#AtoZchallenge – H is for gluten free hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are a tradition baked sweet and spicy bread eaten at Easter time in the UK. These are my gluten free version.

Hot cross buns are a tradition baked sweet and spicy bread eaten at Easter time in the UK. These are my gluten free version.

Every seasonal celebration seems to have a baked good attached to it. During lent and in the run up to Easter in the UK the shops are full of a sweet bread laced with spice and currents called hot cross buns.

My first attempt at making hot cross buns. They ended up in the bin soon after they came out of the oven.

My first attempt at making hot cross buns. They ended up in the bin soon after they came out of the oven.

Back in my wheat eating days I looked forward to this time of year as I loved the soft white sweet and spicy bread smell as you walked into many food shops. The smell of mixed spice hit you and there was nothing better than going home and eating one lightly toasted with a little butter on.

Having never made a gluten free version of my favourite Easter time treat I thought I would challenge myself and make one. How hard could it really be?

Attempt one ended up in the bin as the yeast was old and the dough was tough. After some research and drawing on my gluten free baking knowledge the second batch was made with new yeast and a little extra liquid. The end result ended up in the bin. I needed more liquid and was not brave enough to add what I wanted. As soon as the bun has cooled it went rock hard – it was not moist enough.

Having racked my brains to what I was doing wrong I did some research. I discovered the secret to making better gluten free bread is to add oil and to not knead it at all. Just combine all of the ingredients. Having only used packet mixes for bread I am yet to master making good gluten free homemade bread. Perhaps I should make that my next challenge!

This was my second attempt. Slightly more successful but they ended up in bin after I had eaten one!

This was my second attempt. Slightly more successful but they ended up in bin after I had eaten one!

The dough should be very wet and sticky, but don’t fret and to stop it from sticking to your hands making sure you have wet them with warm water while knocking back and moulding the dough to make the hot cross buns.

The end result I was very pleased with and they smell sweet and spicy. They tasted just like I remember them.

I am going to make one more batch as I want to see if I can tweak the recipe again. I am pleased with this version and would encourage you to try them.

The hot cross buns after one days will need a re-fresh in either the microwave for 20 seconds or cut in half and toasted under the grill.

You can keep them in an air tight container for about 3 – 4 days. Or why don’t you freeze the ones you are not going to eat and then defrost and re-fresh under the grill.

Makes 10-12 buns

Ingredients:
325ml whole milk
50g unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla extract
7g dried yeast
100g caster sugar
500g white gluten free bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
100g sultans
50g mixed peel
2 eggs beated
3 tbsp vegetable oil

For the paste:
3 tbsp gluten free plain flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
2-3 tbsp water

For the glaze:
2 tbsp warm apricot jam

Method:
1. Heat the milk, butter and vanilla in a pan until the butter is just melted. Cool until tepid and then add the yeast and one tablespoon of the caster sugar and whisk. Cover and leave for 10 minutes until the mix is frothy.

2. Put the remaining sugar, flour, salt, spices and fruit into a bowl. Mix in the eggs and oil and now add the milk and yeast mixture so that it is mixed in. Once mixed in, leave in the bowl and cover and put in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

3. Once doubled in size, knock the mixture back with wet hands. This will stops the mixture from sticking to you. Divide into 10-12 pieces and roll into balls and place on a oiled and floured baking sheet. You will need to leave a little pit of space in between each ball. Cover with cling film and leave to prove for another hour. It should double in size again.

4. Pre-heat an oven to 220oC or gas 7. To make the paste, mix the flour and sugar with a tablespoon of water at a time. The paste should be very thick. Put into a piping bag with either a small nozzle attachment or if using a disposable one snip off the end. In one motion you need to pipe over the paste horizontally across the buns. Repeat the motion vertically to make a cross.

5. Bake in the top of your oven for 15-20 minutes and then remove and place onto a wire rack. Heat the apricot jam in a saucepan and using a pastry brush into the warm hot cross buns and then leave to cool.

These hot cross buns are delicious just warm or toasted with some butter.

Happy gluten free baking 🙂

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About samanthapidoux

Double Edward R Murrow award winner for 'Best Documentary' and 'Best Feature'. Community and freelance journalist and programme maker. Currently working at the Lincoln School of Journalism at the University of Lincoln.

Posted on April 11, 2014, in Food and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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