A twist on an old favourite. These Marzipan Hot Cross Buns are rich with almond and speckled with apricot and cherry. With a perfect bun texture and a hidden marzipan surprise, they take the humble Hot Cross Bun to a new level. And even better… You can’t tell they’re gluten free.
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DON’T LOSE THIS RECIPE… PIN IT FOR LATER…
A Marzipan Hot Cross Bun Upgrade
Can it be Easter without Hot Cross Buns? I think not! But these gluten free Marzipan Hot Cross Buns take the humble Easter Bun to a new level. Updated and improved on my original 2017 post, this new recipe is upgraded and utterly delicious. No one would EVER know they are gluten free.
Regular readers will know I recently went all-out to develop the BEST gluten free Hot Cross Bun recipe. What I achieved was beyond my wildest dreams. Soft, perfectly doughy, Easter bun deliciousness that more than met HCB expectations… whether eaters were from the gluten free community… or not! How do I know? Because the messages and emails of appreciation and delight keep on coming. And they tell me that my Traditional Fruit Hot Cross Buns and Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns are bringing happiness the world over…
So, it seemed only fair that these Marzipan Hot Cross Buns with Cherry and Apricot got a makeover too.
When there’s leftover marzipan, get creative!
Marzipan Hot Cross Buns were originally created to use up a slab of left-over Homemade Marzipan. Of course, it would have been easy to pull off bite-size chunks and scoff. But at GFHQ, leftovers are an opportunity for kitchen play.
Frustrated by the ever-increasing variety of Hot Cross Bun flavour options offered to wheat-eaters, it was time to throw my Easter hat into the ring… And time to invent something truly spectacular and different. Let’s be honest… While there some reasonable gluten free hot cross buns now available in the shops, the flavour choice is exceptionally limited. So, why wait for commercial miracles?
And so… the gluten free Marzipan Hot Cross Bun was born. A little bit deviant? I hope so!
The key flavours in Marzipan Hot Cross Buns
Being Marzipan Hot Cross Buns, they obviously have marzipan as the key flavour at the core… Literally! But paired with and enhancing their almond depth, these hot cross buns substitute traditional Easter fruit with pretty orange dried apricots and red glacé cherries. In the new recipe, I also added a handful of sultanas to the mix. They bring a juiciness and texture that just seems to work.
The buns themselves are flavoured with almond extract, so the marzipan truly shines. But being Easter, there’s a hint of cinnamon incorporated into the orange juice too, that soaks and hydrates the fruit.
Inspiration for Marzipan Hot Cross Buns
The main inspiration for Marzipan Hot Cross Buns comes from another traditional British Easter bake… The Simnel Cake. Simnel Cake is special for the marzipan hidden and baked between two layers of light, spiced fruit cake, as well as the marzipan top (which includes 11 marzipan balls representing the Apostles, minus Judas). At Gluten Free Alchemist, we have a fabulous recipe for gluten free Simnel Cake. To be thoroughly recommended.
But putting a layer of marzipan into a round bun, is not quite as straight forward. Balls on the other hand, can be pushed into the dough… each dough ball neatly encasing the marzipan before final prove and bake. It’s such an effective and fun method for hiding marzipan in bakes, that I used the same idea in my gluten free Simnel Traybake cake.
Each slice of the traybake and (in this recipe) each hot cross bun contains a hidden marzipan ‘Apostle’ waiting to be found and enjoyed.
Making Simnel Hot Cross Buns
Of course… It’s a small step and a couple of minor substitutions to bake the perfect gluten free Simnel Hot Cross Bun. I’ve tried it and they’re divine.
Simply follow the original recipe for Traditional Fruit Hot Cross Buns, but add about 150g marzipan to the ingredient list. Roll it into 13 to 15 even-sized balls ready to be hidden and baked inside the dough. And check out the recipe below for the easiest way to squirrel it into the buns.
Tips for making PERFECT Marzipan Hot Cross Buns
Key ingredients and pre-preparation
- Follow the recipe EXACTLY. When I get queries from people about recipes not working, it usually comes down to a deviation either in ingredients or method. This recipe is complex and has been developed to work as it states.
- Soak the fruit in juice for a few hours and preferably overnight. This is REALLY important to fully hydrate the fruit for juiciness. And… so that it doesn’t suck the moisture out of the dough when it’s proved and baked.
- Use Active Dried Yeast – This is the type that needs to be activated with hand warm water and a little sugar before adding to dough. Do NOT use an instant dry yeast. It doesn’t work as well for this recipe.
- Be sure to fully hydrate the ground psyllium husk. Again, this will ensure the buns have a good texture… And that the moisture levels and freshness will last longer.
- Make sure the yeast is active BEFORE adding to the mix. If it doesn’t froth up, it isn’t alive. And ‘dead’ yeast won’t rise. Never add dead yeast to a mix as it will result in a failed bake and a waste of time and ingredients. (Key reasons for dead yeast will be either that it is too old… Or, that the water added to activate it was too hot).
Key tips for process
- Prove the dough in a warm place. I set mine in the kitchen under a layer of clingfilm and over a bowl of lightly steaming water. This gives the tray or bowl (and the dough) a gentle warming boost.
- But be careful not to over-prove. The buns should still have a nice rounded appearance before they go into the oven. If over-proved, they will collapse a little and be more dense.
- When rolling the dough into balls, make sure hands are well oiled. I wear a pair of tight vinyl gloves, which are rubbed with a drizzle of olive oil. It helps to prevent sticking and gives a smoother surface to the bun.
- Be certain to add steam to the oven when baking. Do this by either placing a heat-proof bowl or tray in the base of the oven and filling with boiling water just before baking… Or… If the oven has a steam setting, add a steam burst at the start of the bake… A further burst after 5 minutes. And a final burst at 10 minutes.
- For photographs of the dough at various stages of preparation, go to the Traditional Fruit Hot Cross Buns post.
Ready to make gluten free Marzipan Hot Cross Buns with Cherry and Apricot?
So, there you have it… Gluten Free Marzipan Hot Cross Buns with Cherry and Apricot that will give M&S a serious run for their money. We ARE special and deserving after all. And all this with a texture that is at least as good as gluten buns!
It may seem like a long process (and it is), but perfect buns (whether gluten free or not) involve a number of stages. They are not however that difficult and good things come to those who wait. These are super-special.
I hope you love them… Let me know what you think and be sure to share your gluten free joy with others too, so that people know where to find us. Leave a comment, rate the recipe and tag us on social media with you photos so I can see how they turned out – (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter).
Thank you for visiting Gluten Free Alchemist
Marzipan Hot Cross Buns with Cherry and Apricot
- spoon and fork
- Small saucepan
- cling film
- large baking sheet
- oven-proof bowl
- 150 g marzipan approx (shop-bought or homemade – See NOTES)
Hydrated & Other Dried Fruit
- 80 g dried apricots chopped into small pieces
- 70 g glacé cherries cut into small pieces
- 30 g sultanas (or substitute and split the weight between more apricots and cherries)
- 70 ml/g orange juice for soaking the fruit (soak fruit in the juice and then drain before adding to the mix)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon mixed into the fruit and juice
Dry Flour Mix
- 160 g tapioca starch
- 145 g potato starch
- 85 g oat flour For no oat version sub with sorghum flour
- 70 g sorghum flour or buckwheat flour For no oat version sub with brown rice flour or buckwheat flour
- 5 g fine sea salt = 1 level teaspoon
- 3 g xanthan gum = 1 level teaspoon
- 20 g Dried ACTIVE YEAST The type that needs activating (I use Allinson's)
- 2 to 3 tsp honey (for preference – or golden caster sugar)
- 60 g hand warm water
Psyllium Husk Hydration
- 3 large eggs UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 28 g ground psyllium husk
- 100 g full fat milk
- 2½ tsp almond extract
- 60 g golden caster sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 200 g full fat milk
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 egg + a dash of milk
- 30 g potato starch
- 20 g sorghum flour or buckwheat flour
- 40 g milk approx
- 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp water
Hydrating the Fruit – ahead of time
- Ahead of time, mix the dried fruit (apricots, cherries and sultanas) with the orange juice and the cinnamon in a bowl and leave to hydrate for 3 to 4 hours (or overnight), stirring occasionally.
- Once hydrated, drain the fruit and discard the juice. Set aside
Dry Flour Mix
- Mix together the 4 flours, salt and xanthan gum until thoroughly blended. Set aside. TIP: Weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously.
- Weigh the yeast, honey (or sugar) and hand warm water into a small bowl. Make sure the water is tepid only, as if it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
- Beat together with a fork or whisk briefly to mix thoroughly and enable the yeast granules to dissolve.
- Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes while the yeast activates. Yeast that has activated will appear nice and frothy and may even bubble slightly.
Psyllium Husk Hydration
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric whisk until they are just starting to thicken.
- Add the psyllium husk to the eggs and beat again. The mixture should become thick enough to start holding shape.
- Scrape down the bowl and re-whisk to ensure the psylium husk and eggs are well blended. Keep beating until the psyllium and egg become a thick, airy batter consistency.
- Next add the 100g measure of milk and the almond extract and beat again to combine.
- Set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the psyllium husk to fully hydrate.
- While the psyllium husk is hydrating, weigh the caster sugar, butter, 200g measure of milk and sunflower oil into a small saucepan.
- Gently heat on the hob over a medium setting, stirring frequently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. To cool more quickly, either transfer from the hot pan to a cool jug, or keep stirring in the pan to help the steam to escape.
Mixing the ingredients together to make a dough
- When the hot milk has cooled a little (you should be able to touch it without burning), add it little by little to the hydrated psyllium mixture in the bowl, whisking thoroughly between each addition.
- Next add the activated yeast mixture and beat again to blend evenly.
- Once fully blended, add the flour mix to the bowl.
- Beat the flour into the wet ingredients with either a wooden spoon or electric beaters with a dough hook. Start slowly (to avoid the flour spraying out of the bowl).
- Keep beating for several minutes to ensure the mixture becomes a very thick, even (but sticky) dough-batter.
- Lastly add the drained dried fruit and mix firmly into the dough until even.
Proof the Dough
- Scoop the dough into a single heap and rest a sheet of clingfilm over the bowl (not touching the dough).
- Set the bowl in a warm place to proof (rise) for about an hour. I set my bowl over another bowl with a little steaming water in the bottom (changing the water to refresh the warmth regularly).
Preparing the Marzipan Balls
- While the dough is proofing, take the marzipan and roll into 15 even-sized balls, each about the size of a walnut. Set aside.
Knocking back the dough
- Once the dough has risen to about double the size, 'knock it back' by stirring and turning with a solid wooden/silicone spoon.
Rolling the dough into buns
- Base line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
- With lightly oiled hands (I wear tight-fitting vinyl food gloves and rub a dribble of oil into them), pull off pieces of the dough and roll into balls in the hand, to make about 15 even-sized dough-buns. The balls should be about 5 cm in diameter.
- Take each dough ball and push a marzipan ball into the centre, pulling the dough from the sides round to seal, so that the marzipan ball is completely hidden.
- Give the ball a quick, gentle roll in the hand to smooth and reshape.
- Arrange the dough balls in rows on the lined baking sheet with a gap of about 1½ cm between them.
- Gently rest a piece of clingfilm over the top of the dough-buns (they mustn't be restricted) and set aside in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the warmth of the room). The buns will more or less double in size, but should still hold a good rounded shape.
Preparing the mixture for the crosses and the egg-wash
- While the buns are rising, make the mixture for piping the crosses. – In a small cup or bowl, mix together the flours and water until smooth.
- In a separate small bowl, beat an egg with a dash of milk ready to egg-wash the buns.
- Place a heat-proof dish or pan at the bottom of the oven and then pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Boil a kettle of water ready to pour into the heat-proof dish in the oven.
Baking the buns
- When the dough-buns are risen – very gently, but thoroughly brush the tops all over with egg wash.
- Transfer the mixture for the crosses into either a small piping bag with a fine piping tip/tiny snip off the end, or a plastic squeezable piping/icing bottle. If the mixture has stiffened too much add a tiny drop of water and stir through, BEFORE TRANSFERRING. The mixture needs to be just pipeable and not too runny.
- Pipe a line of cross-mixture down the centre of each row of dough-buns and then turn the tray and repeat the process at right-angles, so that all the buns are topped with a cross.
- Half-fill the tray/dish placed in the base of the oven with boiled steaming water.
- Bake the buns for 13 to 15 minutes (or slightly longer depending on the oven) until golden and firm on the tops.
- While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar-glaze by heating and dissolving the brown sugar with the water either in a tiny dish in a microwave for a few seconds, or in a small pan on the stove.
- When baked, remove the buns from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes on the tray, before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.
- While still hot, brush the tops of the buns with brown-sugar glaze.
Eating and Storing
- These Hot Cross Buns can be enjoyed either warm or cold. They will stay soft for a good 24 to 48+ hours, although may dry a little. Toast them or not as you prefer.
- To store after they have cooled, make sure the buns are tightly wrapped in clingfilm or a bag to ensure maximum freshness. (I place a little additional baking paper between them to prevent sticking).
- To Freeze: Freeze on the day of making and as soon as possible after cooling, tightly wrapped for maximum freshness.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist