You must make these! I am sharing the recipe today so you have plenty of time to make a sourdough starter before Easter (it only takes 3 – 5 days and you ready to bake!) – or you can also use dried yeast. They are seriously the best hot cross buns I have ever eaten. Perfectly spiced, moist and sweet from the pumpkin, and complimented with a hint of sourdough to complete the palette experience.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN
I love mastering a technique, particularly if it involves filling our tummies with something nourishing and delicious. I have been making sourdough bread for many years now, however, branching out beyond bread has always felt a bit daunting. This possibly relates back to my chef training days when I seriously failed the bun making module (not once but three times!). Of-course this was using commercial yeast, and now I know me and yeast were just never meant to be! But wild yeast is a complete other story. I love tending to my little jar of sourdough starter sitting on the kitchen bench. Learning its rhythms – watching it take a long slow in-breathe (rise) after each feed and then exhale (deflate) just as slowly.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN
Although it takes over 24 hours from start to finish to make these hot cross buns, most of the time is completely unattended. The slow low-temp rise of the dough converts the starch and proteins (gluten) so they are easier to digest and more nutritious. Since making my own sourdough bread my ability to digest wheat and gluten has improved considerably so long as I use a slow-rise for at least 12 hours. And I always source good quality flour such as spelt or NZ-grown wheat and rye (find my pantry list and suppliers HERE). I am still in awe of the magic that happens with the simple combination of flour and water. Now to the recipe…
P.S. If you make these hot cross buns I would love to see, please share them with me on ​Facebook or ​Instagram @homegrownkitchen. Happy Baking!
  Sourdough Hot Cross Buns | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with Roasted Pumpkin

You need to plan ahead if you want to make these for Easter Sunday. Start the process on Saturday morning to bake the buns late Sunday morning. You will notice the ingredients are mostly in gram amounts, I have learned (from experience) when it comes to bread baking this will give the most consistent results. Digital scales work best and keep within 2g of the ingredient weight. Another handy and very affordable piece of equipment is a dough scraper for folding the dough and cutting without severing the gluten.


Production starter

100g white spelt flour or white flour

100g filtered water

1 tablespoon sourdough starter (or 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast)

Dry ingredients

320g white spelt flour or organic white flour

5 g unrefined salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

pinch of nutmeg

100g raisins or sultanas

Wet ingredients

150g milk

30g butter

200g mashed roasted pumpkin (see note below)

melted butter for brushing


  • Make the production starter in the morning of the first day (Saturday morning). Cover with a bowl cover or plastic bag and leave to ferment for 12 hours - after this time the starter will have visible bubbles and roughly double in size.
  • In the early evening around 6 - 7pm make the dough. First weigh the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Use a whisk to combine and aerate.
  • Put the milk and butter into a saucepan and gently heat until the butter is melted. Don't boil, just warm the milk. Remove from the heat add the pumpkin flesh, mashing with a fork to combine or use a stick blender to purée. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients along with the production starter. Use a dough scraper or spatula to mix for 2 minutes to thoroughly incorporate the ingredients. The dough will feel a little sticky at this stage but it shouldn't feel wet. However, as pumpkin moisture content can vary if the dough feels very sticky and wet add 20g extra flour and mix well to combine.
  • Cover the bowl with a plastic bag so the dough doesn't dry out and leave to rise at room temperature (if it is cool in your kitchen then place the bowl somewhere warm) for 3 hours. Before bed place the bowl in the fridge and leave to rise for 10 - 12 hours.
  • In the morning (7 - 8am) remove the dough from the fridge and tip onto a bench - resist the urge to add extra flour, the cold risen dough should be reasonable easy to handle. Knead half a dozen times to develop the gluten for the final rise. Next use a dough scraper or 'blunt' butter knife to cut into 12 even sized pieces. Use your fingers to gently fold the cut edges under to make a rounded bun shape. Place the buns on a lined baking tray with 1cm space between each. Cover with a plastic bag and set aside to rise for 2 - 4 hours (how long they take to rise depends on the temperature of your kitchen). Once the buns are just touching and visibly risen they are ready to bake.
  • Preheat the oven to 220C. Place the buns into the hot oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 200C. Bake for 30 minutes until golden. Check after 20 minutes and if the buns are getting nicely brown on top cover with a sheet of baking paper so they don't brown further. Remove from the oven and cool on cake rack, brush with melted butter or ghee to give the buns a nice shine. Best eaten warm from the oven with a thick spread of butter - they are also lovely toasted the next day.


To make the crosses combine 3 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons water, spoon into a ziplock bag and cut a small hole (approx 2mm) in one of the corners. Twist the bag and slowly squeeze out the paste onto the buns to make crosses. Roast Pumpkin - when roasting pumpkin for dinner I often bake extra for adding to baking. I slice the pumpkin into wedges - leaving the skin on as this is easy to peel off once cooked. Brush with a little ghee or coconut oil and season lightly with salt. Roast for 30 minutes at 190C until tender, flipping the pumpkin wedges after 15 minutes for even cooking. Cool then remove the skin and mash or puree.


  • nzecochick
    2 years ago

    These sounds amazing!! I am so going to make them this weekend!! M x

    • 2 years ago

      You must make them Madeliene! I have made them several times now and they are inhaled the moment they are cool enough to hold. Please show me if you do, I would love to see xx

  • Trevor
    2 years ago

    Unfortunately I am very gluten free 🙁
    Could these be adapted to use GF grains without ruining the magic? 🙂

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Trevor, I haven’t tried so I can’t guarantee they would work. You would need to use a mix of flours including some light flour like tapioca or arrowroot to lighten the dough. I would also imagine the flour quantity would need to be reduced a little or add 1 egg to the mix for extra binding. Let me know if you have any luck! Sorry I can’t be more exact.

  • Lila
    2 years ago

    I make your sourdough bread and love it, so I have the starter, but I’m gluten free – do you think I could try these Easter buns with brown rice and buckwheat flour?? Easter buns is about the only thing I’ve missed since going gf!

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Lila. sorry I haven’t tried making these with gluten-free flour. You could try with these flours plus some tapioca flour to lighten the mix and add an egg for binding. Just keep an eye on the moisture level if adding egg. Let me know how you go and I can add a note to the recipe if they are a success!

  • Anna
    2 years ago

    Hi Nicola, I already have a sourdough starter which I use for making bread (I made the starter using your recipe). If I use this for making the hot cross buns, (instead of making the starter in the hot cross buns recipe) how much would I need to use?

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Anna, you could use 200g bubbly active starter, however, making the production starter insures the bread rises in the time specified in the recipe so it could be slower using all starter but I am sure it will still work fine. Let me know how you go…

  • Angie
    2 years ago

    Hi Nicola, I’m going camping over Easter. Could I make these and freeze the dough and then bake them in the camp kitchen?

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Angie, Oh gosh I am really not sure as I haven’t tried freezing this dough. Yeast dough you can certainly do this with but I would be concerned the sourdough would become dormant. You could keep it chilled for up to 48 hours and then make the buns and bake in a camp oven but again I haven’t tried this so can’t guarantee success 🙂

  • Kim
    2 years ago

    Could you double this recipe easily? Going to start these tomorrow have heaps of visitors over Easter!

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Kim, yes you can double or even triple the recipe as needed. Enjoy!

  • Linda
    1 year ago

    Hi Nicola, I made these buns last year and they were delicious. I used my bread maker which made them even easier. I’d like to make them for a vegan friend this year. Can you suggest a vegan replacements for the milk and butter?
    Thanks, Linda

    • 1 year ago

      Hi Linda, I am looking forward to making these again in the coming weeks! I haven’t tried making these vegan so not sure how they would work. You could try using a plant-based milk and coconut oil in place of the butter and see how you go. It is only a small amount of butter so should be fine but make sure to use a milk that isn’t too sweet or strong tasting as it could overpower the other flavours. Good luck!

  • Isabelle
    4 weeks ago

    Oh no! Ive just made a mistake making these! I wanted to double the recipe but as im making the dough this evening, Ive realised I forgot top double the production starter! What to do? I’m guessing you wont be able to respond on time but i thought id try you! This is the second time i am making this btw, trying to tweak it slightly as i go for our sugar free household and find just the right balance… i loved it the first time around – and i hope this time will be delicious too even with my little hiccup! Cheers, isabelle

    • 4 weeks ago

      Hi Isabelle, sorry I didn’t see this until this morning. You could have added dried yeast to assist the rise or leave them longer at room temperature. It is a bit tricky when the starter quantity is reduced as timing will be effected and the flour/water ratio. I hope they turned out alright. Thanks for the letting me know the first batch were a success!
      Enjoy, Nicola

      • Isabelle
        4 weeks ago

        Hi Nicola, this batch was a success too! That’s what i figured i should do… I left it out at room temperature longer than the recipe says. And i added a bit more liquid to my milk/purée mix. Turned out fine! Thanks again 🙂

        • 4 weeks ago

          Great to hear they worked for you, it is always a little trickier when doubling recipes 🙂

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