Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

I’ve edited this 1960’s recipe to include sourdough.

The reason I chose a 1960’s recipe is because in 1960, butter was the main edible oil produced in the world, while palm oil represented just 1.26 million tonnes a year.  Palm oil was at the bottom of the league table in the world’s edible oil production under butter, soya, lard, tallow bean, olive, coconut and cottonseed. Now, in 2014, the production of palm oil outstrips even soyabean, with 45 million tonnes a year being produced, which is directly responsible for the demise of the orangutan’s habitat.  Palm oil is found in many commercially produced baked goods so this year don’t buy commercially mass produced hot cross buns – make your own with this simple 1960’s recipe.   They are far lovelier than any you can buy.

Of course, I couldn’t resist adding my own twist to this recipe so I mixed up a paste and added a cross and, after I baked them, I glazed my buns with golden syrup with a tbs of orange essence from Bakery Bits.

Slice, toast, butter and serve with a large pot of tea for a perfect Easter treat.

Slice, toast, butter and serve with a large pot of tea for a perfect Easter treat.

  • 1 3/4 lb organic flour
  • 1 oz fresh organic yeast
  • 4 oz fairtrade caster sugar
  • 3/4 pint milk or milk and water
  • 100g leftover sourdough starter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 4-6 oz currants
  • 2  oz chopped peel
  • 4 oz local butter
  • 2 free range eggs
  • Milk and fair-trade sugar to glaze

For the cross (my addition)

  • 3 oz plain flour
  • 3 tbs sunflower oil
  • 6 tbs water

Sieve 8 oz flour into a basin. Cream the yeast with 2 tsps sugar and stir in the milk and starter. Pour into the sieved flour and mix well, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place to set the sponge (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile sieve the remaining flour with the sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir in the currants and peel. Melt the butter and beat the eggs. When the mixture has well sponged, stir in all the dry ingredients, pour in the melted butter and eggs and mix thoroughly, beating with the hand.

Cover the basin with a cloth and put it aside in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or till the dough has almost doubled its size. Flour the hands, take small portions of dough, shape into buns, and put on a well-greased baking tin, spacing well. Cut a cross on top of each (and to make the cross mix the ingredients to a paste and pipe onto your buns.) Again put in a warm place to prove for 20-30 minutes. If necessary, re-mark the cross before put-ting the buns in a hot oven (450° F, mark 8). Glaze the buns when they are golden-brown and almost cooked. Cool them on a rack.

Glaze with warm golden syrup with a tbs of Bakery Bits pure orange essence.

*Recipe adapted from the Good Housekeeping’s Cakes and Pastries, published by the National Magazine Company in 1960.






  1. Rachel Lucas says

    Delicious, Vanessa! I make triple quantities of buns every year & take to the neighbours still warm on Good Friday morning…will use your glaze tip this time! Thanks too for raising awareness on the plight of the amazing orangutang…horrific, really x


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