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 :
The #FoodYearLinkup with Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen. I am sharing my Choc Cross Buns as a foodie celebration of Easter and particularly Good Friday.
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!
Free from Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.
Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.
Choc-Cross Buns (makes 18 buns)
120g dark chocolate chips
1 egg and a little milk – beaten together with a fork
50g plain GF flour blend
60 ml cold water
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1½ tablespoons light soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Melt the butter and mix with the vanilla extract in a small heat-proof bowl.
- Add the psyllium-egg mix, the activated yeast mix and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.
- Lastly add the chocolate chips and fold through. You should now have an even, sticky, thick dough.
- Tip the dough onto a well-floured surface and with floured hands, bring the dough together into a sausage shape.
- Cut the dough into 18 even pieces with a sharp knife and using lightly floured hands, mold/roll each piece into a ball shape.
- Place the balls on a baking tray (best lined with baking paper) with a slight gap between them.
- 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.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Make the egg-wash by beating an egg with a little milk and brush over the buns to glaze before baking.
- For the crosses : Blend together the flour, water and icing sugar until smooth.
- 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.
- Place the buns in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.
- 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.
- Remove the buns from the oven and brush the top with sugar glaze whilst they are still hot.
- 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)