes! This is a similar casserole dish for a fraction of the price.
Basting Brush: I love this silicone basting brush because it is easy to clean.
Piping Bags or Ziplock Bags: I always keep a supply of these Wilton piping bags on hand for all kinds of icing projects- they are disposable for quick cleanup.
Food Scale: This is a must when making sourdough. I have an inexpensive scale that I got from Canadian tire and it works great- I love that it has a flat glass top that can easily be wiped. Be sure that you can zero your scale out and that it can handle at least 5lb capacity to account for heavy bowls and large amounts of dough. This scale has awesome reviews.
How to Make Hot Cross Buns
Step 1. Feed your starter late the night before you plan on baking your sourdough hot cross buns. Feed by weight 60g starter, 60g flour, 60g filtered water. Make sure that your container is large enough for the starter to grow more than double overnight or you will end up with a sticky mess. In the morning you should have about 180g of active starter in the morning- leaving you about 30g of discard.
Step 2. The next morning, mix together 1 cup of room temperature milk, 1 large egg, and 150g of active sourdough starter.
Step 3. In a large bowl, mix together 450 grams of bread flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Mix well to make sure that all of these dry ingredients are well incorporated.
Step 4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix until it comes together in a shaggy dough. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 hour (autolyse).
Step 5. Soak the 90g of craisins in warm water while your dough is in the autolyse cycle. Drain after the hour.
Step 6. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sea salt and the hydrated craisins over the dough. Wet your hands and and stretch and fold your dough until the salt and craisins are well incorporated (6-8 folds). Cover and let sit for an hour.
Step 7. Stretch and fold (3-4 rotations) three more times for a total of 4 stretch and fold cycles- being sure to cover in between stretch and fold cycles.
Step 8. Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into twelve equal (ish) sized pieces. Form them into buns by folding the corners into the center and then roll the seam between one palm and the side of the other palm to create surface tension and a nice tight roll. Transfer to a parchment lined 9×13 dish.
Step 9. Cover the sourdough hot cross buns and allow them to rise until they have almost doubled in size (bulk fermentation) and have filled your casserole dish ~ 3-4 hours in a warm spot.
Step 10. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat a large egg and brush it overtop the buns.
Step 11. Mix up 50g of flour and 50g of water in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Transfer the paste into a piping bag or ziplock bag and snip off the end. Pipe the crosses onto your buns.
Step 12. Bake the sourdough buns for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Step 13. Mix 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar with 3 tablespoons of cranberry juice OR orange juice and 1 tablespoon of orange zest as best you can. Brush the glaze overtop of the freshly baked sourdough buns. Optional: Sprinkle a little bit of candied orange peel overtop of the buns to make them even more beautiful!
- 9pm: Feed the starter, cover, and leave overnight.
- 7am: Mix the ingredients for the dough autolyse. Soak the craisins.
- 8am: fold in the salt + water mixture and strained craisins for 6-8 stretch and fold rotations (second rise)
- 9am: Stretch and fold (3-4 rotations) every hour until noon.
- 12pm: Divide the dough out into 12 equal portions. Shape the buns as you normally would, cover, and let rise for 3-4 hours (bulk fermentation) or until they have almost doubled and filled in the casserole dish.
- 4pm: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the buns with whisked egg. Mix the paste for your crosses, pipe the crosses onto your sourdough hot cross buns, place in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Prepare the orange-sugar glaze.
- 5pm: Once cooked, remove the buns from your dish and cool them on a drying rack. Brush the hot cross buns with cranberry glaze. Enjoy!
Batch and Storage:
Yield: This recipe will fill a 9×13 casserole dish with twelve hot cross buns.
Storage: These buns are delicious warm from the oven and freshly covered in glaze. They will stay moist for 3-4 days on the counter in an airtight container or bag. If they start to dry out, they are delicious toasted or in your favourite bread pudding recipe.
Printable Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Recipe Card
- 60g flour
- 60g starter
- 60g filtered water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 150 grams active sourdough starter
- 1/3 cup softened butter
- 450 grams all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup flour
- 6 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons orange juice OR cranberry juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Feed your starter late the night before you plan on baking your sourdough hot cross buns. Feed by weight 60g starter, 60g flour, 60g filtered water. Make sure that your container is large enough for the starter to grow more than double overnight or you will end up with a sticky mess. In the morning you should have about 180g of active starter- leaving you about 30g of discard.
- First thing in the morning, mix together 1 cup of room temperature milk, 1 large egg, and 150g of active sourdough starter and 1/3 cup softened butter.
- In a large bowl, mix together 450 grams of flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of allspice. Mix well to make sure that all of these dry ingredients are well incorporated.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix until it comes together in a shaggy dough. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 hour (autolyse).
- Soak the 90g of craisins in warm water while your dough is in the autolyse cycle. Drain after the hour.
- Sprinkle salt and hydrated craisins over the dough. With wet hands, stretch and fold (6-8 folds). Cover and let sit for an hour.
- Stretch and fold (3-4 rotations) three more times for a total of 4 stretch and fold cycles- being sure to cover in between stretch and fold cycles.
- Scoop the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into twelve equal (ish) sized pieces. Form the buns and transfer to a parchment lined 9×13 dish.
- Cover the sourdough hot cross buns for the bulk ferment and allow them to rise until they have almost doubled in size and filled your casserole dish. (3-4 hours in a warm spot)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat a large egg and brush it overtop the buns. Mix and pipe the crosses onto the buns.
- Bake the sourdough buns for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Mix 4 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of orange juice OR cranberry juice and brush over the warm buns... Enjoy!
Make sure ingredients are room temperature for faster rising times!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 313Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 227mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 2gSugar: 16gProtein: 8g
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