Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Almond, Cherry, Apricot & Marzipan Hot Cross Buns - gluten free

Can it be Easter without hot cross buns? I think not! The Christian symbolism of the cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus is synonymous with Good Friday..... which when I was a kid, was the only day you got to eat these delicious offerings. These days, the hot cross bun seems to be available pretty much all year...... and somehow they have become a little less special for losing their rarity......

Either way, in the 'old days' in GF HQ, before being gluten free, I always bought our hot cross buns and would get very excited by the prospect of anything a little bit 'deviant' from the traditional sultana and mixed peel recipe. To be honest.... I've never much been a fan of mixed peel.

As the range of commercially-available gluten free bakes grows, it is increasingly easy to find GF hot cross buns in the shops, which to be fair, are largely pretty good. Our favourites for softness and texture have to be the Tesco's own Free From brand, which (I think) come pretty close to the usual glutenous Good Friday treat.

Unfortunately though, my envy of gluten-eating folk remains...... with any number of wheat-based buns sporting alternative flavour combinations being available...... all neatly packaged and free of faff. If you can eat gluten, you can treat yourself to anything from chocolate chip to apple, or carrot cake to caramel. M&S boast no less than nine different varieties to choose from..... including a savoury cheese and onion bun.

I could stay grumpy and envious of course and take the 'woe is me.... I'm gluten free and no-body thinks about us' attitude (which I frankly find really irritating), or I could use the dearth of commercial gluten free creativity as an opportunity...... Why wait for commercial miracles?

So....... What sort of hot cross buns do we want?

For the last couple of years, I have played with ingredients to get a good hot cross bun recipe and each with different flavours. My first foray into bun-world was a very fruity Apple, Cherry and Sultana version...... boy were they good!

Then last year, I made a Miss GF favourite...... Choc Cross Buns, using a very different recipe which took a few attempts to perfect. They too were delicious....... although I ended up with so many extra 'experimental' buns that some found their way into a delicious 'left-overs' Chocolate Bread Pudding....

So what this year? Well...... I have tweaked a few ingredients on last year's recipe to come up with these little babies...... Loaded with Morello glace cherries and soft dried apricots, infused with extract of almond and encasing a hidden treat of simple home-made marzipan, these Almond, Cherry, Apricot and Marzipan gluten free Hot Cross Buns will give M&S a run for their money any day!

They are amazingly good. Straight out of the oven they are divine........ They are still pretty soft a day later (I added a little glycerine to the recipe to prolong their squidginess)...... and if they need revitalising, a quick warm-up in the microwave does the trick, or alternatively, they toast to perfection and can be devoured with or without a slather of butter.....

Who says gluten free hot cross buns can't be avant garde? You just need a little creativity, inspiration and the will to make them yourself!

Oh..... and see those cute little eggs photobombing the shoot? I came home one day and opened the egg box to find that Miss GF had been busy in her own creative way...... Not sure I have the heart to eat them now.

I am sharing my buns with :

Treat Petite - this month with The Baking Explorer (and Cakeyboi)

Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Sunday Fitness & Food with Marathons & Motivation and Ilka's Blog

Other Hot Cross Bun Recipes from around the web :

Choc Cross Buns - Gluten Free Alchemist
Hot Cross Cinnamon Buns - Supergolden Bakes
Carrot & Ginger Buns - Veggie Desserts
Apple, Cherry & Sultana Buns - Gluten Free Alchemist
Banana Chocolate-Chip Buns - Eats Amazing
Vegan Apple, Date & Walnut Buns - The Peachicks Bakery
Hot Cross Bun Chocolate Rolls - Free From Fairy
Banana, Sultana, Walnut & Cinnamon Buns - Belleau Kitchen

Almond, Cherry, Apricot & Marzipan Hot Cross Buns (makes approx 18 buns)


70g ground almonds
200g plain GF flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
150g tapioca starch flour
160g oat flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
75g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

15g ground psyllium husk
3 large eggs
200 ml hot (not boiling) water

14g easy bake yeast
1 teaspoon runny honey
200 ml warm milk (45 C)
45 ml (3 tablespoons) plain yoghurt

60g unsalted butter - melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1½ teaspoons glycerine

100g chopped dried apricots
150g chopped morello glace cherries

slivered almonds to decorate

Marzipan :
made as in this recipe

Egg Wash :
1 egg
a little milk

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

Sugar Glaze
1½ tablespoons light soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons water


  1. Prepare your marzipan first as in this recipe or use a ready-made commercial brand. Roll 18 balls of marzipan about 2 cm in diameter.
  2. Weigh and mix together the almonds, flours, salt, caster sugar, baking powder and xanthan gum, making sure there are no lumps. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the psyllium husk, eggs and hot water. Set aside to thicken whilst you prepare your other ingredients.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together the yeast, honey, warm milk (at a temperature of 45C) and yoghurt. Leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast and until frothy.
  5. In a small bowl, gently melt the butter and then add the vanilla and almond extracts and glycerine. Combine well.
  6. Add the three wet mixes and the chopped dried fruit to the dry flour mix and fold until just combined. You should now have a very sticky dough.
  7. Using well-floured hands and a floured work surface, bring the dough together into a fat sausage shape and cut into 18 pieces using a sharp knife.
  8. Take a piece of dough and a marzipan ball and shape the dough round the marzipan, pushing the edges together to seal, so that the marzipan is concealed inside the dough.
  9. Roll the ball of dough gently in your hands to form a bun shape and place on a baking sheet, base-lined with baking paper.
  10. Repeat the process for each bun until all the dough has been used. Place each filled dough-ball on the baking sheet, leaving a good gap between them to allow for rising. 
  11. Place the uncooked buns (with a piece of clingfilm lightly draped over the surface) to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  13. Prepare your egg-wash by beating together an egg with a little milk. Brush over the surface of each uncooked bun.
  14. For the crosses : mix the flour, icing sugar and cold water together into a smooth paste.
  15. Put this mixture into a disposable piping bag and snip a tiny bit off the end to make a hole about 5mm in diameter, and pipe crosses onto the buns.
  16. Sprinkle a few slivered almonds into the centre of each cross and push down slightly to stick. 
  17. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.
  18. Whilst the buns are baking, prepare the sugar glaze. Heat the brown sugar and water together either in a small bowl in the microwave, or in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  19. Remove the buns from the oven when baked and whilst still hot, brush the tops with sugar glaze. 
  20. Leave to cool on a wire rack, or eat warm.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Oh Kate I'm not sure what to love more, the delicious hot cross buns or the cute little egg characters! NO! you can't eat them!

    1. Ha! Thanks Rebecca. They are rather cute aren't they? Can you imagine my surprise when I opened the Egg box? X

  2. They look amazing!! A sort of hot cross bun and simnel cake hybrid. I'm not a big fan of citrus peel either so love the apricot and marzipan addition. Miss G is so creative with those eggs, they are adorable!

    1. Thanks Katie. The marzipan was a last minute addition, but definitely made them!
      I have to admit though, the Egg creatures are the cutest! X

  3. I love citrus peel in my HCBs but I love to experiment too and am jealous of yours as my attempt to try something different was scuppered by a child who wants plain and tomorrow we bake some more traditional ones because I love those! Yours sound wonderful - in fact they seem a little like stollen cross buns. I have tried marzipan in hot cross buns but not in the centre like this so maybe I could try this.

    1. I know what you mean Johanna..... It can be so frustrating when the kids get very vocal about not wanting what you landed to make. The first time I made these, I had to split off a third of the dough before any additions and make some chocolate chip ones especially for Miss GF. These ones were so good though, that even she had to try a couple!
      I love your suggestion of 'Stollen-Cross Buns' as a name..... Now why didn't I think of that? x

  4. I am a real fan of marzipan and I just love the marzipan hidden in these - It's a great idea for hot cross buns! I hope you have a lovely Easter and thanks for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice x

    1. Thanks Corina. You too! The Marzipan made them very special! x

  5. Oh my, Kate - these look very, very good indeed! I love your take on life...not 'woe is me', but seizing the opportunity to get creative!! Thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare :-) Eb x

    1. Thanks Eb. Life is too short to moan..... especially if there is an easy way round the problem! x

  6. These look amazeballs! I am going to give them a go with my flour blend instead of yours. I love the sound of the flavours and the fact they are still soft the next day...that is impressive! Happy Easter x

    1. Thanks Vicki. Let me know how you get on! I don't usually use glycerine, but thought I would give it a try as a means of extending softness. Maybe it was fluke, but there was definitely extra life in them..... x

  7. Wow Kate, your Hot Cross Buns are stunning and I love the flavour combination! That hidden marzipan centre sounds heavenly too. Thanks for linking up to #TreatPetite

  8. I showed these to Jon and now he wants all his hot cross buns to have a lump of marzipan in the middle. Such a great idea, they sound delicious x

    1. Ha ha! He's a wise man...... Having tried them I would agree......! x


I always LOVE to hear from you, so please leave a comment, share your thoughts and stay in touch.

By leaving a comment, you consent to any personal information you choose to share being collected by Gluten Free Alchemist for statistical and monitoring purposes and you enter into a public conversation linked to the post. You may choose to make your comment anonymous by ticking the relevant check-box. For full details of the GFA Privacy Policy, please click on the signposted label at the top of the page.