Hot Cross Buns, Gluten-Free (reworked 4/4/12)

by Jeanne on March 31, 2010

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
one ha’ penny,
two ha’ penny,
hot cross buns.
If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons,
one ha’ penny,
two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns

This is the song (minus the words) that we listened to over and over last spring as Girlfriend was learning to play the recorder.  Apparently, this is the same song kids all over the country use when they learn recorder.

After listening to it over and over again, I started thinking about hot cross buns.  I haven’t had them for years.  But I do have a vague memory of eating them as a kid.  I remember really liking the dough, but I took out all of the raisins.  So did my brother and sisters.  We would sit at the table, eating our hot cross buns, with growing piles of raisins next to our plates.

I did a little research on hot cross buns and came to find that they are a traditional Easter season treat–or more specifically, a Good Friday treat.  In the US, they are traditionally spiced and a bit sweet, with a cross marked on the top with a powdered sugar glaze.  In the UK, the cross is made with pastry.  According to the, the concept of hot cross buns goes as far back as ancient Egypt, when they made”small round cakes, marked with a representation of the horns of an ox, to the goddess of the moon.”  The ancient Greeks and Romans had a similar practice.  And the Saxons ate buns “marked with a cross in honor of the goddess of light, Eostre, whose name was transferred to Easter.”

Whatever their history, they are delicious.  They have spices and lemon and orange zest, are pleasantly sweet, and contain raisins.  Yes, I’ve grown up a bit and will accept raisins in certain baked goods–as long as they belong there.

Hot Cross Buns, Gluten-Free

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C. (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C. (205 g) white rice flour
1 C.(120 g) tapioca flour
1 C. (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

Special Equipment Needed
-stand mixer is really helpful, but a hand mixer will do


For the Buns
2 C (475 ml) warm but not hot milk
2 TBL active dry yeast (I use Red Star)
1 TBL granulated sugar
3 C (420 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
2 tsp xanthan gum
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp each fresh lemon and orange zest
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
1/4 C (50 g) additional granulated sugar
2 tsp vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBL (55 g) melted butter, warm but not hot (or neutral vegetable oil)
3/4 C (110 g) raisins (brown or golden)
1 egg mixed with 2 tsp water for egg wash for top of buns
Extra melted butter for greasing the muffin pans
Extra tapioca flour for cutting the cross on each bun

For the Glaze
2 C (225 g) powdered sugar
1 TBL milk
2-3 TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust to your taste preferences)

Grease 18 muffin cups (I use a 12 cup muffin pan and a 6 cup muffin pan) with melted butter.

In a small bowl or a 2 C glass measuring cup, whisk together warm milk and 1 TBL sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in yeast.  Set aside to proof (get foamy on top).

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, spices, zests and 1/4 C sugar.  Set aside.

In the bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place eggs, vinegar, melted butter, and vanilla.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add yeast mixture.  With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture.  Turn up speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes. Add raisins and beat on low until just combined.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. With a wet finger, smooth tops. Dip a sharp knife into the extra tapioca flour and cut a fairly deep cross into the top of each bun. You will need to dip your knife before each cut (i.e., 2 cuts per bun). Do not worry if there is extra tapioca flour on the top of the buns–this will not affect the taste.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C/gas mark 5. Place muffin tins in a warm place to rise until double in bulk–about 45 minutes to 1 hour. I like to place the rising rolls on the stove to take advantage of the oven’s warmth to help them rise.

After the buns have risen, brush the top of each bun lightly with the egg wash.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes–or until the buns are a golden brown on top.

When the buns are done baking, remove from oven, carefully remove the buns from the muffin tins and place on racks to cool.

Make the glaze.  Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice until smooth.  When the buns are cool to the touch, ladle on a bit of the glaze into the top cross of each bun.  The glaze will drip down the sides a bit.  You will probably have some glaze leftover.



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