These gluten free hot cross buns are the real deal – wonderfully soft, rich and flavourful, generously packed with dried fruit and incredibly easy to make. You definitely don’t need to miss out on this wonderful Easter treat just because you can’t eat gluten! In fact, these are so incredibly delicious, it’s difficult to even guess that they’re gluten free.
16g(3 tbsp) whole/rough psyllium husk (If using psyllium husk powder, use only 14g.)
260g(1 cup + 1 ½ tbsp) warm water
230g(2 cups) tapioca starch(You can also use an equal weight of arrowroot starch, cornstarch (US) or cornflour (UK), or potato starch.)
160g(1 cup + 3 tbsp) millet flour, plus extra for flouring the surface(You can also use an equal weight of finely milled brown rice flour.)
70g(⅓ cup + 3 ½ tbsp) sorghum flour(You can also use an equal weight of buckwheat, white teff or gluten free oat flour.)
50g(¼ cup) granulated sugar
8g(1 tbsp) xanthan gum
8g(1 ¼ tsp) salt
8g(2 ½ tsp) instant yeast(If using active dried yeast, use 10g.)
140g(½ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) whole milk, warmed
30g(¼ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1UK medium/US largeegg, room temperature
90g(about ½ cup, 3 oz) mixed candied lemon and orange peel
For egg wash:
1UK medium/US largeegg
15g(1 tbsp) whole milk
50g(⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend(I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, which doesn't contain xanthan gum.)
¼tspxanthan gum(Omit if your GF flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
10g(2 tsp) sunflower oil
60g(¼ cup) water
You will also need:
50g(2 ½ tbsp) apricot jam
8g(½ tbsp) water
For gluten free hot cross buns:
Line a large baking sheet with baking/greaseproof paper.
In a small bowl, pour boiling hot water over the sultanas or raisins until completely covered. Set aside for about 10 minutes, until the sultanas/raisins have plumped up and re-hydrated.Drain the water, making sure to squeeze out any excess water from the sultanas/raisins. Set aside until needed.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the psyllium husk and water. After about 15 seconds, a gel will form. Set aside until needed.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer, if using), whisk together the tapioca starch, millet flour, sorghum flour, sugar, xanthan gum, salt, yeast and cinnamon.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the milk, melted butter, egg and psyllium gel into it.Tip: If using active dried yeast, activate it first by mixing it with the warm milk and a teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes, until you see bubbles/foam appearing on the surface – this shows that the yeast is alive and active.
Using a wooden spoon, mix well until the dough starts coming together. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, making sure that you scrape down the sides of the bowl to remove any dry, un-mixed patches of flour.
Once it starts coming together, knead it by hand until you get a homogeneous dough with no dry patches of un-mixed flour. Just squeeze the dough through your fingers, going around the bowl until you’ve incorporated all the flour. The final dough will be quite soft and sticky, but should come away from the sides of the bowl. (Again, you can also use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook).
Add the re-hydrated sultanas/raisins and the mixed candied peel, and gently knead them into the dough until evenly distributed.
Transfer the dough onto a generously floured surface and give it a knead until it comes together in a ball. Be careful not to incorporate too much extra flour into the dough.
Roll out the dough into a long log and divide it into 8 equal pieces – I recommend using a scale to get the pieces of equal weight and therefore approximately equal size.
Shape each piece into a ball – see the blog post for detailed instructions and step-by-step photos of how to best shape the hot cross buns.Tip: Don't worry if the surface of your buns isn't perfectly smooth – that's partially because of the absence of gluten and partially because of the high dried fruit content. As the buns bake, their surface will smooth out slightly due to oven spring.
Once shaped into buns, transfer them onto the lined baking sheet, at least ¾ inch (2cm) apart from each other. I've arranged them in two rows of four (see blog post for photos).Tip: Don't pack the gluten free hot cross buns too closely together – if you do, this can inhibit moisture evaporation during baking, which can result in heavy and too wet buns. Additionally, if they fuse too much during baking, this will cause them to spread horizontally rather rise up vertically. If you want particularly tall hot cross buns, space them even further apart, so they don't touch even after proofing.
Lightly cover with cling film and proof them in a warm spot until approximately doubled in volume, for about 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. After proofing, the buns will touch lightly at individual points, but shouldn't be completely fused together (as cinnamon rolls might be).
While the buns are proofing, adjust the oven rack to the middle position, place a baking tray at the bottom of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 430ºF (220ºC).
Assembling the gluten free hot cross buns – egg wash and the crosses:
For the egg wash, whisk the egg and milk together until well combined.
For the crosses, whisk together all the cross mix ingredients (gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, oil and water) until you get a smooth mixture. It should be runny yet viscous.Transfer the cross mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle.Tip: If the cross mixture is too thick, add more water. If it's too runny, add more gluten free flour blend. It's better to err on the side of too runny than too thick, as a mixture that's too thick can bake up to be too hard to be edible.
Once proofed, brush the buns lightly with egg wash all over.
Pipe the cross mixture in a line along each row of buns, then pipe in the other, perpendicular direction to create crosses.
Baking the gluten free hot cross buns:
Place the buns into the oven, pre-heated to 430ºF (220ºC) and pour boiling hot water into the baking tray at the bottom. Close the oven door and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 400ºF (200ºC). Tip: The presence of steam and the high oven temperature will maximise oven spring and slightly smooth out the surface/crust of the buns.
After 10 minutes, remove the baking tray with the hot water from the oven and continue baking in a steam-free environment for a further 20-25 minutes until the buns are deep golden brown. If the buns start browning too quickly, you can cover them with aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done.Tip: You don’t want to keep the steam source (baking tray with hot water) in the oven for too long, as it can make the buns too heavy.
Once baked, slide the hot cross buns off the baking sheet and off the baking paper onto a wire cooling rack – this helps to maximise steam evaporation, to get a soft crumb that isn’t too wet, sticky or heavy.
In a saucepan on the stove or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, heat the apricot jam with water, with occasional stirring, until runny.While the buns are still hot, brush them with the runny apricot jam – this softens the crust further, as well as gives them a lovely shine and extra flavour.
Allow to cool until warm or room temperature, and serve.
These gluten free hot cross buns are definitely at their very best still slightly warm from the oven or on the day of baking.However, they keep well for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature, you’ll just need to reheat them briefly in the microwave (for about 20 seconds) to soften them up again – once re-heated, they’re just as soft and delicious as they were on the first day.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).