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Sourdough Hot Cross Buns with Kamut Wheat

Hot cross buns are spiced sweet breads with currants or raisins in them that make a delicious breakfast or teatime snack. Traditionally, they’re eaten around the holiday of Easter by Christians in the UK and countries that have had UK influence in past centuries. The crosses on the buns and the spices inside have religious significance related to the crucifixion of Jesus, and the dough has milk in it to mark the end of traditional dietary restrictions during Lent.

You don’t have to be celebrating Easter to enjoy these tasty buns though, and you can use different wheat varieties and sourdough leavening too. The recipe I developed here uses a standard 100% hydration sourdough starter and less refined sugar than most recipes. But the buns have a soft sweetness from fresh whole grain Kamut wheat flour, which also boosts the fermentation.

This hot cross bun dough had a 5-hour first rise and a 3-hour second rise (relatively short for enriched dough) due to the high percentage of starter, the high dough temperature from warmed milk, and the high ambient temperature due to being placed in my oven with the light on. See the gallery after the recipe for photos of the dough at the beginning and end of the bulk fermentation and final proof. This will give you a sense of the targeted dough consistency and expansion.

I used a combination of golden raisins and dried cranberries in my buns, but you can use the traditional currants only or branch out into something like candied orange peel, or no dried fruit at all. For the crosses, I went with the flour-water paste, but some people use sugar icing, shortcrust pastry, or even cuts in the dough. And finally, for the orange icing, I used the approach of Sally’s Baking Addiction, but in the past, I’ve simply warmed up orange marmelade until it’s more spreadable, and brushed it on the buns (also delicious and a bit faster).

Quick notes on wheat variety and yeast leavening: You can use a different whole grain wheat flour in this recipe if you want. Simply heat up about 30g less milk than is called for, and then add additional cold milk if needed to get the dough consistency you see in the photo gallery. And if you want to use instant yeast instead of sourdough leavening, add 100g all purpose flour and 100g water to the dough instead of the sourdough starter. Also add 2 tsp of instant yeast, and expect a 1-2 hour first rise and a 1-1.5 hour second rise.

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