Friday, 3 April 2015

Hot Cross Buns (apple, cherry & sultana) - gluten free

Happy Good Friday! Or is that Happy Hot Cross Bun day?

Good Friday is traditionally the day to eat hot cross buns...... a sweet, spiced, fruity bread bun marked with a cross on the top and coated in a sugar glaze. When I was a child, Good Friday was the only day to eat Hot Cross Buns and they were always synonymous with the start of the Easter celebrations. They were something to look forward to....... cut...... toasted...... warm........ slathered in fresh melting butter which dribbled invitingly down the sides of the bun (and usually down your chin with each excited bite).

These days, it seems you can get Hot Cross Buns for several months of the year and the anticipation of waiting for the special moment to devour them has all but gone. You can also get them in a whole variety of flavours from traditional dried fruit and its many fruity variations through to chocolate or toffee.

Personally I don't really like mixed peel and I'm not over-keen on raisins, but I do like sultanas and cherries and apple, so I thought I would combine these and test out my first ever Hot Cross Buns.

I'm not sure why I have never made them before, because I love eating them. It took me three recipe variations before I was happy with the result you see here. Hot Cross Buns should (in my experience) be a little bit heavy, yet reasonably airy, with a slightly denser chew. The first ones I made were too light and a little dry. The next were too stodgy. This 3rd test hit the mark....... freshly made this morning to enjoy on the right day!

These buns are laden with fruit (including some Morello glace cherries), laced with plenty of cinnamon, a little ginger, a splash and a grate of orange and are sweetened with honey. Coated with a brown sugar glaze, they are a good, comparable gluten free alternative for those of us who can't (or don't) eat gluten. They taste wonderful straight from the oven and stay soft and moist well after cooling. Eat them straight or toast in the traditional way....... The perfect Easter treat!

Some of the batch were baked as individual buns, and some as a Hot Cross Bun round. The buns in the 'round' stuck together well as they rose and peeled apart perfectly after baking. Actually I preferred them this way as the sides seemed softer and fluffier than those that were exposed entirely to the heat of the oven. If you prefer a crisper edge, just go with the ordinary spaced apart baking method.

I ate mine with an amazing zesty, fruity citrus curd that I made to get rid of some fruit which needed to be used (recipe to be posted soon). Delicious!

I am offering my lovely buns to share with :

Alpha Bakes - This month with Caroline Makes (and Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker). April's letter came up as 'B'...... That will be for 'Buns' then?!

Treat Petite with Kat at The Baking Explorer (and Cakeyboi), who have set the theme this month as 'Hello Spring'. Easter always marks the start of Spring for me, so a bun dedicated to such a major Spring festival seems appropriate.

The FoodYearLinkup with My Recipe Book

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Cook Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello

Hot Cross Buns (Apple, Cherry & Sultana) (makes about 25 buns)


320g plain gluten free flour blend (I used Mix A from this post)
100g tapioca flour
160g gluten free oat flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon modified tapioca starch (Isabel's Baking Fix/Expandex)
3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
270 ml hand-warm milk
20g easy bake yeast (I used Allinsons)
1 teaspoon honey
240g unsalted butter 
180g honey
3 large eggs
finely grated zest 1 orange
1 teaspoon orange extract
60g sultanas
100g dried apple (cut into small pieces)
60g glace cherries (I used Morello glace cherries)
olive oil (to grease hands when rolling dough balls) 

Paste for Crosses
50g plain GF flour mix
70 ml cold water

Syrup Glaze
1½ tablespoons light soft brown sugar
3 tablespoons water


  1. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Mix together the flours, xanthan gum, modified tapioca starch, spices and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm milk, yeast and 1 teaspoon honey and leave for 10 minutes to activate and froth.
  4. In a separate medium-sized glass heat-proof bowl, melt the butter with the honey in the microwave on medium setting (30 second bursts, stirring between each) and whisk to combine. (or you can heat gently in a small saucepan and then transfer to a bowl once melted)
  5. Remove from the heat and cool slightly, before whisking in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Pour the butter mixture onto the yeast-milk mixture and whisk together.
  7. Add and stir in the zest, orange extract and dried fruit.
  8. Add the flour mix and fold to combine until you have a sticky, even dough.
  9. Rub a little olive oil onto your hands and take a small piece of dough and roll into a ball (about 6 cm/2½ inches in diameter). Place on the baking sheet.
  10. Repeat the rolling process (intermittently re-oiling your hands) until all of the dough is used.
  11. Use a lightly greased knife to gently score a cross in the top of each bun.
  12. Cover lightly with a piece of cling film, place the trays in a warm place and leave the dough to rise for about 50 to 60 minutes.
  13. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  14. When risen, make a smooth flour paste by mixing the flour and water together.
  15. Pipe a cross onto the top of each bun (following the score line)
  16. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
  17. Whilst baking, make the glaze by mixing the sugar and water and heating either in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave to dissolve and blend.
  18. Remove the buns from the oven and brush each with a good coating of sugar glaze before placing on a wire rack to cool.
  19. Delicious warm, cold or toasted!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated


  1. I love these breads! Having about one or two of these for breakfast sounds amazing right about now. :9

    Vegetarian Courtesy

    1. Me too Adi! I ate them for lunch as well today....... Well..... it is Easter! x

  2. They look lovely and you're right they do have to have a certain stodginess to them although I adore that peel flavour and aroma when toasted. Gorgeous. Happy Easter x

    1. Thanks Dom. Toasted is definitely the best way to eat them in my book. I will be doing just that tomorrow morning! Happy Easter to you too x

  3. These look perfect and I like the combination of apple, cherry and sultana. J has been asking for hot cross buns for days but I just haven't had time. Will see if I can make some before the end of the weekend! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes. Happy Easter x

    1. Thanks Ros. I much prefer the less-traditional flavours! Hope you got to make some x

  4. I love making hot cross buns - I have some in the freezer to last a wee bit but feel I have had enough for a while after the last few days. Yours sound really lovely. Didn't know you could get tapica starch as well as tapioca flour - I usually get whatever is in the supermarket but they didn't have any today so I may need to go to a health food shop for it. Hope you had a lovely easter.

    1. Me too! All my 'experiments' (which didn't make the final recipe) are in the freezer..... I can feel a bread and butter pud coming on....
      The modified Tapioca Starch is an ingredient which is different to the Tapioca Starch Flour. It has a particular quality to bind and stretch, so is particularly good with pasta and breads. It took me a while to find it in the UK. I have no idea whether it has made Australia yet?

  5. Hot Cross Buns are incredible, aren't they? I think we should be making them year-round – nothing beats them for breakfast with some butter... mmmmm
    Thanks for linking up with #CookBlogShare

  6. So perfectly baked and a gorgeous flavour combination. Thanks for entering into Treat Petite!

  7. These look really good - a nice flavour twist. Thanks for sharing with Alphabakes!

    1. Your welcome Caroline. I was thrilled with how well they turned out. I will definitely be making further twists to the base recipe.... it was that good!

  8. mmm yummy. One of my favorite recipes. Thanks for sharing this.



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