Who says we can't have hot cross buns for Easter? These gluten free hot cross buns are everything you miss--soft tender bread studded with currants and a hint of cardamom with that classic cross on top. Serve warm with the perfect Easter brunch!
We never really had hot cross buns growing up around Easter. I think the first time I tried one was in my mid 30's. It instantly became one of my favorite holiday breads, so I knew I was going to include it on the blog. I like to eat them warm, split open with butter in between.
What Exactly are Hot Cross Buns?
A hot cross bun is a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, fruity roll that has a cross piped on top. It kinda reminds me of a cinnamon roll, but has a chai-like taste because of the cardamom. Either thinned out dough or a thick powdered sugar glaze make the cross. Hot cross buns symbolize and remind Christians of the cross Jesus died on. They also mark the end of Lent.
Making the Dough for Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns
Making gluten free hot cross buns has never been easier. It all starts with my famous gluten free sweet dough, which includes:
- Kim's gluten free bread flour blend--there really is no substitute for my bread flour blend. That's why I worked so hard on creating it (I was fed up trying to make gf breads using store bought blends and other bloggers' blends).
- Sugar--this time around I made my rolls with brown sugar for a little deeper flavor, but feel free to use granulated sugar. There is a lot of sugar in this recipe, which is required with the amount of yeast in the rolls. Much of the sugar is food for the yeast.
- Instant yeast
- Baking powder
- Whole milk--use a milk alternative for dairy free.
- Butter--vegan butter, shortening, or coconut oil may be used for dairy free, but I would not use any other oil that is not solid at room temperature as it will change the consistency of this dough. For a dough without any dairy/butter, try my gf challah dough.
- Raisins or currants--I've used both raisins and currants and it didn't really make a difference. Use what you have.
- Spices--the most important spice in hot cross buns, in my opinion, is cardamom. But I also add cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of allspice. Feel free to make it your own and use what spices you love.
Adding an Apricot Glaze
I saw Mary Berry (from the Great British Bakeoff fame) make her traditional hot cross buns a while ago and she brushed a warm syrup glaze over the top. When I first made these rolls a few years ago I didn't bother with a glaze, but after seeing Mary Berry make them this way, I decided to give it a try and I've never looked back. It actually helps keep the rolls soft underneath and creates a barrier from them drying out after a few days.
I can't remember what Mary Berry's glaze was, but I chose to use a thinned down apricot glaze because I love anything apricot and it adds the shininess without the color. Plus, it takes seconds to prepare (in the microwave) so it was a no brainer. Simply melt a small amount of apricot jam with some water (to thin it out) in the microwave until it's the perfect consistency for brushing onto the rolls.
Piping the Cross
There are a few ways to pipe the cross onto these rolls. You can make a paste of flour and water and pipe it on before the rolls are baked. But this doesn't add any flavor and since these are gluten free hot cross buns, the flour to water ratio needs to be modified. Not to mention I love a great powdered sugar icing. So that's the method I use for my hot cross buns.
Add a little bit of warm milk and some vanilla to some powdered sugar and stir to combine. If you use a whisk, it'll likely get stuck because the icing needs to be thick. It should be pourable, but thick enough to hold up on the warm rolls without melting completely into them. We still want to see that cross when we bite into these babies!
If you think you'll be missing out on hot cross buns for Easter this year, think again! This gluten free version will let you experience the same tastes and textures of the real thing.
Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns
- 1 recipe Gluten Free Sweet Roll Dough, recipe follows
- 1 cup raisins or currants
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 large egg, at room temperature (mixed with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt for brushing on rolls prior to baking)
- ¼ cup (80 g) apricot preserves or jam
- 1-2 teaspoon water
Powdered Sugar Icing
- 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
- 1-2 tsp, or more hot milk (warmed in the microwave)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gluten Free Sweet Roll Dough
- 3½ cups (495 g) Kim's gluten free bread flour blend
- 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar or granulated sugar
- 1¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tbsp plus 1½ teaspoon (24 g) instant yeast
- 2 tablespoon whole psyllium husks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups (360 ml) whole milk
- ¾ cups (1½ sticks or 169 g) butter, soft
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- Place the raisins or currants in a small bowl. Add boiling water over raisins to cover. Let sit for one hour; drain.
- Measure out flour blend, sugar, baking powder, yeast, psyllium husks, salt, and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Add softened butter and, using the dough hook, begin blending on low speed. Add milk and eggs and continue mixing while adding the soaked and drained raisins or currants. Turn speed up to medium high and knead for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the mixer, scrape the sides, and cover the bowl. Place in a warm, draft-free area (an oven turned on to the lowest setting and allowed to warm up before turning off is what I use) and let rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- On a well-floured surface, knead dough until smooth, sprinkling more flour as necessary on your counter and the dough to prevent it from sticking. Divide the dough into portions about the size of a small orange or tangerine (about 3-4 ounces each) and roll each into a smooth ball. Place in a greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm, draft-free area for about an hour, or until rolls have doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Brush with egg wash and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until buns spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and immediately brush with apricot glaze. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Stir together the icing ingredients until thick and smooth. Fill a pastry bag or plastic baggie with the icing and cut the tip off. Pipe a cross onto the rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature, with butter if desired.
- Buns will keep, well covered, at room temperature for a few days. They can be easily reheated in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. If keeping longer, allow to cool completely before wrapping well and freezing for up to 3 months.