Obviously, the best thing about Easter. Home made Hot cross buns.
Last year I did Dan Lepard’s recipe from The Guardian and this year, a friend urged me to try the Lily Vanilli recipe from Waitrose Kitchen. OK, I thought and then had the idea to make them with sourdough starter instead of using yeast. This obviously meant that the buns took a lot longer – I started yesterday late afternoon and they were out of the oven just before 11 this morning but the end result is rather wonderful. Very fruity (with figs, apricots and sultanas, no currants), subtly spiced (sultanas were meant to be soaked in brandy and spices, I used strong jasmine tea instead) and surprisingly light (as well as rye in the sourdough starter, I used wholemeal and white flours, recipe only uses white and I reduced the sugar). For the glaze, I used Dan Lepard’s sugar and mixed spice syrup rather than Lily’s brandy and apricot jam glaze.
There were 10 an hour ago and now there are 6 left. They are huge too… Here is my adapted recipe:
For the sponge:
350g strong white flour
A couple ladlefuls of sourdough starter (or rather ‘tip some out of the jar’, I never weigh the starter
100ml strong jasmine tea
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Zest of one orange
75g strong white flour
100g strong wholemeal flour
70g chopped dried apricots
70g chopped dried figs
75g butter, melted
1 egg (large)
50g plain flour
25g caster sugar
½ teaspoon mixed spice
Mix flour, milk and sourdough starter for the sponge into a wet dough and leave for 4-5 hours, covered. Pour jasmine tea over sultanas, spices and orange zest and leave to soak for the same length of time.
Strain the sultanas, discarding star anise and add sultanas to the dough. Add chopped apricots, figs, sugar, salt and the rest of the flours. Lightly beat the egg, add melted butter then add to the dough, mixing well to combine. Knead for ten minutes until soft and elastic then leave overnight, covered.
In the morning, deflate and briefly knead then divide into 10 balls. Place onto baking tray lined with baking parchment and leave for another 4-5 hours, covered until risen by half. I left mine for 4 and a half hours.
Preheat oven to 220C (fan assisted), mix the flour and water into a paste and pipe onto buns. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 200C and bake for another 10. Meanwhile, bring all the glaze ingredients to boil until thickened into a syrup consistency. Leave to cool a little before glazing. Leave to cool a little more before devouring.