Vegan sourdough hot cross buns

With only a two weeks until Easter, the supermarkets are full of seasonal goodies, most of which are a no-go area for me!  It’s not really an issue as I can make most things at home myself or do without. But there is one particular treat I really missed for years – hot cross buns.

Trying to find one that is fully plant-based, yeast free and pretty much oil free is nigh on impossible. Then last year during the first Pandemic lockdown I finally created a frisky sourdough starter and vegan sourdough hot cross buns became a thing in our house!

How many boxes can I tick with these hot cross buns??? Dairy free and egg free – check. Yeast free – check. Low in refined sugar – check. Nut free – check. The only one I’m struggling with here is gluten-free. I have tried to create a gluten free sourdough starter, but to date it’s all gone wrong after day 5. But once I do, then I’ll certainly make sure to make some hot cross buns with it.

If it’s modern wheat that you struggle with but can cope with spelt flour that’s great as it works a treat with these buns. But if you’re full on gluten free, that’s not an option for you – sorry. If you happen to have a gluten free sourdough starter, please make this recipe and tell me how you get on!

As with all sourdough recipes, this is not one to start the day you want to serve up these yummy buns. You need 24 hours, so plan ahead. The process is not complicated, but there are a number of steps to follow. The largest amount of time is spent with the dough resting, so it won’t take up too much of your day.

One thing I must share with you is the fact this recipe is inspired by another Karen, the person behind Lavender and Lovage website. She makes sourdough easy and understandable, two things I really appreciate. I used her sourdough hot cross bun recipe as my base and adapted it to make it both vegan and OMS friendly. Plus I cut the sugar content a little too.

I’ve listed a time for each step in the recipe below. You don’t have to follow this religiously, but you  might find it helpful to plan how you’re going to include it into your day. Don’t worry if things end up being a bit later, or if you need to cut down on time between each folding session. The key thing is to make sure the dough has a good 12 hours to prove, so try to be done by 8pm.

This dough is quite sticky, much more than my sourdough loaves, so I would highly recommend using a scrapper to fold the dough rather than your hands. I bought mine on Amazon but you can find them in shops like Lakeland or any good cookshop.

Finally, if you don’t have a sourdough starter, there’s still time to get one going and make these hot cross buns for Easter. You can find my explanation and video on how to do it here.

I do hope you enjoy this recipe. If you’ve been without hot cross buns for a while, are newly vegan or have had to make adjustments to your diet following a programme like Overcoming MS, then you’re really going to love these. Do let me know how you get on, or tag me in a photo on social media, as I love to see all your lovely pictures.

Vegan hot cross buns

A fully plant-based, minimally refined, yeast-free version of this Easter classic that taste so good.
Prep Time 23 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 day
Course Snack
Servings 12 buns


  • 150 grams frisky sourdough starter fed that morning
  • 5 grams salt
  • 300 mls filtered water
  • 50 mls olive oil
  • 30 mls soya milk
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice or mix of ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
  • 30 grams coconut sugar
  • 250 grams wholewheat flour or wholewheat spelt flour
  • 250 grams white bread flour or white spelt flour
  • 125 grams mixed dried fruit and peel

for the crosses

  • 50 grams white flour
  • 5 tablespoons water

for the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade


  • 9am. Feed your sourdough starter. If you have quite a large amount, feed as normal (I normally add just 30g flour, 30ml water if I've got quite a lot). If you have a smaller starter, bulk it up with 80g flour and 80ml filtered water. Stir well and leave to do it's thing.
  • 1pm. The starter should have bubbled up by now. Place a large bowl onto the weighing scales and measure out 150g of starter. Add the salt, filtered water, olive oil and soya milk. Stir well to combine. Then add the coconut sugar, and flours to the bowl. Stir the mix together with a large spoon so it comes together into a sticky dough. Cover with a damp tea towel.
  • 3pm. Using a scraper (if you have one), bring the dough in from the outside to the middle like you're folding it in. Turn the bowl and repeat. Do this another 2 times. Scatter half the dried fruit over the mix then fold and turn another 8 times. Repeat with the remaining fruit and 4 more folds and turns. Finally, fold and turn another 4 times - this makes 20 in total. The fruit should be well incorporated into the dough. Cover with a damp tea towel.
  • 4pm. Fold and turn another 20 times. Cover with a tea towel.
  • 5pm. Repeat the above.
  • 6pm. Fold and turn another 20 times. Now you have finished this stage. Place the bowl in a large plastic bag or cover with a shower cap and leave to prove for at least 12 hours. I just have it on my kitchen worktop out of the way.
  • 8am the next morning. The mix should have perked right up and almost doubled its size.
  • Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  • Dust the the worktop with some flour and tip out the dough. Using the scraper or a large knife, cut the dough into 12 equal sections. Dust your hands slightly with flour. Roll one of the sections into a ball and place on the baking tray. Repeat with the rest until you have 12 on the tray. Cover the tray with plastic and leave to rest for 10 minutes whilst you make the mix for the crosses.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5.
  • Measure out the white flour into a small bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix well to form a thick paste. You need it thin enough to pipe but not so thin it can't hold it's form. Carefully add more water if the mix is too thick a few drops at a time until it's just right.
  • Transfer the mix into a piping bag or small plastic food bag that can double as a piping bag - make a very small cut in the corner so you get a fine line of mix coming out. Take the plastic off the top of the resting buns and pipe a cross over the top of each bun.
  • Place the tray in the oven and bake for 11 minutes, then turn the tray and bake for another 8-9 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and the bottoms sounds hollow when tapped with your knuckles. Remove the tray from the oven.
  • Just before the baking time is up, place the marmalade in a small pan and heat until its liquid. Turn off the heat, grab a pastry brush and lightly brush the melted marmalade over the top of each bun to create a shiny glaze.
  • Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and leave to cool - if you can resist eating them all at once!
Keyword Easter,, Hot cross bun,, OMS friendly, plant-based diet



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6 thoughts on “Vegan sourdough hot cross buns

  1. My dough was a runny, sticky mess after leaving it out overnight. Was it supposed to be in the fridge?

    1. Hi Phoebe. I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve never had the mix go runny. To sticky but still manageable. It could be your kitchen is too warm and so the dough has over-proved. If you have a cool larder, pop it in there. Or go for the fridge if not. But take it out at least hour hour before you want to bake. It could also be your starter is a bit perky which again can lead to over-proving. Another issue might be down to the type of flour you used. You need some bread flour in there to give it some extra structure. I hope you have better luck next time. K x

  2. Hi I’m making these today and have noticed that your method doesn’t mention when to add the spices. With hindsight I suspect it should have been with the sugar but I didn’t notice I hadn’t added it until after I’d added the fruit. I chucked it in then though and folded the dough a few more times, I’m sure it’ll be fine! Will let you know how they do tomorrow!

    1. Hi Alice. Oh dear sorry about that! Yes you’re right, it should go in with the coconut sugar but I’m sure it will have folded through ok. I have been mine today as well. Fingers crossed we both have success in the morning!

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