Ahhh, do you smell that? It's the smell of spring, the scent of traditions, wafting from the kitchen as delicious sweet and scrumptious hot cross buns bake in the oven. After seeing my friends, Kirsten and Mietta, make hot cross buns I wanted to give it a try. They were never part of my family's Easter traditions, my mom always made sweet roll bunnies, but hot cross buns always looked so dang good, I thought I'd give it a go this year. I'm all about the sourdough now, so of course I had to make these with my sourdough starter. It's a slower process but if you give yourself a day of planning it's well worth it. There's not a lot of work involved, just time to let the wild yeast do their fermentation thang. You start with a sponge 24 hours before you want to bake, so I usually do this the morning of the day before. Then the night before you mix the dough and bulk ferment overnight. And lastly the morning of you add the fruits and proof, then bake and glaze.
These buns are made from an enriched dough, meaning fat, protein and sugar are added. Also meaning it can make your sourdough go a little wacky and not cooperate with rising in a timely manner. So to remedy this I add a pinch of active dry yeast during bulk fermentation. It keeps those wild yeasties in line so to speak. After testing different milks, fats and sweeteners I settled on a combo of coconut milk, extra-virigin olive oil and honey. This gave the best results, texturally and flavor-wise. I tried coconut oil, but I think that because is it highly anti-bacterial it was blocking the lactobascilli from doing their job. Anyway, the buns were pillowy soft and perfectly sweet. Also, I get that honey is not technically vegan, and you can swap it for another sweetener, but the others can't compare to flavor honey produces in yeasted bread, imho. Just sayin...
I can't believe Spring officially starts tomorrow. (Yay!!!) We are actually due to get some snow. (F*ck!!!) I just roll with whatever mother nature wants to do now. But seriously, I wish you all a happy spring! Stay tuned for a post on our wooden egg natural dyeing adventures soon. And also a new video hopefully next week. I couldn't make a video happen for this recipe cuz taxes were on the agenda last week. (so glad that's over) Thanks for reading, watching, following, sharing and commenting and literally bringing smiles to this face every day. You guys are the best.
Recipe after the jump...
Sourdough Spelt Hot cross Buns
makes 9 buns
Sourdough starter: I use a mix of whole grain wheat flour, rye flour and spelt flour for my sourdough stater and keep it pretty loose. Using a mixture of flours allows me to use it for a variety of breads: whole grain sourdough boules, sourdough Danish rye or rugbrød, and enriched spelt dough like this recipe. To make my starter I added equal parts of the three flours and an equal (to the total amount of flour) part of water. Then I mixed them together vigorously to incorporate a lot of air. This was done in a quart size mason jar. I covered it loosely with a plastic screw top lid and let it sit out on the counter for 5 days or so until air bubbles form-this means the wild yeast are doing their magic and fermenting the mixture. Then I discarded most of the mixture and fed it with more flour and water, equal parts again. Your starter is ready to use when it bubbles up vigorously and when it passes the float test. Fill a glass with water and spoon a bit of starter into it. If the starter floats to the top it has enough air in it and is ready to use. I store my starter in the fridge and feed it once a week or when I go to make bread. There are many different ways to make, feed and store your starter. Try different methods and see what works best for you. My friend Emilie has a great beginner's sourdough guide on her blog if you want to learn more.
Measurements: I've listed measurements in metrics here because when working with bread dough, weighing ingredients is just much more accurate. If you don't have one, I strongly suggest investing in a digital kitchen scale. You can find very good ones for under $30 now.
Timing: The timing listed in the recipe is what worked in my kitchen in New England in March. So if you live in a warmer climate it might not take nearly as long for the sponge to bubble up or for the dough to rise during bulk fermentation. If this is the case, then watch your dough and move onto the next steps when ever it is ready. If then the process is going to fast for you and you want to slow it down, try the bulk fermentation stage in the fridge overnight.
Active Dry Yeast: Y'all, sourdough is a tricky little beast! Especially when you add fat, protein and sugar to it. So I found that a pinch of active dry yeast helps to keep the recipe consistent. If you're sourdough purest, by all means leave it out, but you've been warned...
Honey vs. Maple: I used honey in this recipe so it is technically not vegan, but you can replace it with maple syrup or sweetener of your choice. I just really love the flavor of honey in yeasted breads.
Dried Fruit: After trying different combos, I fell for a mix of currants and chopped medjool dates. You can use any dried fruits you want like raisins, figs, apricots, candied citrus peel. Get crazy if you want!
Orange zest: It's a traditional addition to hot cross buns, so I've included in the recipe, but I actually prefer them without the zest. Personal preference here.