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  • Writer's pictureTania

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns!

Have you been wondering what else you can make with your sourdough starter? Try these delicious and moist hot cross buns - minimal hands-on time required.

If you've been struggling to find yeast in the supermarket lately, you're not alone.

Shopping habits have changed significantly since the arrival of COVID-19 to our shores, and many of the staples we take for granted seemed to be snapped up from the shelves as soon as they are re-stocked. Yeast is one of those things I just haven't seen at all over the last two weeks; and as for flour, you've got to be pretty quick to grab yourself a bag when you see it! I really hope that all the flour that's been bought is being put to good use...

One way to ensure you can make your own bread without the requirement for commercial yeast is to make your own sourdough starter. It takes a little over a week, but with minimal care, a starter can live for years. Once you have your starter, you are free to crank out delicious sourdough loaves on a regular basis. I admit I haven't been that adventurous with my loaf ingredients, but I did go hunting recently for some other baked products I could use my starter for.

What better than Hot Cross buns at this time of year?

This recipe is slightly adjusted from the one I found on the Farmhouse Kitchen website, and it made 15 buns.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

1 & 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons honey

50 grams butter

3 & 1/2 cups white flour

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 cup of active sourdough starter*

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 cup raisins or sultanas

1 cup currants

1 cup finely diced apple

For the crosses:

1/2 cup flour

enough water to make a dough the right consistency for piping

For the glaze:

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons boiling water

Put the milk, honey and butter in a small saucepan, and heat until butter has just melted. Take off heat and put aside.

Mix flours, spices and fruit in a large bowl, and make a well in the centre.

Add the milk mixture (ensuring it's not too hot - just above blood temperature is ideal) and the sourdough starter, and mix as well as you can with a large spoon. Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the bench, and get your hands into the bowl to bring the dough into a ball. Turn out onto the bench, and knead until well mixed.

Get another large bowl, rub a little cooking oil around the inside, and pop the dough ball in. Cover with a dinner plate and put somewhere warm (on the floor in front of a sunny window works well) until the dough has doubled in size. This might take a couple of hours, depending on the warmth of the day.

Turn dough out onto the floured bench, knead a little more, then shape into buns. Each bun will weigh around 110 grams - I find it handy to have my scales on the bench, so I can get all the buns around the same weight. Place the buns onto an oven tray lined with baking paper, cover with a clean tea towel, and put back into your sunny spot, leaving them to rise until they are almost doubled in size again.

Pre-heat your oven to 200℃ bake (not fan bake), and place a shallow oven-proof dish 3/4 full of water on the very bottom shelf of the oven (this creates a steamy oven for the best cooking results). Mix the cross ingredients in a small bowl. If you have an icing piping set, use a small nozzle to pipe the crosses on the buns. If you don't, you can use a small press-seal bag, and once you have spooned the mixture in and sealed the top, snip off a corner with scissors and use this as a piping bag.

Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes in the lower half of the oven, or until they go a rich golden colour on the top. Dissolve the honey in the boiling water, and brush the glaze on the buns soon after you remove them from the oven.

Enjoy sliced and spread with butter fresh out of the oven!

* if you don't have a sourdough starter, they are easy to make. These instructions are from Megan Rossi's book "Eat yourself healthy":

Sourdough starter

Day 1:

Put 1/4 cup high grade flour into a 400mL capacity glass jar, and add 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Stir well, cover with the jar lid or a muslin cloth secured with a rubber band, and leave on the bench over night (ideally in around 20-24℃).

Day 2:

In the morning, stir mixture and cover again. In the evening, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the mixture, then add another 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Stir, cover and leave on the bench overnight.

Days 3-7:

Repeat all the steps from day 2.

Day 8:

Stir the mixture in the morning - this should be around 1/4 to 1/3 cup of starter. Around midday, weigh the starter and put into a medium-sized bowl. Add equal weight of flour and lukewarm water, mix thoroughly, cover and leave on the bench overnight.

Day 9 - baking day!

The starter should yield around 300 grams to bake with, and 1/4 cup to maintain your starter.

Starter maintenance: weigh your 1/4 cup of starter, put into your 400mL capacity jar again, and add equal weight flour and lukewarm water. Mix, leave on the bench for 2 hours until bubbly, then cover and place in the fridge.

The day before you want to make some bread, remove the starter from the fridge, and follow the steps from day 8. There may be a layer of dried, slightly darker-looking flour on the top of your starter; that's fine, just lift it off with a spoon and discard it before mixing in the flour and water.

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