Sourdough Hot Cross Buns (Stiff Starter & Yudane Method)

by - March 12, 2021

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Easter is less than a month away and we are starting to see a lot of Hot Cross Buns being baked.  I have shared a yeast version last year (2020).   Please click "Hot Cross Buns (Yudane Method)" if you are interested.  For this year, I thought I would do a "Sourdough Hot Cross Buns" version using the Yudane Method too.  

This Sourdough Hot Cross Buns are so soft and fluffy.  My family love it so much. They disappeared from the counter so fast.

It is advisable to read the below general notes before starting baking.


Why I use milk powder?  
  1. Milk or milk powder will enhance the flavour of the bread and make the bread texture softer due to the fat in the milk. 
  2. Milk powder is shelf stable and you can have it anytime when you want to use.  Unlike liquid milk you need to finish in certain days once is opened.
  3. The enzyme found in the fresh milk can weaken the gluten development in the bread dough. However, you do not have to worry about this if milk powder or pasteurized milk is used.
For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.

Some have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  If that happens it is due to over kneading.  Please stop the machine and check your dough during the final cycle of kneading to ensure that you don't over knead. Every machine is different and there is always a chance of over-kneading when using a machine. You may need to adjust this timing and stop as soon as you reach the window pane stage.  This happen especially to Yudane dough method.   I noticed that it is harder to achieve a very thin window pane  with Yudane method dough. 

The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.  Usually bread flour content around 11.5 - 13.5% protein, while high gluten flour is around 13.5 - 14.5%.  All purpose flour content less protein around 9 - 11%.  To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  Sources from here and here.

The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 

Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate and environment. The humidity and temperature at your place will influence how dough rises.  
If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:

  1. Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
  2. If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
  3. If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
  4. There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 
If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof your dough until 90% of its size.

Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.

A healthy starter is very crucial as advised by Baking with Gina.  It is advisable to feed your starter daily if you want your bread to rise nicely and to use the starter (levain) at its peak.  A starter that is fed regularly will be more active in general.

If the mother starter is not strong, the bread dough will not rise a lot even though the starter is used at its peak.  

When is starter at its peak?  My sourdough starter usually at its peak when it rose to tripled in jar.  It usually stayed at peak around 30 minutes and then it started to fall.  

Why use starter at its peak?  It is when the starter is most active and will result in a better rise in your bread in general.  

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.


Yields:  16 small buns 


Yudane Dough:
90g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
90g boiling water

Sweet Stiff Starter (50% Hydration):
80g active sourdough starter (100% Hydration), at its peak 
240g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
100g water
40g sugar (I used organic brown sugar)

Main Dough:
80g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
All stiff starter (above)
All the yudane dough (above)
25g brown sugar (I used organic brown sugar)
1 1/4 tsp salt
35g milk powder
35g butter, room temperature
55g egg, whisked (from 1 medium egg)
20g water 
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/4 tsp all spices
zest of 2 oranges
85g raisins, rinsed with hot water and drained

Egg Wash: 
1 egg + 1 tbsp water, whisked

Flour Paste for The Cross:
40g plain flour
40g water 
1 tsp veg. oil

Sugar Glaze (I omitted)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp boiling water

9" square pan, lined with parchment paper
Pipping bag

* If you do not want to use milk powder, please replace 90g boiling water (yudane) and 20g water (main dough) with full cream milk.  Boil the milk and pour onto the flour for yudane dough.

  1. Yudane:
    1. Add bread flour in a bowl, pour the boiling water and mix well with spatula or spoon until no dry flour.
    2. Cling film and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.  I prepared the night before.
    3. Take out from the fridge 30 minutes before using to return to room temperature.
  2. Sweet Stiff Starter 
    1. Dilute starter with water, stir in sugar and mix in bread flour to become a dough.  I usually mix with plastic scrapper then mix with hand to make into a ball.  Please use stand mixer with paddle attachment to mix if you find hard to mix with hand.
    2. Cover and let it ferment until tripled. I prepared a night before and leave it in aircond room (approximately 24 - 25C room temperature) overnight until tripled.  It took about 8 hours depending on your starter.  You can also prepare and leave on your kitchen counter, let it rise until triple in several hours and use at its peak.
  3. Main Dough:
    1. Put all ingredients (except butter and raisins), including all the stiff starter and yudane dough into a bowl of stand mixer.  I usually torn the stiff starter and yudane dough into pieces first.
    2. Slightly combine the mixture by hand with the paddle attachment before turning on the machine so that the flour will not splash out.  Using the paddle attachment, mix for 2 minutes or until all incorporated.  This step is critical to prevent  an uneven mixed dough as the stiff starter is rather hard and a dough hook may not be able to mix it well enough.
    3. Change to hook attachment and knead for another 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. Add in butter and continue knead for 10 - 12 minutes or until reach window pane stage.  The whole kneading process, I stopped few times to scrape down the dough from the hook to be sure it is evenly kneaded and also to prevent the motor from overheating.
    4. Add in rinsed raisins and continue kneading for about a minute until the raisins evenly mix in the dough.  
  4. 1st Proofing/Resting:  
    1. In the same bowl, let the dough rest for 15 - 60 minutes. Keep it covered with clingfilm or use a lid.  This dough I rested for 45 minutes and the dough rose slightly in 45 minutes.  (I did not find any big differences between 15 minutes to 60 minutes rest.  So, please follow your schedule).
  5. Shaping:
    1. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface then divide dough into 16 equal portions or 9 equal portions (if you prefer bigger buns).  Please use a kitchen scale if you want to be exact.  
    2. Form each portion to a ball.  Please watch the video here "How to shape bun"
    3. Place place bun onto the baking pans lined with non-stick baking paper. 
  6. Final Proofing:
    1. Let the buns proof at a warm place until the dough rise double in size. This one took approximately 3 1/2 hours at at room temperature of 30C.  The duration of proofing depends on your ambient temperature and the starter.
  7. Flour Paste for The Cross:
    1. Whisk flour, water and oil together until become a thick pipeable paste.  Transfer the paste to a pipping bag and snip the tip off. Set aside.  If you do not have a piping bag just used a clean plastic bag and snip the tip/corner off.
  8. Baking:
    1. Preheat oven at 190C (top & bottom heat) or 170C (fan-forced) for 10 - 15 minutes.
    2. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle.
    3. Pipe a cross on each bun with the prepared paste. 
    4. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  For my oven, I make sure I did not bake more than 20 minutes as the buns will become dry easily by the next day even though yudane method is used. 
    5. Remove buns from oven and let them cool on rack.  Brush buns with sugar glaze if you like once out from oven.
Yudane Dough

Sweet Stiff Starter

Main Dough

I baked second time and made individual buns instead.  10 Buns (about 85g each) ⬇

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns (Stiff Starter & Yudane Method)

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