Warm and spicy, spread with melting butter or a smear of almond butter, these gluten free Hot Cross Buns are just the comforting indulgence for a springtime brunch I've been dreaming of. And of course, they're a superb treat with an afternoon cup of tea, too. They're beautifully light and fluffy - you can carry on your Easter traditions, even if you're eating gluten free! (Skip to recipe.)
Are Hot Cross Buns part of your Easter tradition?
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you haven't any daughters,
Give them to your sons.
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!
(Old English street cart vendor's cry)
The history of these traditional spiced buns is interesting reading. They've been around for a long time.
I've noticed those enticing Hot Cross Buns popping up in bakeries and grocery stores and feel a wave of craving hit me every time I pass by them. Golden-brown lightly spiced buns loaded with raisins and a touch of orange and lemon peel and the traditional cross etched into the top make me feel like Easter and think of spring.
Even if our Easter celebration will be small this year (I think the Easter Bunny might still find us, though), I am looking forward to a few traditions to help make it special. There will be pastel dyed eggs, marzipan fruits, and now these delicious Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns. When the kids were little, I'd always pick up a bag of them close to Easter time, and it's time to bring the tradition back.
So I've been on a recipe development mission, determined to come up with a gluten free version of Hot Cross Buns that can hold its own as a perfect springtime treat. I am happy to report, that after a couple batches of beautifully golden, cross-bedecked, raisin-speckled buns that ate disappointingly like hockey pucks (maybe I can use them to edge my flower garden beds instead of rocks), I've tweaked and reworked until I finally came up with a version that pleases my Easter-craving bun-loving soul.
These Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns are deliciously light and fluffy, with a satisfying stretchiness and that all-important mixture of light spices, raisins, and little pops of candied citrus peel. They're only very lightly sweetened - the perfect foil for a pat of melting butter and a drizzle of honey or orange marmalade. Or a smear of almond butter. Or just plain, still warm and steaming from the oven, along with a hot cup of milky tea.
Let's Make Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns
Proof the yeast and set some flax seed and psyllium husks to gel. Then stir up the dough in a mixer. This dough will be stickier and looser than a regular yeast dough. Psyllium husks and flax seed gel are my secret weapon for getting great gluten free yeast baking to turn out fantastically.
Pop the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it to rise - if you have a proofing setting on your oven like I do, or if it's a warm day, this will happen quite quickly. If it's a bit cooler, it may take a bit longer to double in size.
Shape the dough into a log and cut it into 12 pieces. Roll each one into a bun and place them on a baking sheet for a shorter second rise.
Let them rise again until they puff up nicely. Brush with an egg and honey glaze, then squeeze on the traditional cross with a flour and water paste and a plastic sandwich baggie (makes clean-up a breeze).
Bake until the Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns are a deep, burnished gold.
Allow them to cool slightly, and grab one to enjoy. Pull it apart to see the steam escape from that fluffy, spongy raisin-specked interior. Add a pat of butter, and take a heavenly bite.
A most delicious Easter and springtime treat!
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: It's very important to weigh the flours and starches to get the right consistency. I've given cup measurements to give you a rough idea of how much you'll need, but to get the best results, I strongly recommend you use the weight measurements provided. A digital scale is not expensive and is an invaluable investment for successful gluten free baking.
I have only tested this recipe with my gluten free flour mix. I cannot say how it will come out if using another flour blend.
Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns are delicious when warm. They firm up more than regular buns when cooled, but you can get that same soft fresh texture again by toasting them or reheating them until lightly warmed.
You can quickly grind whole flax seeds in a coffee grinder or blender. Grind small amounts at a time. If purchasing pre-ground flax seeds, I find they are usually very roughly ground, and I like to grind them again. Once the seeds are ground, they should be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months (whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for . If you can only get regular brown flax seeds, those will work fine, too - they just add a bit more speckling to the finished buns.
Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns
for the buns:
- 2 cups (480ml) warm milk, divided
- 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- ¼ cup (90gms) honey or maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons (20gms) finely ground golden flax seeds
- 3 tablespoons (15gms) whole psyllium husks
- 2 cups (280gms) gluten free flour blend
- 1 cup (120gms) tapioca starch
- ¾ cup (120gms) potato starch (not potato flour)
- zest of one organic lemon
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ cup (60ml) melted butter or coconut oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (150gms) sultana raisins
- ⅓ cup (50gms) mixed candied peel
- 2 teaspoons of oil for greasing bowl
- additional tapioca starch or potato starch for shaping buns
for the crosses and glaze:
- ¼ cup (35gms) gluten free flour blend
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Divide the warm milk into two containers. Stir the honey or sugar into one of them and then sprinkle with the yeast and stir that in. Into the other container of milk, stir in the ground flax seeds and psyllium husks. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, until the yeast mixture is proofed (it's foamy and bubbly) and the flax mixture is thick and gelled.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour blend, tapioca starch, potato starch, lemon zest, salt, and spices.
Add the proofed yeast/milk mixture, gelled flax mixture, melted butter, and egg, and beat with the dough hook or paddle for 3 minutes, until the dough is thick and sticky.
Add the raisins and candied peel and mix for a few more minutes until well combined.
Add the oil to a bowl and brush it up the sides. Scrape the dough into the bowl, and pat the top into a dome shape. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set the bowl into a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
Tip the dough onto the work surface lightly dusted with starch, and knead it 2 or 3 times. Then roll the dough ball into a log. Cut the log into 12 even pieces. Lightly dust your hands with starch and shape each piece of dough into a ball. Place the dough balls, touching each other (to keep them from flattening out too much), on the baking sheet. Cover the buns loosely with a piece of plastic wrap or a wrung-out dampened towel, and leave them to rise for another 30-45 minutes, until they've expanded to about half their size again. The rising time will depend on how warm your kitchen is. (I have a proofing setting on my oven, and it only takes 45 minutes.)
Halfway through the second rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
While the buns are rising, whisk together the ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup water to a paste. Leave it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes and whisk again to get rid or remaining lumps. Put it into a pastry bag with a small round tip or into a plastic sandwich bag and snip off one corner.
Whisk together the egg and the honey or maple syrup. Gently brush the tops of the buns with the egg glaze. Pipe a horizontal line of flour paste over the center of each row of glazed buns, and then a vertical line, to form a cross on each bun.
Bake the hot buns for 30 to 35 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown.
Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pan, then gently pull them apart and set them onto a cooling rack to cool for another 5 to 10 minutes, so that excess moisture can evaporate and they're not gummy.
Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns are best eaten on the day they are made, especially while still slightly warm - wrap them in a tea towel to keep them warm until serving time. Once they've cooled, toast them or reheat them to get the same fresh texture. Uneaten buns can be well wrapped and frozen (for up to 3 months), then thawed and reheated to enjoy again.
Makes 12 Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns.
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