baking/ make your own/ morning tea + afternoon tea/ traditions and rituals

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with an easy apricot and cardamom glaze

A batch of fresh sourdough hot cross buns for morning tea

It’s hot cross bun time again! This year I have a Sourdough Hot Cross bun recipe for you – complete with a super tasty and super easy apricot and cardamom glaze so you can have a delicious Easter at home. Or, leave the crosses off and have delicious glazed, sourdough fruit buns anytime you like!

One of our favourite things to do on the weekend, when we can, is to ride our bikes to one of a handful of local bakeries and grab ourselves a treat. We’re very lucky to have a few excellent bakeries within easy riding distance of our house; the hardest part is choosing which one to visit. Each bakery has its own specialties that keep luring us back – whether that’s super crispy almond croissants and the most excellent baguettes, or juicy cakes sold by the slice so we can grab a few different pieces to share. Add in a cup of coffee and a visit to the local dog park to check out some cute pooches and life feels very sweet.

That’s not to say that life at home can’t be tasty; with a little effort it sure can. But the luxury of a weekend morning out is something we treasure now more than ever. 

A dozen sourdough hot cross buns
A batch of sourdough hot cross buns with fruit and apricot glaze

One of the many things this past year has taught me is how to make pretty decent sourdough. When we couldn’t go out for our little weekend pick-me-up, we made our own and brought the bakery vibes home. 

We attempted croissants, which brought us joy in the eating even though they wouldn’t win any beauty prizes. We got pretty great at  sourdough crumpets and delicious fruit bread, and made jellies and marmalades to go on top. We set up a little table in the backyard and learnt how to make the perfect latte or chai and babyccino to enjoy in the garden, missing a cute pooch or two, but with chickens for entertainment instead.

And I finally learnt how to make sourdough fit into the week without too much thought, for that fresh from the bakery feeling all week long.

Morning tea of hot cross buns with apricot glaze and earl grey tea

This year we are making our own Sourdough Hot Cross Buns, with a few touches that make them extra special! Tea soaked fruit and a spoon of marmalade get mixed through the dough, and an easy technique called tangzhong helps keep the buns feeling fresher to enjoy without toasting (if that is your preference, although I would never say no to mine being toasted) on day two, or even three.

Finishing the buns with an easy apricot and cardamom glaze brings elements from a few of our favourite bakery items together in one delicious, fruit filled bun.

Pass the buns, it’s time to bring the bakery home.

Hot cross bun fresh spread with butter, apricot glaze and a cup of tea

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with an easy apricot and cardamom glaze

For this hot cross bun recipe, I use 100% hydration starter – which basically just means when you feed your starter, feed it equal parts flour and water – this is the way I always feed my sourdough starter.

Feed your starter in the morning (to create a levain or preferment) and it will be ready to be used in the bun dough in the afternoon. I have included generous measurements for feeding the starter so you will have a little left over to keep, and feed, for your ongoing sourdough adventures.

I’ve used stoneground wholegrain bread flour for the buns, the same one I use to make our regular sourdough bread, but you could also use plain all-purpose flour if you like – you may need a little less liquid or a little more flour in the final dough if using plain flour as wholegrain flour tends to absorb more liquid.

Never fear, if your dough feels too sticky or wet just dust in a little more flour to make it more manageable. Trust your baking instincts, this is the way we all learn.

There are a few steps to this recipe for these sourdough hot cross buns but trust me, you will be fine! Each individual step is quite quick and achievable; even though reading it all together can seem like a lot! Just remember to feed your starter in the morning, then in the afternoon you will mix the bun dough together. The following morning you will shape the buns and allow them to rest for a few hours, before popping on the crosses and baking!

Even though sourdough takes time overall most of it is hands off, so as long as you can find a few minutes in the morning, and another little patch in the afternoon you can have delicious, fresh hot cross buns the following day!

Call me crazy, but I have shaped these hot cross buns on a school morning, rolling them quickly first thing before making lunchboxes for the day and baking them after returning home from school drop-off; it’s do-able and makes for a very happy after school treat! Make them on the weekend if you enjoy a more relaxed pace, and you can all enjoy them warm and fresh from the oven for morning tea.

For the sourdough starter, levain or preferment:

A tablespoon or two of mature sourdough starter
180g lukewarm water
180g flour

For the hot cross buns:

150g currants
100g sultanas
250ml hot earl grey tea, or your favourite tea

25g flour
100ml milk

60g butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon orange marmalade, or the zest of 2 oranges, or a little candied orange peel if you have some on hand

100ml milk
2 eggs
550g flour
100g coconut sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
300g sourdough starter

For the crosses:

4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon (5g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/3 cup (80ml) water

For the apricot and cardamom glaze:

2 – 3 tablespoons apricot jam
one shake of ground cardamom (just a tiny pinch! or a little less than 1/8 teaspoon)


For the sourdough starter, levain or preferment:

The morning before you would like to eat hot cross buns, feed your sourdough starter and set it somewhere warm (or at least not too cold) to grow throughout the day. You will continue to make and shape the buns later on in the afternoon, before resting them in the refrigerator overnight to be baked the following day.

For the buns:

In a small bowl, soak the currants and sultanas in the hot tea. Set aside until the tea has cooled and the fruit has plumped a little. Keep both the plumped fruit and the tea.

Next, make the tangzhong. Place the 25g flour and 100ml milk In a small saucepan over medium/high heat and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to the texture of a béchamel sauce, or thick custard. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once it is melted, turn off the heat and stir through the marmalade, if using.

Whisk together the additional 100ml milk and the two eggs in a small bowl or mug.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and spices, before adding in the sourdough starter, tangzhong, melted butter and marmalade, and milk and egg mixture and mix well. Add the soaked fruit and any remaining tea into the dough and knead in the bowl until it is well mixed and there are no dry patches – it will be a sticky dough! If you think the dough feels too wet, now would be a great time to add a little extra flour and knead it in briefly. Repeat if necessary, adding a little flour at a time until the dough feels soft and sticky and you can bring it all together.

Place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Place the bowl into the fridge and leave overnight.


The following morning, remove the dough from the fridge and cut into 12 equal pieces. The dough will still be a little sticky and not very stretchy, so just gently stretch each edge of the piece of dough and bring it back into the centre; repeat the whole way round then flip the vaguely ball shaped piece of dough over so all the tucked ends are on the under side. Perfectly imperfect is a-okay.

Using your hands in a cupped shape, drag each ball of dough across the bench to help tighten the surface and make it more round (this is a great video to show you how!) and set onto a paper lined baking tray, leaving a little room between each ball. Cover again with the damp tea towel and allow to rise at room temperature for around 2 hours – if your house feels cold, you can turn your oven on to the lowest setting for 5 minutes while you roll the buns, then turn the oven off and pop the buns in the turned off oven to prove. Just remember to take the buns out of the oven before you turn it on to preheat for the final bake!

The buns should have visibly grown after 2 hours, and will continue to grow even more when you bake them in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7.

For the crosses:

If you would like to pipe crosses on your buns, mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth; it should be the consistency of thick royal icing or greek yoghurt – add a little more flour or a little more water if you need to adjust the consistency.

Pour the mixture into a small piping bag, or baking paper cone or zip lock bag with the corner cut off, and pipe lines across the buns if you want to make crosses, or get creative and try pipe what you feel.

Place the buns into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6 and bake for another 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.

For the apricot and cardamom glaze:

Heat the apricot jam and ground cardamom in a small saucepan over medium heat until the jam has loosened. Brush the top of the buns with the jam, then return to the oven for another 2 minutes.

Remove the glazed buns from the oven and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with an apricot and cardamom glaze

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Baking
By Amber Rossouw Serves: 12
Prep Time: 40 - 45 minutes split over two days Cooking Time: 35 minutes Total Time: 2 days

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with an apricot and cardamom glaze

Ingredients

  • For the sourdough starter, levain or preferment
  • A tablespoon or two of mature sourdough starter
  • 180g lukewarm water
  • 180g flour
  • For the buns
  • 150g currants
  • 100g sultanas
  • 250ml hot earl grey tea, or your favourite tea
  • 25g flour
  • 100ml milk
  • 60g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade, or the zest of 2 oranges, or a little candied orange peel if you have some on hand100ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 550g flour
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 300g sourdough starter
  • For the crosses
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water
  • For the apricot and cardamom glaze
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons apricot jam
  • one shake of ground cardamom (just a tiny pinch! or a little less than 1/8 teaspoon)

Instructions

For the sourdough starter, levain or preferment

1

The morning before you would like to eat hot cross buns, feed your sourdough starter and set it somewhere warm (or at least not too cold) to grow throughout the day. You will continue to make and shape the buns later on in the afternoon, before resting them in the refrigerator overnight to be baked the following day.

For the buns

2

In a small bowl, soak the currants and sultanas in the hot tea. Set aside until the tea has cooled and the fruit has plumped a little. Keep both the plumped fruit and the tea.

3

Next, make the tangzhong. Place the 25g flour and 100ml milk In a small saucepan over medium/high heat and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to the texture of a béchamel sauce, or thick custard. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

4

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once it is melted, turn off the heat and stir through the marmalade, if using.

5

Whisk together the additional 100ml milk and the two eggs in a small bowl or mug.

6

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and spices, before adding in the sourdough starter, tangzhong, melted butter and marmalade, and milk and egg mixture and mix well. Add the soaked fruit and any remaining tea into the dough and knead in the bowl until it is well mixed and there are no dry patches – it will be a sticky dough! If you think the dough feels too wet, now would be a great time to add a little extra flour and knead it in briefly. Repeat if necessary, adding a little flour at a time until the dough feels soft and sticky and you can bring it all together.

7

Place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Place the bowl into the fridge and leave overnight.

8

The following morning, remove the dough from the fridge and cut into 12 equal pieces. The dough will still be a little sticky and not very stretchy, so gently stretch each edge of the piece of dough and bring it back into the centre; repeat the whole way round then flip the vaguely ball shaped piece of dough over so all the tucked ends are on the under side. Perfectly imperfect is a-okay.

9

Using your hands in a cupped shape, drag each ball of dough across the bench to help tighten the surface and make it more round (this is a great video to show you how!) and set onto a paper lined baking tray, leaving a little room between each ball. Cover again with the damp tea towel and allow to rise at room temperature for around 2 hours – if your house feels cold, you can turn your oven on to the lowest setting for 5 minutes while you roll the buns, then turn the oven off and pop the buns in the turned off oven to prove. Just remember to take the buns out of the oven before you turn it on to preheat for the final bake!

10

The buns should have visibly grown after 2 hours, and will continue to grow even more when you bake them in the oven.

11

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7.

For the crosses

12

If you would like to pipe crosses on your buns, mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth; it should be the consistency of thick royal icing or greek yoghurt – add a little more flour or a little more water if you need to adjust the consistency.

13

Pour the mixture into a small piping bag, or baking paper cone or zip lock bag with the corner cut off, and pipe lines across the buns if you want to make crosses, or get creative and try pipe what you feel.

14

Place the buns into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6 and bake for another 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.

For the apricot and cardamom glaze

15

Heat the apricot jam and ground cardamom in a small saucepan over medium heat until the jam has loosened. Brush the top of the buns with the jam, then return to the oven for another 2 minutes.

16

Remove the glazed buns from the oven and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.