I always like to make hot cross buns at Easter, and this year because I’ve been making sourdough bread, I wanted to make a sourdough version. My regular recipe is from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Cookery and Household Management (my standard cooking reference) and uses regular bread yeast.
I had some trouble finding a sourdough recipe, partly because a lot of sourdough recipes use cup measurements and I prefer weights. And in some I didn’t really understand the timings. I had a bit of a hunt around online, and eventually found two recipes via a twitter search.
By an odd coincidence, I discovered that some of the blogs I’ve found since I started this one, also have links to Celia. That seems like karma! Out of all the tweets I could have stumbled on, I found hers… I’m still finding my way with sourdough, so I’ve loved reading through some of Celia’s old blog posts, and plan to give her overnight method a try regarding timings. Timings are one of my struggles: When do I have to start bread making to be able to finish at the time I want, without having to be up in the middle of the night?
The other sourdough problem I have is to do with the dough consistency. Lots of recipes say to avoid adding significantly more flour when kneading, and that the dough will become less sticky as you go. Not my experience. I haven’t been adding extra flour, but I end up with what can only really be described as glue. This is highly adhesive, and ends up entirely enveloping my hands, and stuck to the worktop. No photos – there’s no way I can get near a camera at these points. The bread always turns out ok, and rises, but I feel I’m not quite there! I wonder if it may have something to do with flour types, and / or starter hydration. Anyway, practice makes perfect.
I’m also delighted to say that my blogging buddy M-R has joined the sourdough community, despite protesting to me that she didn’t like it! Her first loaf (using, it transpires, a starter from Celia…) turned out pretty darned well! Read all about it here.
In the end, I kind of combined these two bun recipes above, with some inspiration from Mrs Beeton.
This sourdough lark always ends up taking longer than I expect, not least because of the amount of time I’m trying to remove glue-like dough from everything. The final day, when I baked the buns, took me about 3 ½ hours up the point of eating, and I ended up missing my intended elevenses / morning tea –time slot. If I wanted them to be done in time, I reckon I’d need to start 12 hours earlier (ie Thursday morning). I’d do everything up the point when the buns were shaped and on the baking sheet for their final rise, then put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning I’d take them out, allow about an hour to reach room temperature, and then bake.
So, here goes with the buns…
150g unfed sourdough starter (100% hydration, ie. fed at a ratio of 1g of water to 1g of flour). This will all be used, so make sure you leave some behind to continue your sourdough’s life!
75ml warm water
160g milk, at room temperature
500g bakers/bread flour – divided into 300g and 200g
8g fine sea salt
60g brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground pimento (allspice)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50g extra virgin olive oil (or 60g of softened butter)
2 large free range eggs
1 orange (optional)
50g good quality candied peel, finely diced
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons plain white flour
4 tablespoons water
24 hours before baking (eg Thursday morning)
- Take 150g of unfed starter (mine had been fed one week before, and stored in the fridge). All of this 150g of starter will be used, so leave some behind).
- Add 75g of flour and 75g of water.
- Mix together and leave covered at room temperature for 12 hours. (I cover with a plate or cling film. I tried using a cloth, but the surface dried out a bit.)
12 hours before baking (eg Thursday night)
- Mix together the 300g of starter, 160g milk (at room temperature), 300g of bread flour, 8g salt to make a sourdough sponge.
- Leave covered at room temperature for 12 hours.
- Place the currants and candied peel in a small bowl or wide mouthed jar.
- Add the juice of the orange (if using), and add enough warm water to cover the fruit by approximately 2cm. (I find this makes the fruit nice and plump in the finished buns.)
On the day of baking (eg Friday morning)
- Drain the orange juice / water from the dried fruit, and pat dry.
- Put 60g brown sugar, 50g extra virgin olive oil, and 2 eggs in a bowl and beat until light.
- Add the sourdough sponge and beat to combine.
- Combine the further 200g bread flour, 1tsp allspice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, then add to the sourdough sponge mixture from the previous step.
- Knead for 10 minutes, then set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
- Add the drained currants and candied peel mixture to the dough, and knead gently to combine (without squishing the fruit!)
- Leave in a covered bowl somewhere warm for 60 minutes. (Under the heat lamp in the bathroom works brilliantly on a cool day.)
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape as desired. (I needed to use a bit of flour to reduce stickiness at this point.)
- Place on a well-oiled baking sheet, and cover with a well-oiled piece of cling film. (If you don’t oil the cling film, it sticks to the buns and tears them when you pull it off. And then they deflate 😦 )
- Leave covered somewhere warm for 60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200degC (mine is fan forced).
- Get the glaze ingredients ready in a small saucepan.
- Make the cross mixture by combining 4 tbsp plain flour and 4 tbsp water. Put in a piping bag (you can make one out of baking paper or a plastic bag if you don’t have one.)
- Add the crosses to the risen buns, and place in the hot oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees to help them brown evenly, and bake for a further 8-10 minutes.
- When you’ve rotated the buns, make the glaze: heat the 2 tbsp milk, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp sugar in a pan on the stove. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes.
- Take the buns out of the oven. Remove to a cooling rack immediately if possible, and brush with the glaze.
- Allow to cool a little, if you’re able… Delicious enjoyed with butter, or a drizzle of fresh extra virgin olive oil! FFx