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A gluten-free take on Hot Cross Buns

There is nothing better than a warm hot cross bun, fresh from the oven. This sweet, sticky and spicy baked bread that has a cross on top is traditionally eaten at Easter time in the UK and in other English speaking Christian countries.

Back in the day when I could eat wheat, there was nothing better than a toasted hot cross bun with a little bit of butter on. I used to love walking into shops and smelling the spices of the freshly baked hot cross buns. Sadly now, I am not a huge lover of the smell of freshly baked goods as I walk into supermarkets.

Having experimented with bread in the past, I thought it was about time I attempted a gluten-free version of this sweetbread. How hard could it be? It turned out to be much more of a challenge than I had originally anticipated.

After looking through my library of cookbooks, I found a simple hot cross bun recipe. I am normally full of confidence when it comes to baking and adapting recipes to be gluten-free. This might be because over the years I have gained both knowledge and perhaps a bit of luck. This week it felt that my first time luck had run out.

A quirkier take on Hot Cross Buns - hot cross cupcakes? Photo: Samantha Pidoux
A quirkier take on Hot Cross Buns – hot cross cupcakes? Photo: Samantha Pidoux

I knew early on, in the proving stage, that this gluten free version was going to be very different. The dough was not doubling in size and after prodding it, it felt tough and not very soft like dough should be. As my heart started to sink, I desperately hoped that they would turn out better than they were looking. They did not, and for the first in a very long time, they ended up in the bin.

After a restless night, I decided to have another go. Adding a little more liquid to the original recipe and a fresh packet of yeast the second attempt was looking better. In the proving stage there seemed to be a better rise and things were looking up.

After the bake I cut one open as I could not wait. The taste was good, sweet and spicy, but the texture of the bun was heavy and dense. However, they were slightly more edible than the first batch. After a day or so though, the texture was so dense that the only way I can describe them is like rocks. So you can guess where they ended up!

I am determined to come up with a recipe that will work and that has a good texture and crumb structure before Easter.

Even though my hot cross buns this time did not turn out the way I had expected them to, I have however been inspired and combined all of the ingredients into a cupcake, which is not a bad substitute for now.

You can find out how I made my version of the hot cross bun cupcake over on my gluten-free blog.