Best Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Recipe - Home Grown Happiness (2024)

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Spiced, a little bit sweet, and a lot fluffy. These sourdough hot cross buns are a creative use for sourdough starter.

These fluffy sourdough fruit buns are one of my favorite sourdough recipes. They are something I look forward to each year. They can be filled with any dried fruit, though usually raisins are involved.

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They’re super soft and fluffy and filled with warming spices, and made without commercial yeast. Easter Good Friday is the usual time to make traditional hot cross buns. However, they are so good, that you might just want to make them all year round.


Find the ingredient amounts for these sourdough hot cross buns in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. For this sourdough hot cross buns recipe, you will need –

  • Strong all-purpose flour with a protein level of at least 11%
  • An active sourdough starter
  • Whole milk
  • Soft brown sugar
  • A large egg
  • Ground spices – cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. These spices give the dough so much flavor! Similar to sourdough cinnamon raisin bread.
  • Salt
  • Butter – slightly softened
  • Granulated sugar for the topping glaze.
  • The hot cross bun crosses are made of equal parts water and flour, but you can also use your sourdough discard starter!
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The dough

The dough in these sweet buns is an enriched one with egg and butter. It’s a sticky dough, which when kneaded well and proved correctly becomes super fluffy. It’s spiced with cinnamon, cloves,all-spice, ginger, and nutmeg.

There is also dried fruit and orange peel for texture and more flavor. If you’ve got a spare lemon, a bit of lemon zest is wonderful in there too!

I like using raisins, homemade dried apple pieces, cranberries, or whatever dried fruit I have. If you’re not a fan of fruit in your hot cross buns, try these sourdough chocolate chip hot cross buns instead!

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These delicious sourdough treats can be made with or without a mixer.

I used to knead the sourdough hot cross bun dough by hand, but this takes a lot of elbow grease. Simply stretching and folding the dough over itself is a much easier way to give it the strength it needs.

Whatever you do, don’t add more flour. After a while, you will feel the gluten develop and become smooth and elastic. It’s pretty cool to feel and see it happen before your eyes.

The flour

For the spiced dough, a strong all-purpose flour is used, one with a protein level of at least 11%. The protein amount in all-purpose flour changes depending on the brand, and so does the name of the flour. I use a strong all-purpose in many of my sourdough bread, like sourdough ciabatta and sourdough fougasse.

A bread flour with protein of around 12% could also be used for a chewier bun. I have not tried this with whole wheat flour.

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The starter

This sourdough hot cross buns recipe uses an active sourdough starter.

I feed my sourdough starter at a ratio of 1:3:3 (or even 1:4:4 if it’s going to be a warm night). This means a ratio of 1 part starter, 3 parts flour, and 3 parts water measured in grams.

This feeding amount means it will be ready to use within 8-10 hours, depending on the warmth of the room overnight. If I’m using it sooner, within say 6 hours, I would feed it 1:2:2.

If your starter is fairly young, it will help to keep it in a warm space overnight when feeding it at a higher ratio.

A 1:3:3 feeding example would be 25g starter, 75g flour, and 75g water. This makes approximately 175g starter, of which 150g will be used in the recipe.

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The method

Next morning

If you have a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, by all means, use that. However, it is possible to work the dough by using a simple method of stretching and folding.

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Heat the orange juice in a saucepan and pour it over raisins and orange zest.

Leave to sit for 20-30 minutes while the dough is kneaded.

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In a large mixing bowl, add flour, spices, eggs, milk, brown sugar, salt, and starter.

Use a fork to combine it into a shaggy dough first, then switch to using your hands.

Stretches and folds

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Add softened butter and the bowl of raisins, orange juice, and zest.

Use your hands to squish everything together until the butter is incorporated.

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Once the butter has been mixed in, transfer the sticky dough to a clean and lightly greased bowl.

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Over the next two hours, perform 4-5 sets of stretch and folds. One every 20 minutes or so.

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A stretch and fold method stretches one side of the dough and pulls it over itself.

Kneading in a mixer

If using a mixer, add the spices, flour, eggs, milk, sugar, salt, sourdough starter, raisins, and orange juice to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn the mixer on low speed to incorporate the ingredients, then turn it on to medium.

Mix on medium-high speed, and add a few butter cubes at a time. Mix for 8-10 minutes until it’s smooth and glossy.

When you lift the dough hook up, the entire dough should hold together without tearing, and you will be able to pull it off the hook in one smooth motion.

Bulk fermentation

Then the dough needs to be prooved in a greased bowl and covered bowl, in a warm spot for 4-5 hours, ideally at around 25°C/77°F. After this time the dough should bulk out by around 40-50%.

You can create a warm and humid spot for this bulk rise by placing the bowl in a turned-off oven alongside a large cup of boiled water.

After this, place the dough in the refrigerator in an airtight container.


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Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and cut it into 9 or 12 equal pieces.

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Dust your hands with flour if needed and form each piece into a ball, tucking the edges underneath to create a bit of surface tension.

Final proof

Place the dough balls into a baking paper-lined baking dish. Let them rise in a warm spot (ideally at 25°C/77°F) for 5-8 hours until doubled.

Alternatively, if your kitchen isn’t too warm you can let them rise overnight for 8-10 hours.

I fit mine in a smaller 23x23cm (9x9inch) square tray because I like them squished together, however you can use a larger tray.

Piping the traditional cross

Mix the flour paste for the crosses until it makes a thick but pipeable paste. You can also use sourdough discard starter as the paste.

Pipe crosses on the buns using a piping bag with a round tip.

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Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Place the buns in the oven and bake them for around 25-28 minutes until they are golden brown. There is no need for egg wash for these buns. They’ll be glazed in sugar syrup after baking.

While they are baking, mix together the sugar glaze ingredients. It’s a simple syrup made of hot water and sugar. When the hot cross buns come out of the oven, brush a pastry brush with the glaze.

Let them cool for 5-10 minutes before removing and cooling further on a wire rack.

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Serve the sourdough hot cross buns fresh, with a pat of butter.

Leftover sourdough hot cross buns can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to three days.

Alternatively, the baked buns can also be frozen for up to three months.

Related recipes

If you enjoyed these sourdough hot cross buns, you might like these recipes too!

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Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Yield: 9

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Proofing Time: 1 day

Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 5 minutes

Sweet and spiced hot cross buns buns leavened with sourdough starter.


Sourdough starter (makes approx 175g starter in total. 150g will be used in the recipe.)

  • 25g sourdough starter
  • 75g all-purpose flour
  • 75g water


  • 100g raisins or other dried fruit.
  • 60g orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange

Hot cross bun dough

  • 450g all-purpose or bread flour (with a protein level of at least 11%)
  • 75g soft brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 220g milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g active sourdough starter
  • 60g butter, room temperature, cubed.


  • 50g all-purpose flour
  • 50g water

Sugar Glaze

  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 45g boiled water


The night before

  1. Combine the starter ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Tip it into a clean jar. Leave it on the bench to rise and cover the jar with a tea towel or loosely balanced lid.

Day 1

  1. Add raisins and orange zest to a small bowl. Heat the orange juice and pour it over it. Leave these to sit and hydrate for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, spices, salt, eggs, milk, and sourdough starter in a large bowl. Use a fork to combine it into a shaggy dough.
  3. Add softened butter, raisins, orange juice, and zest. Use your hands to squish everything together until the butter is incorporated.
  4. Transfer the sticky dough to a clean, lightly greased bowl once the butter has been mixed in.

Stretch and folds*

  1. Perform 4-5 stretches and folds over the next two hours—one every 20 minutes.
  2. A stretch and fold method stretches one side of the dough and pulls it over itself. The bowl is then turned a quarter turn, repeated on the following side.Continue stretching, folding, and turning the bowl until all sides have been folded. You can do a few extra turns if needed. That is 'one set' of stretch and folds. (The dough can also be mixed in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 10 minutes.)
  3. After the dough has been kneaded, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm spot, ideally at around 77°F/25°C, until bulked out by about 50%.
  4. You can create a warm and humid spot for this bulk rise by placing the bowl in a turned-off oven alongside a large cup of boiled water.
  5. After this, place the dough in the refrigerator in an airtight container

Cold Proofing - Two Options

  1. Option 1- The dough can be refrigerated overnight after the bulk rise. The next morning, let the cold dough sit for 10 minutes at room temperature, then the buns can be shaped and rise until doubled, ideally at around 25°C/77°F. This can take between 4- 8 hours, depending on temperature. Bake them once they're doubled in size.
  2. Option 2 - The buns can rise overnight if your kitchen isn't too warm. Let the dough sit in the fridge for the rest of the day, then in the evening, remove it and shape the buns. Cover them with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let them rise overnight at room temperature for 8-10 hours. They can be baked fresh in the morning.

Shaping The Buns

  1. Pull the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured bench and cut it into 9 or 12 even-sized pieces. Dust your hands with flour if needed and shape the pieces into balls, tucking in the bottom to create a smooth top.
  2. Place the balls, seam side down, into a greased or parchment paper-lined dish, (I use a 23x23cm square, but you can also use a larger tray.) Let them rise until doubled.

Baking the Buns

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F.
  2. Mix the flour with enough water to make a thick paste, then add to a piping bag with a small round tip. Then pipe crosses over the buns.
  3. Place the buns into the oven and bake for 25-28 minutes until deep golden brown.
  4. While the buns are baking, mix the glaze ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Bush the hot bun tops with the sugar glaze once they come from the oven.
  5. Leave the buns to cool for about 20 minutes before eating.


* I used to hand knead the dough using a slap and fold method. This took around 10-15 minutes of kneading because it was such a sticky dough. Stretches and folds make things a lot easier.

Creating a warm space for rising - Place the bowl of dough in a turned-off oven, with a mug of boiled water next to it. This will create a warm and humid space. Replace the hot water as it cools down.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield: 9Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 320Total Fat: 6.3gSaturated Fat: 3.5gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 35mgCarbohydrates: 57.2gFiber: 2.3gSugar: 9.4gProtein: 8.1g

Best Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Recipe - Home Grown Happiness (2024)


Do you put jam on hot cross buns? ›

The sugar syrup for hot cross buns goes on after the buns have come out of the oven - it gives them a delicious shine. You could also use watered down apricot jam for your hot cross bun glaze.

Do you toast both sides of a hot cross bun? ›

Split the hot cross buns and toast them on each side, butter well. Put each bun toasted side up on a plate and spread with a little marmalade.

How old is the oldest hot cross bun? ›

A note with the historic bun says that it was baked on Good Friday 1807 in Colchester, Essex. Local historian Andrew Phillips has discovered a direct link which supports the claims on the bun's note, which makes it the oldest hot cross bun in the world.

Do you cut hot cross buns before heating? ›

To warm or toast, it's recommended to slice them in half, and if your toaster is wide enough, you can toast them that way. Alternatively, the buns can be warmed in the oven set at 180. c -350. f for 5-6 minutes or until nicely toasted.

Which day should you eat hot cross buns? ›

A hot cross bun is a spiced bun usually made with fruit, marked with a cross on the top, which has been traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India, Pakistan, Malta, United States and the Commonwealth Caribbean.

What to add to hot cross buns? ›

How do you eat yours? 6 new hot cross bun toppings to try
  1. Strawberry sundae. ...
  2. PBB: Peanut butter & banana. ...
  3. Cheesy melt. ...
  4. Tahini butter with pistachio. ...
  5. Cardamom cream. ...
  6. Maple butter.

Is it better to toast or microwave hot cross buns? ›

Microwaves are where hot cross buns go to die a merciless, miserable death. Toasting not only caramelises the sugars in the fruit, but it gives the bun flavour while trapping some moisture inside so you're not left with a dry rubbery mess.

Do the French eat hot cross buns? ›

The French don't do hot cross buns.

If you're in the Paris region, Marks and Spencer's is your saviour with a selection that included a version with chocolate chips instead of raisins for dried-fruit refuseniks. Best of all, they're often reduced in price because their existence confuses Parisians.

Can you eat a hot cross bun cold? ›

Can I eat hot cross buns hot or cold? It doesn't matter - eat them however you feel comfortable! We prefer ours sliced in half then toasted with a slather of butter melting on each slice.

Can Muslims eat hot cross buns? ›

Your hot cross buns are made entirely out of vegetable products so there's no need for anyone to pray over the batter while the baker stirs in currants and citrus peel. The stamp on the package simply signals to Muslims that it's okay to eat those buns — not that someone prayed over them.

Why were hot cross buns banned? ›

Spiced buns were banned when the English broke ties with the Catholic Church in the 16th century. However, by 1592, Queen Elizabeth I relented and granted permission for commercial bakers to produce the buns for funerals, Christmas, and Easter. Otherwise, they could be baked in homes.

What is the religious significance of hot cross buns? ›

They are symbolic of this significant day in the Christian faith when Jesus was crucified. Each bun is decorated with a cross made from flour paste, which represents the cross on which Christ died. The spices in hot cross buns are said to represent the spices that were used to embalm Christ after his death.

Why are my hot cross buns so heavy? ›

There could be a number of reasons why your hot cross buns turn out heavy or even hard. The most common reasons are as follows: Over kneading – this is more likely to happen if you use an electric mixer and dough hook. If you over knead dough it will break down the glutens and make the buns hard.

Can you eat hot cross buns without toasting them? ›

Toasting your HCB is the correct way. Microwaving your HCB is for psychos. While yes, they sort of resemble fruit toast, HCBs have embellishments that you don't find in fruit toast, e.g. the cross and the fancy glaze. Toasting gives a nice, firm, crunchy surface for optimal butter spreading.

Can you leave hot cross bun dough in fridge overnight? ›

To make this Easter extra special why not have a go at baking your own hot cross buns using our easy recipe? You can prepare the dough the night before and let it prove in the fridge overnight. Then just pop them in the oven in the morning for that irresistible just-baked taste!

How are hot cross buns traditionally eaten? ›

Toast them lightly and serve hot, slavered with good Irish butter. The ultimate Easter bun! There's even a school playground rhyme about Hot Cross Buns, sung while clapping in time to the rhythm of the words. A childhood favourite for generations.

What does a traditional hot cross bun contain? ›

They're yeasted sweet buns filled with spices and various fruits such as currants, raisins, and/or candied citrus. They're decorated with a white cross representing the crucifix, either marked right into the dough or etched on top with icing. Hot cross buns are a traditional Easter food, typically eaten on Good Friday.

How do you serve store bought hot cross buns? ›

They're perfect served toasted and buttered with a cup of tea during the build-up to Easter, but they also make a great base for hacky-yet-showstopping desserts.

Can you put clotted cream on hot cross buns? ›

Hot cross bun with clotted cream and blackcurrant jam

It's slightly better, especially since the blackcurrants provide some welcome texture along with a blast of acidity. If we had to eat hot cross buns with jam and cream, this is the one we'd choose.


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