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Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

March 19, 2021
At a Glance

Summary

Chewy yeasted gluten free hot cross buns are fragrant with plenty of warm spices, plus lemon and orange zest. Happy Easter!

Categories

Prep / Cook Time

15 minutes plus rising time / About 30 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (6 votes)
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Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Warm and fragrant, these traditional gluten free hot cross buns will make your house smell like a home, and make your Easter celebration special.

Hot cross buns with frosting crosses on wire rack

What makes these buns special?

Yeasty and lightly sweet, with just the right spices (don’t skip the cardamom; they just won’t smell right), these gluten free hot cross buns will bring back memories for many. They’re like a less-eggy, differently spiced version of panettone.

These hot cross buns are made with a highly enriched dough, with plenty of unique flavors. The dough has eggs, and lots of butter, plus allspice, cinnamon, and cardamom.

The zest of a lemon and the zest of an orange brighten up the aroma and the flavors. If you really don’t care for all those flavors, though, you can omit any of them without changing anything else in the recipe.

If you don’t have all the different spices, you can use apple pie spice, which is quite similar. Or even just all cinnamon—but consider the other spices! They just smell so good.

Hot cross bun split in half with butter and butter knife on small white plate

What to expect from this bread-making experience

This isn’t a high-rising dough

Be sure to read through the whole recipe before you begin, so that you account for the resting and then rising time for the rolls. This isn’t a high-rising dough at all, despite 9 grams of instant yeast, since it isn’t a very wet dough.

After you make the dough, you should allow it to rest for 45 minutes, covered. It won’t rise much, but allowing this rest gives the flours some time to absorb the wet ingredients.

Once the buns are shaped, they will only rise to about 150% of their original size. The recipe in my bread book for gluten free hot cross buns is made with gluten free bread flour, and it rises higher.

You’ll find that the buns have quite a bit of “oven spring,” which is the rise that happens when yeast bread is in the oven. The rolls will separate at the site of their slashes, and the inside will be tender and chewy.

pastry brush placing glaze on risen hot cross bun on white paper on tray

The buns will be tender but chewy

This recipe makes buns that are tender inside, thanks to the plenty of eggs and butter in the dough. But they’re not meant to be light and fluffy.

The sweet egg glaze on the outside of the raw, risen buns helps them brown evenly and develop a crisp, thin shell during baking. Eat them sliced open and slathered with soft butter, or whole and plain.

Hot cross buns baked on white paper on tray

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

If you can’t have dairy, in place of milk you can use any unsweetened nondairy milk you like. My favorite is unsweetened almond milk, and since it has fat it’s not too watery.

In place of butter, you can try using your favorite vegan butter. My favorite brands are Miyoko’s Kitchen and Melt.

Eggs

There is only one whole egg in the bread dough, but there’s also an egg yolk which provides richness. The whole egg in the bread should be able to be replaced with one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). In place of the egg yolk, you can try adding another tablespoon (14 g) of unsalted butter.

For the glaze, which is made with an egg, you should be able to make something similar by mixing confectioners’ sugar with heavy whipping cream. That should also help the rolls shine and brown.

Overhead image of large knife, hot cross buns on wire rack, on small plate, and on small plate cut in half with butter

Tapioca starch/flour

Tapioca starch/flour is a separate ingredient from the all purpose gluten free flour blend in this recipe. That means that, regardless of the composition of your all purpose gluten free flour (all of my recommended blends contain tapioca starch), you will need 75 grams of tapioca starch/flour.

If you can’t have tapioca starch, you can try using superfine sweet white rice flour in its place. That’s also called “glutinous” rice flour, and is made with short grain rice. I can’t promise results, though, since I haven’t tried it.

Dried currants

Hot cross buns are traditionally made with dried currants, but if you can’t find them or honestly don’t feel like bothering (I hear you), you really don’t have to use them. Any small dried fruit will work just fine.

I think they’d be great with chopped dried apricots, but of course raisins would work, too. You can also use fewer currants or other dried fruit, if you’d like a less currant-dense hot cross bun.

Instant yeast

If you don’t have instant yeast (also called bread maker or rapid rise yeast), you can use active dry yeast in its place. You’ll need more active dry yeast, and you’ll need to let it prove in the milk first.

To convert a recipe that calls for instant yeast to use active dry yeast instead, you need 125% as much, by weight. Here, the recipe calls for 9 grams instant yeast, so you’ll need (9 grams x 1.25) 11¼ grams. Just use a bit more than 11 grams and you’ll be fine.

Hot cross bun with frosting cross on small white plate with butter in background

Words Hot Cross Buns with one bun cut in half with butter, one whole on wire rack, and one whole on tray

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 8 buns

Ingredients

For the bread
2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour, plus more for dusting (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

5/8 cup (75 g) tapioca starch/flour, plus more for sprinkling

½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast (9 g) (See Recipe Notes)

1 teaspoon (4 g) cream of tartar (See Recipe Notes)

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Grated zest of 1 small orange (about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¾ cup (6 fluid ounces) warm milk

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) plus 1 egg yolk (25 g), at room temperature

8 tablespoons (112 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

5 ounces dried currants

For the glaze
1 egg (any size), at room temperature

¼ cup (about 30 g) confectioners’ sugar

For the icing
½ cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons milk

Directions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch/flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and cream of tartar. Whisk to combine well. Add the cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, lemon zest and orange zest, and whisk again to combine well.

  • Add the vanilla, vinegar, milk, 1 egg and egg yolk, and the melted butter. Beat  until very smooth and uniform in color and texture. The dough will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, add the currants to the dough, and mix until they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough.

  • Cover the dough and allow it to rest, covered, for about 45 minutes. It won’t visibly rise very much. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper, and set it aside.

  • Divide the dough into 8 approximately equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time on a surface lightly dusted with tapioca starch, roll each piece of dough into a tight ball. The dough should be relatively easy to work with, but sprinkle lightly with more tapioca starch as needed to prevent sticking. If the dough separates at all, pinch it together and continue to shape. Place the buns about 1½ -inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

  • Cover the baking sheet with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free environment to rise until about 150% of their original size. In warmer, more humid environments, they may rise sufficiently in 45 minutes to an hour. Otherwise, it may take much longer.

  • While the buns are nearly done rising, preheat your oven to 350°F and make the egg glaze. In a small bowl, place the egg and beat it well. Add the 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar, and beat to combine well. You should have a thick, shiny glaze.

  • Once the rolls have finished rising, with a sharp knife, slice a cross (+) on top of each roll about 1/4-inch deep. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each bun generously with the egg glaze.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the buns are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Allow the buns to cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Once the buns are cool, make the icing for the cross. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ½ cup confectioner’s sugar with 1 teaspoon milk. Mix to combine well. It will form a thick paste. Thin it with some more milk, a drop or two at a time, until it falls off the spoon slowly but steadily.

  • Once the rolls have cooled completely, place the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small, plain tip, and pipe a cross (+) neatly over the cross you made with a knife, on each roll. If you attempt to ice the cross before the rolls are completely cool, the icing will melt and run.

  • Allow the icing to set and serve. Leftovers can be frozen in a single layer, then wrapped tightly with freezer-safe wrap. Defrost at room temperature, then sprinkle lightly with water and refresh in a warm toaster oven.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2012. Recipe method changed, and recipe itself modified slightly to add tapioca starch/flour for much better results. Video and all photos new.

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Deb
    April 19, 2021 at 12:52 PM

    I am a little confused about this. It sounds like you are saying use Mock Better Batter but then don’t used it.
    “One more important thing about (Mock) Better Batter: It is the flour that I use to build my High Quality Gluten Free Bread Flour for alllll the amazing breads in Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread.
    But when I make that bread flour, I use Better Batter itself. I don’t build a mock Better Batter for that.”
    Thanks!

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 19, 2021 at 1:02 PM

      I’m saying that you can treat Better Batter and my mock Better Batter recipe exactly the same, Deb!

  • Sophie
    April 3, 2021 at 12:14 PM

    Dried currants have nothing to do with “real” red or black currants but are actually a kind of small raisin. I used half golden raisins and half finely chopped “sour” (unsweetened) dried apricots. It was quite delicious. My dough was definitely softer than yours but I don’t have access to the same flours and so my doughs are usually a bit off. So my buns aren’t quite as well shaped and tall as yours but they are lovely and soft and light inside, chewy on the outside and bursting with flavor! Absolutely love them. Brings back some lovely memories.

  • Deb
    April 2, 2021 at 11:13 PM

    I am wondering why my dough was so goopy, and not firm like yours. Your dough looked like the texture of regular flour, clearing the sides of the bowl, etc. I had to add another cup of flour to make it come close to your texture. I used King Arthur’s G. F. all purpose flour. I also only had to bake them for 20 minutes.
    Any suggestions? By the way they turned out delicious!! Thanks, so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 3, 2021 at 9:03 AM

      You cannot use King Arthur flour in my recipes, Deb. Please click the link that is connected to the term “all purpose gluten free flour” in the recipe. It explains all the details about which flour blends work and which ones don’t.

  • Margaret
    April 2, 2021 at 11:35 AM

    Can I use the poke test for these as I would for a gluten-y dough? That’s been my standard for checking dough, and I’m familiar with it. I’m so happy with this recipe so far! My children and I made the dough yesterday, rested it in the fridge overnight, and it was so easy to shape this morning! Rolling balls of bread dough has never been my forte, so I was so pleased by how easy this dough is to work with!

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 2, 2021 at 12:56 PM

      No, Margaret, if you’re talking about testing whether the dough is properly proofed, that doesn’t apply at all. Just follow the recipe, and watch the video, and you’ll be fine!

  • Mary
    March 31, 2021 at 12:19 PM

    slight error in the recipe, perhaps?
    for the glaze: 1-2 teaspoons milk… BUT
    shouldn’t it be tablespoons, since that is what’s in the instructions?
    your recipes are amazing, thanks for all you do!!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 31, 2021 at 12:23 PM

      Hi, Mary, thanks so much for pointing that out! The ingredients list is actually correct. It was an error in the instructions, and I just fixed it. So sorry for the trouble!

  • Maureen
    March 29, 2021 at 11:17 AM

    Hi Nicole. I’m looking forward to making these for Easter brunch! Can I make these the day before? Or can they rise overnight to be finished in the morning? Thanks so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 29, 2021 at 12:06 PM

      Hi, Maureen, I’m afraid I haven’t had a lot of luck with letting shaped breads rise overnight in the refrigerator. They tend to rise more unevenly in the oven after a long shaped rise. I’d recommend making the dough ahead of time, then letting it come to room temperature as early in the day as you like. Then, shape it, let it rise and bake the day-of.

  • Susan K Beck
    March 21, 2021 at 10:06 AM

    Hello, Just wondering if you have a recipe for a hot cross bun loaf–something a little easier than individual buns? Many thanks! Sue

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 21, 2021 at 10:32 AM

      I’m afraid not, Susan, but I do have a recipe for “hot cross bun muffins” that doesn’t have the texture, precisely, of yeast bread, but does have the flavors and the ease of a muffin. Here’s a link to that recipe, if you’re interested.

  • Mary Catherine Duffy
    March 19, 2021 at 6:15 PM

    I am going to make these for Holy week. If I had to say what missed the most it would be hot cross buns. I’m from Scotland but lived in the States for 12 year. I could buy GF hot cross buns there.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 20, 2021 at 10:55 AM

      I’m so glad this recipe will bring back hot cross buns for you, Mary Catherine!

  • Cecile
    March 19, 2021 at 5:26 PM

    I love your recipes. I always have to bake for longer than indicated. Do you use a convention oven? Just curious what I’m doing wrong. Thanks!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 19, 2021 at 5:55 PM

      Hi, Cecile, I never use a convection oven when developing recipes, no. Most ovens are out of calibration (mine included), so I always recommend using a free-standing oven thermometer and replacing it regularly (they’re very inexpensive). Other than that, if you’re measuring by volume, instead of by weight, your measurements may be off, which affects moisture balance, and ultimately baking time. But my best guess is your oven calibration.

  • Sarah
    April 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    These are fantastic and worked well when made vegan! I don’t know what I would do without your recipes

  • Maggie
    April 5, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    My son and I made these today and they are AWESOME!!!! The cherry infused cranberries worked really well with this recipe. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My son, of course, says we now have to make sure we dry some of our currants this year ;) .

  • Maggie
    April 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Can’t find dried currants ANYWHERE…..so I picked up some cherry infused cranberries. I have a currant bush but didn’t think to dry any last year….lol. I made them all into syrup.

    • April 3, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      A currant bush, Maggie! Now that sounds like an excellent investment. I love currants in all kinds of savory foods. Put them in cooked quinoa! They’re so good. Cherry infused cranberries sound lovely, though. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Tracey Gonneau on Facebook
    April 3, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Hot Cross Buns, if you have no daughters, give them to your sons. This is on my todo list for Friday, G d willing, for Sunday Brunch. One a penny, two a penny…

  • pk
    April 3, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Nicole, how adorable. I’ve never eaten nor seen a “hot crossed bun”, only heard the term in childhood. Was this common Easter fare in the past? Anyway, what else (if anything) is commonly substituted for currants or are they ONLY made with this fruit?

  • Dee Dee
    April 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    These look delicious! Im recently gluten-free, and appreciate your recipes! Thanks!

  • April 3, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    I haven’t tried it, Melita Invitations, but I would suggest using 2 1/2 teaspoons guar gum in place of 1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum.

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