15 March, 2016
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 4 – 5 days and you are ready to bake!) – or you can also use dried yeast, see the recipe. They are seriously the best hot cross buns I have ever eaten. Perfectly spiced, moist and sweet from the pumpkin, and complemented with a hint of sourdough to complete the palette experience.
Sourdough Pro Tip
When making a heavier dough like this it is essential that the starter is VERY bubbly before use – at least double in size after a feed within 4-6 hours. Plus you want the (lactic) acid load of the starter to be very low – if your starter smells sour then you won’t get a good rise in a sweet heavy dough like this. Much to popular belief a healthy starter won’t smell very sour, more sweet and yeasty. This recipe is different from when making bread dough where there is more leeway due to higher moisture/water which will naturally speed up the yeast activity.
Timing with sourdough is always suggestive and if it is a cool day then the rise time may be longer (for both the pre-rise and bun rise). Go with the look of the dough over timing (take a photo when they are first rolled to compare). And when the risen buns are gently prodded they should slowly bounce back. The most important thing is to make sure the starter is super active AND not too sour when making this type of naturally leavened dough. Plus keeping the starter and dough in a warm position while rising will make a big difference.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with Roasted Pumpkin
- 50 g bubbly sourdough starter
- 50 g white flour - spelt, standard or high grade
- 50 g water
- 320 g white flour - spelt, standard or high grade
- 5 g sea salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch of nutmeg
- 100 g raisins or sultanas
- 150 g milk
- 30 g butter
- 200 g mashed roasted pumpkin or kumara - see note below
- melted butter for brushing
- Make the production starter around mid-morning of the first day (Saturday morning). Cover with a plate and leave to ferment for about 6 hours - after this time the starter will have visible bubbles and at least doubled in size. *Or use 150g healthy bubbly starter from your sourdough starter jar (fed 6 hours prior).
- Once the starter is ready 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. During this time you can apply 1-2 sets of stretch and folds to the dough if you are inclined, but this is not essential. Before bed place the bowl into the fridge to retard the dough for 10 - 12 hours.
- In the morning (about 7 - 8am) remove the dough from the fridge and tip onto a bench - resist the urge to add extra flour, the cold risen dough will be 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 and then cup the dough with your hand and roll into a ball. Place the buns on a lined baking tray (approx. 20x25cm) seam side down with 1cm space between each. Cover with a plastic bag and set aside in a warm position to rise for 3 - 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 (200C fan bake). Make the crosses - see below. Place the buns into the hot oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 200C (180C fan bake). Bake for 25-30 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 a rack, brush with warm honey or maple syrup to give the buns a nice glaze. Best eaten warm from the oven with a thick spread of butter - and they are also lovely toasted the next day.
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.