Chocolate Porter Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Chocolate Porter Sourdough Hot Cross BunsHappy Easter! I hope the Easter Bunny brought you all lots of chocolate. 🙂

This Easter I wanted to make some special hot cross buns (as in, more special than these or these). I was thinking something along the lines of “hot cross bunnies” (haha, I’m so punny… bunny… sorry) but then I came across these spiced stout sourdough beauties from Lauren Bakes (she recently posted a chocolate chip version, too), which stopped me dead in my cutesy little bunny tracks. Her recipe contained dried fruit soaked in tea plus a sourdough levain made with Guinness, which I swapped out for chocolate porter because, well, I’ll take any excuse to buy it, really.

The resulting buns are deeply spiced and studded with loads of fruit, yet have a surprisingly light crumb and, of course, they taste awesome. I used a combination of raisins, dried cranberries, and dried apricots along with candied orange peel, which plays well off the slight chocolate hint from the porter in the dough.

Despite the fact that I managed to take almost 36 hours to make them start to finish, they were actually very easy and didn’t even require kneading. All you need is sourdough and beer, two things I am very fond of and one of which I have in the fridge at all times. (I’m referring to my sourdough starter, I swear.)

Chocolate Porter Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Adapted from Lauren Bakes, who adapted it from Dan Lepard. Makes 20 buns.

The night before you want to bake, make the levain and soak the fruit. For the levain, combine in a LARGE bowl:

150 g bubbly sourdough starter (100% hydration)

375 ml chocolate porter, such as this one (or any other dark, flavourful beer)

250 g all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, allspice, and powdered ginger

Mix well to completely dissolve the starter in the beer (it will be very foamy at first).  Cover and let it ferment at room temperature overnight.

For the fruit, combine:

100 grams each diced candied orange peel, dried cranberries, raisins, and diced dried apricots (400 grams total dried fruit)

200 ml hot black tea

Stir, cover, and let soak overnight at room temperature along with the levain.

The next morning, the levain should be bubbly, slightly puffed, and quite jiggly.

To the soaked fruit, add:

1 large egg, lightly beaten

50 grams melted butter

Stir the fruit mixture into the levain, then add:

550 grams all purpose flour

50 grams granulated white sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix well to form a slightly sticky dough – you may have to get in there with your hands to mix it, but resist the urge to actually knead.

Once you have a cohesive dough, let it rest for 10 minutes, then stretch the dough by grasping it from one edge, pulling it up, and tucking it across to the other side of itself. Do this several times, rotating the bowl as you go, until the dough has been stretched in all directions. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat the stretching.

Let it rest another 30 minutes, then perform a fold of the dough: take it out of the bowl and stretch it out slightly into a rectangular shape. Stretch and fold it into thirds, like a letter, then fold it in half. Cover and let rest for an hour, the repeat the folding again. Cover and rest for 2 hours. (Note that extra time between each stretch and/or fold is not going to do any harm, especially if the temperature of your kitchen is a bit on the cool side.) Now you’re ready to shape the dough.

Divide into 20 pieces, about 100 grams each. I did this by patting the dough into a rectangle, cutting it into 4 strips lengthwise, then cutting each strip into 5 pieces. I then weighed each piece as I shaped it, adding a little extra dough or taking some off as necessary. Shape each piece into a ball by pinching the edges of the dough in towards the middle.

Place seam side-down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel and proof at room temperature for 3 – 4 hours, until puffy. You should be able to poke the dough with your finger and have the indent remain. Or, you can let the buns proof overnight in the fridge or somewhere else cool (like your cold garage) – cover them lightly with plastic wrap over the tea towel (or put the tray in a large plastic bag) to prevent them from drying out, and then let them sit somewhere warm for a few hours before baking the next day.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Mix together the cross paste for the top of the buns:

scant 1/2 cup flour

1 tbsp vegetable oil

pinch of salt

1/4 cup water

Mix with a fork to make a pipeable paste – you might need a few extra drops of water. Spoon the paste into a piping bag (disposable is very convenient here) or Ziplock baggie and snip off the tip. With a steady hand, pipe crosses on the buns. Bake in the preheated 350˚F oven for 25 – 35 minutes, until golden brown on top.

While the buns are baking, mix together a glaze of:

1 tbsp granulated white sugar

1 tbsp boiling water

Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then brush over the baked buns as soon as they come out of the oven to give them a glossy, sticky top. Let the buns cool slightly on a rack. These are wonderful warm from the oven, but they are also equally good toasted and smeared with butter and jam.

This post has been YeastSpotted! And also submitted to Panissimo, a showcase of breads hosted by Barbara and Sandra.


  1. wendyjv says

    Oh, I can just taste them! I wish they were spelt and right here, right now… Happy Easter to you and Nate 🙂

  2. says

    Happy Easter Korena! I am sure these little hot cross buns were a big hit! I am sure it was the beer that made them extra delicious, but I also think it might be your starter dough. I so have to get making some of that so I can get cracking with a little baking… Take Care, BAM

  3. says

    These look lovely! I’m so glad you tried them!
    The Boy loves Chocolate Porter so I might have to steal that idea.
    I can keep making hot cross buns even though Easter’s over, right?!

  4. says

    so these were the babies fermenting in the garage? great job Korena, you truly can master sweet natural leavened goodies like and better than a prof. and… would love to have them also in our coming showcase if you don’t mind…

  5. says

    i’ve made stout hot cross buns before, and these just remind me of what i’ve missed!! Though you’ve upped the flavour with chocolate porter! does it really taste of chocolate?? These look seriously good, and i imagine how nice it must have smelt while they were baking away…

  6. says

    I’m making these now and really excited to see how they turn out! Just a point – in the recipe you don’t mention adding 250g of flour to the levain. I was wondering why mine didn’t look right – so I checked out Lauren Bakes’s recipe and after I added the flour it looks fine. Just thought I would mention it in case it slips other people up.

  7. says

    Thank you for this recipe. My first batch popped out of the oven this morning and they are just divine. We used our own home brewed dark ale in place of the chocolate porter. So satisfying using home grown starter, home brewed beer to make utterly delectable home made hot cross buns!

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