It had to happen! I was very pleased with these. They are not quite as light as conventional HXBs because sourdough is always chewier, but the crumb is soft and buttery, the crust light and soft. A definite hit, to be repeated. The recipe is from the Clink restaurant; I’m reproducing it here having converted it to metric from annoying cups. I give it in stages as it was in the original, because that’s the most effective way to plan it. The baking process itself will take about 2 1/2 hours including proving.
You don’t need bread flour for this; ordinary white flour is fine. I used organic white flour (T65).
The dough is very sticky. If you have a stand mixer, I recommend using it with the dough hook. Otherwise, sprinkle your work surface with flour, have a dough scraper handy, and be prepared for messy hands.
24 hours before you want to bake:
Feed your starter (100% hydration) and leave it at room temperature so that it will be healthy and bubbling when you want to use it.
Note: 100% hydration means your starter should be made from equal weights of flour and water.
12 hours before you want to bake:
Mix together the following in a large bowl:
180 ml starter
220 g plain white flour
230 ml milk
Take a good handful of dried fruit, and leave to soak in warm water. Leave everything at room temperature for 12 hours. I did this just before going to bed.
3 tbs sugar, or a bit more to taste — I prefer my buns not too sweet
50 g softened butter
a further 160 g flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
Beat together egg, sugar, and butter (the butter doesn’t need to be completely incorporated). Mix thoroughly into the sourdough mixture. One incorporated, sift in the flour, spices and salt and mix together. Turn out and knead briefly till the dough is well blended and smooth. The original recipe specified kneading for 10 minutes, but I find sourdough doesn’t need that much kneading, and the stickiness made it so difficult that I gave up and gave it a few stretch and folds instead! Return to the bowl and leave to rest for 10 minutes before lightly kneading in the thoroughly drained fruit (keep the liquid it was soaking in). You can do this in the bowl. Cover and leave to prove for an hour.
Tip the dough out and divide it into pieces weighing about 75 g each (this will make a dozen buns). Cup each one in your hand and roll it on the work surface to make a smooth, firm ball. Place the buns on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment, cover with clingfilm or a clean teatowel and leave to prove for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Make the paste for the crosses by thoroughly mixing together:
50 g white flour
1 g baking powder
5 g veg oil
50 g cool water
Just before putting them in the oven, pipe crosses onto the buns. I couldn’t find a piping bag, so I used a squeezy bottle, which worked OK. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, till they are a good brown colour and sound hollow when tapped.
For the glaze: while they are baking, put the soaking liquid from the dried fuit in a small pan. If you think there’s not enough, you can add some sugar and a bit of water. Boil to reduce to a thick syrup. Brush onto the buns as soon as they come out of the oven, and cool on a wire rack. Eat while slightly warm, with plenty of butter.