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Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

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The scent of freshly baked hot cross buns hints that Easter is approaching. In fact, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten the week leading up to Easter during Lent.

These gluten-free yeasted buns are delicately spiced and are irresistible fruity Easter treats, studded with plump raisins. Enjoy a warm or toasted hot cross bun or two slathered with butter.

Showing the inside of a cooked gluten-free banger
When and who invented the hot cross bun?

According to history, an Anglican 14th Century monk marked each bun with a cross and baked the buns at St Alban’s Abbey on Good Friday, specifically for the upcoming Easter holiday. They were called “Alban Bun” back then and donated to the poor on Good Friday.

As they gained popularity, these buns symbolised superstitions and good luck charms. It was customary to hang one bun in the kitchen all year round to ward off kitchen fires and evil spirits. As a good luck charm, travellers were comforted to know that taking a hot cross bun ensured a safe journey. Additionally, presenting a hot cross bun to a friend was said to seal a friendship forever with fortune, as quoted in this rhyme, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be”.

How is the cross made on the bun?

The cross is usually piped using a flour and water paste.

However, using gluten-free plain flour needs a binder such as xanthan gum to prevent the paste from splitting and becoming too runny. After several attempts, I have perfected the right quantities needed to get a smooth and robust icing that won’t slip off the buns. I recommend using a piping bag for easy and accurate application.

Piping the icing in a cross shape on top of each hot cross bun

Hot Cross Bun Variations

Besides the traditional addition of sultanas, a mixture of finely chopped dried fruit like apricots, prunes or cranberries will work well too. Mix in some candied lemon and orange peel for a more citrus flavour.

Substitute dried fruit for fresh apple or pear chunks.

Delight the children with chocolate hot cross buns by using chocolate chips and cocoa!

Who remembers this nursery rhyme?

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

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FUN FACT

During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, hot cross buns could only be baked and eaten during Easter. This embargo was eventually lifted for one and all to enjoy them throughout the year.

Gluten-Free HOT CROSS BUNS

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
The scent of freshly baked hot cross buns hints that Easter is approaching. In fact, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten the week leading up to Easter during Lent.
These gluten-free yeasted buns are delicately spiced and are irresistible fruity Easter treats, studded with plump raisins. Enjoy a warm or toasted hot cross bun or two slathered with butter.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Rising Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 42 minutes
Course baking, Breakfast, Festive, Kids' Snacks, Snack
Cuisine British
Servings 9 buns measuring 7cm each

Ingredients
  

Yeast mixture

  • 220 ml milk, warmed
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp dried yeast, 2 tsp equals one 7g dried yeast sachet

Remaining hot cross bun ingredients

  • 330 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum, only add this if your store-bought flour does not have it in the blend
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • tsp ground cardamon
  • tsp salt
  • ½ tsp orange zest
  • 100 g raisins
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 50 g butter, melted & cooled

Egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • Few drops of water

Icing

Extra

  • Gluten-free plain flour, to dust countertop

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • Gather all the ingredients needed to make hot cross buns.
    All the ingredients needed to make gluten-free hot cross buns
  • Heat the milk until warm to the touch.
  • Mix in the sugar and dried yeast.
  • Cover and allow to activate in a warm area for 10 mins. I use my oven with the oven light on.
  • Whisk the flour, xanthan gum, sugar, spices, salt and orange zest together in a medium bowl.
    Whisking the dry ingredients
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture, melted butter and lightly beaten egg.
    Adding the lightly beaten egg to the hot cross bun mixture
  • Bring the flour to the centre gradually, using a wooden spoon.
  • Once the dough has come together, add the raisins.
    The combined gluten-free hot cross bun dough
  • Using floured hands, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 5 mins. The dough should be soft and not stick to your fingers. Add more flour to remove any stickiness.
  • Return the dough to the bowl and cover. Allow to rise in a warm area for one hour.
  • On a floured surface, divide the dough into equal portions. For accuracy, weigh the dough and divide the weight for each bun required for equal size buns.
    Portioning and weighing the hot cross buns equally
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the buns slightly apart on the tray.
    Raw hot cross buns on a tray
  • Allow the buns to rise in a warm area for one hour.

Egg wash

  • Mix the egg yolk with a few drops of water.
  • Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of each bun with the egg wash.
    Glazing the egg wash on the top of each hot cross bun

Icing

  • Mix the flour, sugar and xanthan gum together in a small bowl.
  • Gradually add the water to the flour mixture, mixing well until a smooth & sturdy paste forms. Test the consistency by lifting the paste and drizzling it on a plate, where the icing should form a line without spreading.
    Mixing the icing into a thick paste
  • Transfer the icing to a disposable piping bag and snip a small hole at the tip.
  • Ice a cross on top of each bun.
    Piping the icing in a cross shape on top of each hot cross bun

Baking

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  • Bake the buns for 10 mins on the middle shelf.
    Iced and glazed buns with egg wash before being baked
  • Lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F and bake for a further 7 mins.

Serving

  • Serve immediately with room-temperature butter. Keep them warm, wrapped in a clean tea towel.
    Baked gluten-free hot cross buns

Notes

  • Best eaten on the same day as baking.
  • Reheat covered in foil in a moderate oven for 5 mins or in an air fryer on reheat mode for several minutes.
  • Toast a split bun to give it a nice crunch.
  • Suitable to freeze for 2 months.
Keyword gluten-free easter treats, gluten-free hot cross buns, gluten-free sweet bread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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