These sweet fluffy sourdough spelt hot cross buns are studded with sweet mixed dried fried, cinnamon and orange zest. They are hearty sweet buns made with whole grain spelt flour and have traditional piped flour paste crosses baked into their tops. The buns are glazed with warm apricot jam to give them a shiny crust.
Sweet Sourdough spelt Buns
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 friend, 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. You may also want to try my super soft and fluffy edible flower sourdough hot cross buns made with a tanzhong which keeps them airy, light and squishy for longer storage.
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.
Enriched Sourdough or SWeet Sourdough
These buns are made with 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-virgin 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 wild yeast and microbes from doing their job. Anyway, the buns were pillowy soft and perfectly sweet.
I use a mix of bread flour and whole grain wheat flour, spelt flour or rye flour for my sourdough starter and feed it at 100% hydration, meaning equal amounts by weight of flour and water. Learn how to make your own starter from scratch with my easy homemade sourdough starter method.
Use recently fed and active starter for this recipe. 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 want to make bread.
Active Dry Yeast: Sourdough can be 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 note that the dough may take longer to rise.
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 liked a mix of currants and chopped medjool dates best. You can use any dried fruits you want like raisins, figs, apricots, candied citrus peel.
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.
Timing Sweet Sourdough Spelt Buns
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 whenever it is ready. If the process is going too fast for you and you want to slow it down, try the bulk fermentation stage in the fridge overnight.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Weigh the Ingredients: I always recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients when baking. It is the most accurate way to bake and ensures that you will get the correct results from any recipe.
Use a thermometer: Because all ovens are different it is always a good idea to use an oven thermometer so you know the true temperature of your oven. They are inexpensive and widely available.
More Delicious Easter Recipes
- Sourdough Brioche Easter Bunny Buns
- Violet Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Lemon Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Ricotta Pie (Torta di Ricotta) with Lemon and Honey
- Rösti with Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Salad
- Sumac and Herb Roast Chicken and Vegetables
- Vegan Spring Carrot Cake
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- 100 g active sourdough starter 100% hydration
- 100 g whole spelt flour about 1 scant cup
- 100 g cool water about 3 fl oz
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon orange zest or zest from 1 navel orange
- 160 g dried fruit a little over 1 cup, chopped if large
- 50 g all purpose flour about 3 tbs
- 50 mL water about 3 tbs
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon water
- 24 hours before baking start your sponge.
- Mix together equal amounts of sourdough starter, spelt flour and water in a jar or bowl and let sit for 12 hours until risen and bubbly. I like to do the in the morning for buns the next morning.
- Cover dough in bowl with a damp tea towel (or cellophane) and let rise and room temperature overnight. It should should be nearly doubled in size the next morning.
Add Dough Inclusions and Proof:
- Divide dough into 9 equal pieces and shape into balls.
- Arrange them so that they are touching on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a damp tea towel. Proof for 1 hour-they will puff up a bit (Note: I like to proof them in the oven turned off with the light on- makes it slightly warmer than room temp).
- Halfway through proofing preheat oven to 425˚F/220˚C (make sure remove buns from oven first).
- Pipe crosses over tops of buns.
- Bake at 425˚F/220˚C for 20-25 minutes until dark golden brown. You will smell them when they are ready and when tapped they will sound hollow.
- Yeasted breads like hot cross buns are best eaten the day they are made. To keep them fresh, store them in an airtight bag or container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
- For longer storage, slice the buns in half and freeze them in freezer bags. Warm them in a toaster or the oven before servings.