Recipe for sourdough hot cross buns and sourdough biscuits from The Clink

At The Clink restaurant in High Down prison we bake with both a wheat and a rye sourdough starter.  The rye starter was made by the staff of the Clink about 18 months ago when we first started baking together, and they have some of the 1857 sourdough that I gave them as a gift.  The daily bread is made with the 1857 – different varieties of wheat sourdough bread are made each day to serve with the home-made soup of the day.  Yesterday’s was sun dried tomato bread and very good it looked too.  I no longer have any hand in the daily bread so when I do go down it is to experiment with new things and demonstrate new ways of baking with sourdough.  To do this we use the rye starter as it is a little bit punchier and more versatile.  To read more about starters, please click here.

Yesterday when I was at The Clink we tried a new recipe for sourdough hot cross buns and we decided to make sourdough biscuits using the left over refreshed sourdough.  One of the amazing things about sourdough biscuits (and scones for that matter) is the fact that there is no fat in them! The key to make good hot crossers is to take the time to make a pre-dough using the refreshed sourdough plus some of the flour, all of the sugar and all of the milk and let it sit for a good couple of hours to ensure maximum yeast activity to raise the final, well kneaded and very sticky dough that is enriched with eggs, butter, dried fruit, and spices.  The key with the biscuits is just the opposite – taking the care to incorporate the ingredients together without handling them very much.  Two different techniques and two different products!  Both delicious and made entirely without yeast.  All the biscuits disappeared at lunch time and guests were even coming back for more!  The hot crossers which took a lot longer, were just in time for the late lunch crowd to enjoy a taste before leaving, and for the kitchen and waiting staff who had worked a long and busy shift. Want to try (and I recommend it!)?  Here are the recipes.  No photos – not allowed at The Clink so you just have to use your imaginations….

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns (made with The Clink rye sourdough starter)

Day One, mix together:

20 g rye sourdough starter
120 g plain white wheat flour
60 g water

Stir, cover, and let stand on the counter over night.

Day One, mix together:

250 g sultanas covered in water

Cover and leave on the counter over night.

Day Two Ingredients:

Refreshed starter from Day One
Drained sultanas from Day One
450 g plain white wheat flour
150 g whole meal flour
300 g milk that you have scalded and let cool down completely
2 big tablespoons of sugar
2 eggs
100 g butter
12 g salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground mixed spice

Step One – make a pre-dough:

Measure the flour in a big bowl and make a well.

Put the refreshed sourdough in the well and add the sugar and the milk.

Flick a light dusting of flour to the cover the liquid, and cover with cling film.  Leave for two hours.

Add the eggs, salt, spices and knead well for 10 minutes.

Add the butter and knead well for 10 more minutes.

Put back in the bowl, cover, and let rest for 2 hours.

Form into small buns of about 75 g each and place them on a baking tray covered with baking parchment.

Cover and let rest for 90 minutes.  Pre heat and oven to 200 degrees.

Make a crossing mixture by stirring together:

200 g plain white wheat flour
200 g water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp oil

Pipe the crossing mixture on the buns and pop them in the oven for 18-20 minutes.

Melt some honey or golden syrup and paint it on with a paint brush while the buns are still hot.

Sourdough biscuits (made with The Clink rye sourdough starter)

Day One: Mix together:

10 g rye sourdough
60 g plain white wheat flour
30 g water

Cover and leave on the counter over night.

Day Two ingredients:

Refreshed starter from Day One
170 g plain white wheat flour
125 g milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Options:  sugar (to make scones) or grated cheeses, herbs, anything you fancy for a savoury biscuit.  We did grated golden beetroot, goat cheese and basil.


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Pour 3/4 of the cold milk over the refreshed sourdough and work it all into a milky paste with your fingers.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a separate bowl and blend them into the milky sourdough.

Knead the dough gently in the bowl just to form a coherent dough and then add the optional ingredients, mixing them in with your hands.  Add enough of the remaining milk at this point to help the dough come together.  You may not need it all.

Flour the counter top and pull the dough out onto the counter.  Knead the dough gently and then roll it out to about a 1.5 inch (4 cm) thickness.

Cut out biscuits with a small scone cutter.  Flour the cutter each time you use it and try not to twist it as you use it or you will blur the edges of the biscuits and they won’t rise as well as they could do.

Bake for 10 minutes (for small) or 20 minutes (for large).

Delicious!  Everyone agreed!

4 thoughts on “Recipe for sourdough hot cross buns and sourdough biscuits from The Clink”

  1. I have just made my first Sourdough starter and found your site while trying to find some recipes to use! Can I make hot cross buns and biscuits using the sourdough starter I have made from strong white flour?

    1. Oh good lord, is it not there? You let the dough rest for 30 minutes or so in the bowl and then you carefully squish in the raisins. The point is to try to keep them whole and not smeary blobs. DOn’t worry about the dough, it will recover, worry about the fruit!

  2. Thanks a lot! I put them in shortly after the butter, but I’ll wait half an or so hour next time.

    The result was amazing! Great buns. They were really filling up so we only needed a few for a whole meal!

    Only our crosses where not so bright as yours. Any tips on that? Might be just our oven.

    Thanks for the great site and recipes.

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