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Flor's incredible sourdough hot cross buns are perfect for Easter

Causing sellout queues every time they launch, Flor's hot cross buns are a testament to the bakery's prowess. Beat the lines by trying your hand at making them at home

Flor hot cross buns

Makes 12

Preparation time 5 hours

Cooking time 20 minutes

Flor takes its baking seriously. Reaching notoriety for its sourdough, pastries and – notably – hot cross buns, firstly under Pam Yung and latterly by Helen Evans, the subsequent restaurant and pizzeria was recently closed to allow the team to fully focus on the baked goods. 

"Here at Flor, everything starts with the flour," Evans tells us. It makes sense – this recipe is no beginners' shortcut. It calls for four different types of flour alongside the addition of sourdough starter. "We aim to use heritage flours as often as we can; varieties such as Red Lammas and Miller’s Choice work perfectly in our pizza dough, a little einkorn gives our croissants a much more interesting flavour and Hen Gymro (‘Old Welsh’ wheat) is a constant feature in our house sourdough loaf," she continues. 

On sourcing the right flour, Evans says "Buy the tastiest and most sustainably produced flour you can find. Bakery Bits online occasionally stocks John Letts’s heritage ‘Lammas Fayre’ flours, and The Fresh Flour Company specialises in heritage varieties. Gilchesters Organics sells stoneground flour (including wholemeal spelt and rye) in domestic size bags too, available online, and you can also buy from Natoora. If you can’t get your hands on Red Lammas flour, spelt or rye, then simply substitute strong white flour, preferably stoneground." Other substitutions include dark brown soft sugar if you can't find barley malt syrup and dried yeast in lieu of fresh yeast – you'll need around half a 7g sachet. 

Packed full of warming spices, little nuggets of dried fruit and topped with a glossy, lip-smacking spiced syrup, these hot cross buns are just about as good as it gets. Flex those baking muscles and dive on in.

Ingredients

For the buns

  • 185g strong white flour
  • 185g red lammas flour
  • 81g spelt flour
  • 12g rye flour
  • 69g sourdough starter
  • 7g fresh yeast
  • 1 egg (room temp.)
  • 92g milk (room temp.)
  • 12g spice mix (see below)
  • 9g salt
  • 92g butter (room temp.)
  • 69g barley malt syrup
  • 92g currants
  • 92g raisins
  • 90g hot water for fruit
  • 16g candied orange
  • 3g fresh lemon zest

For the spice mix

  • 6g nutmeg
  • 1g black pepper
  • 3g cinnamon
  • 3g cloves
  • 3g ginger
  • 3g green cardamom

For the spiced syrup

  • 125g sugar
  • 100g water
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • 1⁄2 a cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove

Method

  1. Prepare the spice mix. First, blitz the black pepper, cloves and green cardamoms to a fine powder in a spice grinder, then add to freshly-grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground ginger.
  2. Next, prepare the fruit – pour the hot water over the currants and raisins and leave to steep for at least an hour (the dried fruit will re-hydrate and become plump and juicy). Chop the candied orange into small cubes and add this too, along with the fresh lemon zest.
  3. Combine the flours and the spice mix in the bowl of a KitchenAid-style mixer.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients (all except the butter) – egg, milk, barley malt syrup, sourdough starter and fresh yeast – tip into the bowl on top of the flour. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until the ingredients come together, then increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for a further 10-12 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then on medium speed, start adding the butter piece by piece. Once fully incorporated, the dough should look strong and shiny. Leave to rest for a further 2 minutes, then add the hydrated fruit. Mix again until just incorporated.
  5. Tip the dough out onto a moistened work surface and form into a neat ball, transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for at least four hours.
  6. After four hours the dough should have increased slightly in volume. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with white flour, then tip it carefully onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 100g pieces, then shape each piece into a neat ball.
  7. Arrange the balls of dough on a greaseproof-lined baking tray, approximately 1cm apart (as they proof, the buns will expand to touch each other on all sides). For two traditional half-dozen displays, arrange your buns three across by four down. Cover the tray with the tea towel again and leave for a further four hours.
  8. Prepare the cross mix – mix 75g of plain flour with around 100ml of cool water until it forms a paste. Transfer this paste to a piping/icing bag. Cut a small hole in the end of the piping bag and draw the crosses onto the top of each bun (pipe in one continuous motion horizontally across each row of three, then vertically down each column of four).
  9. Set your oven to 220°C and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Whilst the buns are cooking, prepare the spiced syrup. Boil the ingredients together and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Brush the hot buns generously with warm syrup as soon as they come out of the oven. As the dough is not overly sweet, the more syrup they soak up the better.
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