One a penny, two a penny....hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns are the edible symbol of Easter for me.
Having not eaten chocolate since I was 9, the good old Easter egg doesn't hold much hope for an exciting Easter in my kitchen. It came as quite a shock to me that none of my American friends were familiar with the warm and fruity spiced buns that have always marked the month of Easter in Australia. I did a little reading and discovered that it is a British tradition (which of course means Australia follows suit) and is thought to have started becoming a Lentern tradition in the 1600's in which the crossed buns were produced and eaten on Good Friday. There are some superstitions surrounding Hot Cross Buns which suggest that if they are baked on Good Friday, they will not go mouldy over the subsequent year. There are even some stories going around that a couple in Essex, UK, have a bun that is over 200 years old!!
Having only just started out on my gluten free journey, I knew it was going to be a challenge to find a way to consume Hot Cross Buns this Easter! I wanted to create it with a little twist though, and so combined the flavours of Hot Cross Buns into a tried and trusted cinnamon bun recipe. I made the batch 2/3 regular wheat flour and 1/3 gluten free. The GF version were actually pretty good, considering I'm not yet skilled at getting the perfect flour mix, so it still had that distinct flour taste. But the glutenous (?) version, well, it was almost worth getting sick for! They were crunchy on the outside, doughy and soft on the inside, with the sugary spice and fruit combination that resonates with traditional Hot Cross Buns. This is my in-depth analysis, based on one mouthful, but my husband has happily confirmed these findings over the course of the day and 7 or 8 buns! Because the regular version were so much better, I will focus on that recipe, with a little note on how to make them GF at the bottom.
This recipe is an adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Norwegian Cinnamon Buns, from How to be a Domestic Goddess recipe book; with my addition of fruit and spices, and the GF tweaking of a third of the batch.
Ingredients - dough
1/2 t salt
21g of easy blend yeast
Ingredients - Filling
150g soft butter
2t mixed spice
1 handful each of sultanas, dried apricots and dates, all sliced thinly. You can use whichever fruits you like, and orange/mixed peel is often popular, but I'm allergic to citrus so chose not to use these flavours.
1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
2. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir into the flour mixture.
3. Mix to combine and then knead the dough until it is smooth and springy.
4. Form a ball and cover with clingfilm until it has risen and doubled in size, which only takes about half an hour.
5. Take 1/3 of the dough and roll it to fit the base of your tin, this will form the bottom of each bun when it has cooked.
6. Roll out the rest of the dough, aiming to get a rectangle.
7. Mix together all the ingredients for the filling and spread over the dough.
8. Roll up the dough until you have a long sausage.
9. Cut the roll into 3cm slices and sit the rounds on top of the dough in the tin, swirly cut-side up.
10. Pipe the cross onto the buns, which is a mix of flour and water, and set aside to rise again for another ten minutes.
11. Bake in a hot oven (230C/445F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown and glorious.
These are best eaten hot, straight from the oven, but, I have the feeling they would also make an incredible bread and butter pudding the next day too, that's if there's any left.
For anyone who doesn't really adore traditional fruit bread, this is a really gentle side-step into the fruit-bread world, via cinnamon and butter!
I used a store-bought GF Self Raising flour mix in place of the regular flour, and added 1 teaspoon of xantham gum and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. It never did raise before baking, but was quite light and fluffy after baking. I much preferred these when they were cooler, as it gave the flavours a chance to really settle into the dough and take over from that typical GF taste. All in all, they were very tasty, but, its hard to beat the real deal!
Happy Easter everyone! I hope you've had a relaxing and sweet break with your loved ones!!