Sunday, 6 March 2016

Choc-Cross Buns (gluten free) - ready for Easter!

One of the best pleasures of Easter is Hot Cross Buns...... Traditionally made to commemorate the crucifixion of Christ which is marked with Good Friday in the Christian calendar.

A heavenly treat which I try to keep special by eating only at Easter, they are, without a doubt at their best, freshly made, fluffy and warm from the oven or toasted and slathered with melted butter that drips down your chin when you eat them.....

If you are gluten free, there are actually some pretty good buns available in the shops at this time of year, with commercial recipes getting better all the time. But the choice is limited...... Walk past the standard bread aisles of any good supermarket in the weeks leading up to Easter and the gluten-eaters are spoilt for choice with everything from traditional fruit and spiced, through to toffee, apple, chocolate.... even date, cranberry and ginger.... Drool-worthy flavours...... but if you can't eat gluten, you can only look and hope and wish....

In sheer frustration, last year I managed to develop a fantastic Apple, Cherry & Sultana Hot Cross Bun recipe. We loved them..... gently spiced, fruity and most importantly soft and fluffy, they were a perfect Easter breakfast treat.

This year, I have worked on a different recipe with a whole new base of ingredients....... and these buns are stuffed full of chocolate chips! It's taken a couple of goes to be happy with the recipe.... I wanted a bun which was not only robust and sticky, but also had the essential fluffiness alongside a slight density, with a bit of staying power on the freshness front.

I'm pleased! These buns come extremely close to the gluten-based versions in both texture and flavour AND they meet both of my 'essential ways to eat' criteria..... incredibly moreish and perfectly delicious when eaten fresh, hot and steamy from the oven and also divine, crisply toasted (whether fresh or a few days old). They are also pretty good just sliced cold and sandwiched with butter, if that's how you prefer them. If you have too many to scoff, stick them in the freezer and defrost as you need them.

The extra robustness and characteristic slight density of these buns comes from the use of psyllium husk..... a natural plant-fibre which (very helpfully) mimics some of the qualities of gluten. It is perfect for use in bread-type gluten free products and seems to create a more 'doughy' structure than xanthan gum alone. It isn't (in my view) a gluten-substitute that you would use in all bakes (being very gloopy and providing extra thickening), but in these buns, it works perfectly!

I also added some ground almonds to the mix which (along with a dash of yoghurt) provides extra moistness and longevity to the freshness of the buns. If you cannot eat nuts, the buns are great without them - I've checked (see substitution below)...... the only difference being that they will lose their freshness a little quicker.

I have a feeling this recipe will be incredibly versatile too..... If chocolate isn't your thing (she says bracing herself for the shock of an affirmative response), just add some seasonal spices and substitute the chocolate chips for whatever dried fruit or alternatives float your boat. If you do create a new flavour..... let me know about it. I love hearing what you've done with my creations!

So with Easter almost upon us, start planning your buns..... Fill them and infuse them with your most favourite additions, spices and essences and gorge on them while you can....

I am sharing these delectable Choc X Buns with a whole Easter basket of linkies :

Tea Time Treats - with Janie over at The Hedge Combers and Lavender & Lovage. This month's theme celebrates Easter and Spring!

The #FoodYearLinkup with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. I am sharing my Choc Cross Buns as a foodie celebration of Easter and particularly Good Friday.

We Should Cocoa - Being guest-hosted for March by Lancashire Food on behalf of Choclette at Tin & Thyme. This month, the chocolatey challenge invites recipes which include eggs.

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice. These Choc Cross Buns can be helpfully frozen and eaten later, but frozen or not, a batch will last for a few days.

Simply Eggcellent - with Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. This month is an 'Anything Goes' month. That makes it eggstra easy to join-in!

Alpha Bakes - This month with The More Than Occasional Baker (and Caroline Makes). March's letter is a handy C...... That's perfect for Chocolate and in this case, Choc Cross Buns!

Free from Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Treat Petite with Kat, The Baking Explorer (and Cakeyboi). This month's theme is petite treats which say 'Easter & Spring'.

Choc-Cross Buns (makes 18 buns)


15g psyllium husk
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 large eggs
200 ml hot water (but not boiling)

14 g easy bake yeast (suitable for hand-baking)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
200ml warm milk (heated to 45 C/113 F)
45 ml (3 tablespoons) plain yoghurt

70g ground almonds (although if you can't eat nuts, you can just substitute for equal weight of extra GF flour blend)
250g plain gluten free flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
100g tapioca flour (tapioca starch)
160g oat flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
75g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons GF baking powder

60g unsalted butter - melted
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

120g dark chocolate chips

Egg Wash
1 egg and a little milk - beaten together with a fork

Piped Crosses
50g plain GF flour blend
60 ml cold water
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Sugar Glaze
1½ tablespoons light soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons water


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together (with a fork or non-electric hand-whisk) the psyllium husk, xanthan gum, eggs and hot water and set aside to thicken.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yeast, maple syrup, warm milk and yoghurt. Set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast (I put mine in a closed, very slightly warmed oven with a bowl of steaming water).
  3. In a large bowl, weigh and mix together the dry ingredients (almonds, flours, salt, sugar and baking powder), making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  4. Melt the butter and mix with the vanilla extract in a small heat-proof bowl.
  5. Add the psyllium-egg mix, the activated yeast mix and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.
  6. Lastly add the chocolate chips and fold through. You should now have an even, sticky, thick dough.
  7. Tip the dough onto a well-floured surface and with floured hands, bring the dough together into a sausage shape. 
  8. Cut the dough into 18 even pieces with a sharp knife and using lightly floured hands, mold/roll each piece into a ball shape.
  9. Place the balls on a baking tray (best lined with baking paper) with a slight gap between them.
  10. Cover the dough balls loosely with cling film and place in a warm place to rise for 50 to 60 minutes until almost doubled in size.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  12. Make the egg-wash by beating an egg with a little milk and brush over the buns to glaze before baking.
  13. For the crosses : Blend together the flour, water and icing sugar until smooth. 
  14. Use a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used one with a hole 5mm in diameter) and pipe crosses onto the buns.
  15. Place the buns in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.
  16. Whilst they are baking, make the sugar glaze : Place the sugar and water into a small heat-proof bowl (for microwave) or saucepan (for hob) and warm together, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
  17. Remove the buns from the oven and brush the top with sugar glaze whilst they are still hot.
  18. Gently transfer the buns onto a wire rack to cool (you can eat whilst still warm, or leave to cool completely and toast them as well)
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated


  1. They sound delicious! We also like ours with cheese as a normal sandwich, even using them for cheese on toast.

    1. Thanks DC. What a great idea..... I imagine cheese is perfect in HCB's (not the chocolate variety though!!!!)

  2. Thanks for linking up to we should cocoa, these sound delicious and have the bonus of being gluten free

  3. Thanks for linking up to we should cocoa, these sound delicious and have the bonus of being gluten free

  4. My husband is always asking for hot cross buns with chocolate in! I love dried fruit but he's not so keen so I know he'd love these. Thank you so much for joining in with #CookOnceEatTwice.

    1. Ha ha! Looks like you may just have to make chocolate ones! If your husband is anything like mine..... the way to keep him happy is definitely equated with his tum!

  5. Yum. I always thinks easter wins hands down over any other holiday in terms of food!

    1. I agree CC! The abundance of chocolate is absolutely a good thing...... and the spice is an added bonus x

  6. well don't these look lovely... I really love how you're continuing to improve your GF recipes to find that ultimate cake / bread texture. These really do look very good. I MUST make HCB this year, it's been a while and I love that aroma of all the fruits in the sweet dough... thanks so much for linking up to Simply Eggcellent x

    1. Thank you. They taste lovely too Dom..... GF baking is still very much in its infancy, so there is always lots of room for improvement.

  7. Oh wow - these look fab! And I LOVE the idea of adding chocolate chips!! Yum, yum yum :-) Pinning on my newly created Easter board :-) Eb x

    1. Thanks Eb. Chocolate Chips in HCB's are so good! Thanks for pinning! xx

  8. These look amazing! Hot Cross Buns are so good I would happily eat them all year round :) Thanks for entering into Treat Petite!

  9. Clever lady! These look fabulous! I have been meaning to get on with creating my gluten-free, dairy-free and fructose-free version but the flour is taking up rather a lot of my time. That and caring for poorly children which seems to be ongoing!!!

    1. Thanks Vicki. Hope the flour mission is making some progress and that the kids are all better..... Mine is now off sick too!!

  10. These really look amazing, you would never know that they were gluten free. I love that you've added some ground almonds and natural yogurt into the blend too - it must really add extra deliciousness to the whole taste experience. Yum! #WeShouldCocoa
    Angela x

    1. Thanks Angela. They don't taste GF either. I have made them with and without almonds now..... the almonds definitely make a difference!

  11. Well done! I love hot cross buns.I have a few friends who are gluten intollerant and I am going to pass on this recipe. They look so perfectly made!

    1. Thanks Alida. Me too! I hope your friends give them a go x

  12. Seems easy. I will try this. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Kathy. You're welcome. Let me know how you get on!

  13. I'm always astounded at your GF knowledge and this is yet another example. This recipes sounds really yummy, I love the addition of chocolate chips, I'm pretty sure everything can be improved with just a little added chocolate!

    1. Awww... thank you Charlotte.... I learn by hit and miss..... I really should get more scientific, but that might stifle my enthusiasm!
      I do agree though that everything can be improved with a little chocolate!

  14. i totally admire your commitment... i've just this moment made ordinary HCB's and they were stressful and time consuming enough, I can only imagine the pain you went through for these! Thanks for linking to Simply Eggcellent xx

  15. Oh goodness Kate. These sound fabulous and I heartily approve of the chocolate of course. I do love a good homemade hot cross bun and have been sadly remiss this year and not made any. I remember CT being prescribed psyllium husk by a herbalist a few years ago and we had a massive bag of it. Hadn't really thought about it being used in baking, but I can see how it might work. Thanks for sharing these with We Should Cocoa and Happy Easter to you all.

    1. Thanks Choclette. The psyllium has some amazing properties and I can see that now discovered, it could become more frequently used in my baking..... for bread especially.
      The buns went down extremely well with guests of ours over Easter!
      I hope you had a peaceful Easter and enjoyed plenty of wonderful foodie delights!

  16. Well done on creating your own gluten free variation of a hot cross buns. They look delicious and I love the chocolate flavour which of course appeals to the choc-a-holic in me! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

    1. Thanks Ros. These were a real success and I was so pleased with the texture. I've tested them on a bunch of people now and they all loved them, so I am pretty happy that this recipe is a keeper.

  17. Well done on creating your own gluten free variation of a hot cross buns. They look delicious and I love the chocolate flavour which of course appeals to the choc-a-holic in me! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

  18. Love these, going to pin on my GF board for next year! Thanks so much for sharing with Tea Time Treats :) A belated round up is on its way!
    Janie x

    1. Thanks Jane. You're welcome...... will pop over to check the out the round up soon! x


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