You would expect someone of stable mind to be suffering from Hot Cross Bun fatigue after weeks of dining out, almost exclusively, on the bready Easter treat.*
But, no. Not this bunny.
Unfortunately, my current (currant?) food obsession means my wheat and dairy intolerant digestive system is not a happy rabbit.
But, I’m hooked. And until Easter passes, I’m afraid I simply will not be able to resist devouring as many sticky, spicy fruit buns as humanly possible.
So, I can either persevere until my intestines implode or I can hit the kitchen and start churning out my own wheat and dairy free buns (I reckon I’ll choose the latter option).
I’m looking forward to dusting off my recipe for Spelt Hot Cross Buns. It makes a large batch of fluffy buns and can be easily modified to include or exclude dairy (without sacrificing taste and texture either way).
Give them a go over the long weekend yourself! They are pretty easy to make (if you are organised enough to allow time for proving the dough) and nothing beats an Easter bun fresh out of the oven. Yum!
Makes: 16 buns
Timing: Allow up to three hours all up (includes proving and baking time)
I know it looks like a long list of ingredients, but it isn’t that scary. Honestly. A couple are optional (as indicated) and many are spices (I like a good mix of spice in my buns); which can be omitted if you prefer.
For the buns
* ½ cup currants
* ½ cup raisins
* juice of one orange
* pinch saffron (optional)
* splash brandy (optional)
* 2 tsp dried yeast
* 180ml milk (substitute for water or almond, rice, oat or soy milk for dairy-free buns)
* ¼ cup caster sugar
* 500g white spelt flour
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* ½ tsp cloves, ground
* ½ tsp nutmeg, grated
* ½ tsp ginger, ground
* ¼ tsp cardamom, ground (better yet, smash 3-4 cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle, removing the outer husks)
* pinch white pepper
* ½ tsp salt
* 60g butter, softened (substitute for ¼ cup macadamia nut oil or light olive oil for dairy-free buns)
* 3 eggs
* 2 tbsp maple syrup
* zest of one small orange
For the cross
* 3 tbsp white spelt flour
For the glaze
* 3 tbsp apricot jam
* boiling water
- Grease 2 round pie pans (or lightly dust baking trays with spelt flour) and set aside.
- Place the currants and raisins in a small bowl with the orange juice, saffron (if using) and brandy (if using). Top with a little hot water (so that the fruit is just covered, but fully immersed) and leave to soak for 10-30 minutes.
- Drain the fruit completely, then dust with a little of the spelt flour (this is to dry and separate the fruit so that it will suspend in the dough and not clump together while cooking). Set aside.
- Mix the yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and lukewarm milk (or water) in a bowl and stir to remove any lumps. Set aside for 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of your food mixer, combine the flour, spices, salt and the rest of the sugar.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and scatter over the dry ingredients. Rub the butter through the flour mix with your fingertips, or mix together in the food mixer, until well combined.
- Beat together the eggs. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten eggs, maple syrup and the yeast mixture.
- Mix together until well combined, by hand or using the paddle attachment on your food mixer. If needed, drizzle in a little more milk or water to make a soft dough – it shouldn’t look dry or tough.
- Knead the dough for 8 minutes by hand or for 5 minutes using the dough hook on your food mixer. Don’t worry too much about really working the dough as spelt doesn’t require as much kneading as wheat flour (in fact, it is best not to ‘over-knead’ it).
- Lightly grease another bowl. Place the dough into the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size – this should take about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Tip the dough out on to a lightly (spelt) floured work surface and lightly knead for a minute or so, then flatten it out and scatter over the drained fruit and orange zest. Briefly knead again to distribute the fruit and zest evenly throughout the dough.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and roll these into bun shapes.
- Place the buns into the greased pie pans (or onto floured baking trays). Place them close together, but leave a little room around each one for expansion.
- Cover and put in a warm place to prove again until doubled in size – about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan-forced).
- Mix the 3 tablespoons of spelt flour with enough cold water to make a stiff paste. Use a piping bag (with a small nozzle) or a teaspoon to draw a cross on the top of each (not too thick).
- Place into the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden.
- While they are baking, prepare the glaze. For the glaze, simply add a little boiling water to the apricot jam and stir until it is runny (but still a little thick).
- When the buns come out of the oven, brush them with the jam before transferring to a rack to cool slightly. But, don’t leave them too long before serving with lashings of butter (or dairy-free marg or honey or jam).
The change-up: If, like me, you prefer a spicy Hot Cross Bun, you can get away with almost doubling the amount of spices used in this recipe….it’s up to you!
Allergens: Contains gluten, eggs and yeast (dairy is optional).
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