So, naturally, when the kids started asking for Hot Cross Buns, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Developing the first required many, many, failures. But, I hoped that I could figure it out.
Luckily, the first batch was a home run.
Moist. Tender. Not too dense. Rich with spice. Studded with fruit.
Yep. That'll do.
Caveat: what you think is a hot cross bun and what I have here may not be the same. I apologize to the purists in advance. However, if you just have to call this a spiced fruity sweet roll, that's okay with me.
It's weird... but it's okay.
I embrace weird.
I embody weird.
Hot Cross (spiced fruity) Buns
1 C non-dairy milk (I used almond, original)
1/2 C sugar
2 TBSP yeast
2 TBSP ground golden flax
1/4 cup water
(or two eggs, if you don't need this substitution)
The zest of 2 oranges, plus the juice of one.
3 1/2 C Gluten Free APF (As usual, I used Pamela's)
1/4 cup of applesauce or oil
2 TBSP cinnamon (preferred: Penzey's Vietnamese)
1tsp nutmeg (c'mon you can grind it!)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup of craisins (or dried fruit of your liking) soaked in enough hot water to cover.
Cream Cheese Icing*
(dairy free version below)
Microwave/warm the milk for about 45 seconds, or until it's no longer cold, but not too hot to touch.
Think - baby bottle.
To the warm milk, add your yeast and sugar. Set aside and let it do its frothy thing.
In a separate dish, mix together the flax and the water to create "flax eggs." It's just a slurry, really. But that will need to have a chance to set up, too. Set that aside.
Out of counter space yet? Hang in there.
Add the flour, zest, applesauce/oil, and spices to the bowl of a stand mixer.
You'll want a paddle for this, not a dough hook. Dough hooks are great for gluten-y bread,
but not for this. It will be like a thick muffin batter.
Pour the milk in, which should have a thick, foamy head by now. Scoop your flax slurry into the bowl while you're at it.
Turn it on. Ease up to about medium speed and let it run until it's nice and airy.
It takes about three minutes for this kind of dough.
This is our "kneading" in the gluten free baking world.
Drain your dried fruit and toss that into the bowl when it's about finished.
It can handle the beating, I promise.
Coat the inside of a bowl with baking spray or oil. Scrap the dough out into the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place. Mine took about an hour to fluff up.
It will be sticky, so you will need some tools of the trade. As always, I use a sheet pan with a Silpat. If you don't have a Silpat, a sheet of parchment will be fine. If you don't have parchment, I think a stoneware pan would do. If you don't have any of these... get creative! I have faith in you.
Another helpful tool is a portion scoop. You really can't roll gluten free dough by hand (if you can, it'll be tough and too dense in the end). So, using something like this helps to keep it from getting everywhere.
Ready to roll?
On a silpat-lined baking sheet, scoop out mounds of dough. I let mine touch each other on the edges because I love that little smooshy bit of dough where they fused together while baking.
I'm not a fan of edges.
My pan had 28 little dough balls. Yours may have more or less, depending on the size of your scoop.
With wet hands, come back and smooth out the tops a little.
You don't have to, but I wanted it to be pretty for you.
Brush the tops with your non-dairy milk of choice.
Now... here's another little trick I learned last year. Take a 9x13 pan (like a brownie pan) and fill it halfway with water. Place it on your bottom rack in the oven.
Then preheat the oven to 400°
It's kind of like a bain-marie, or a proofing box, for the dough.
Once the oven is pre-heated, slide the pan into the oven on the rack above the water.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
While cooling, prep (or open!? Gasp!) your frosting.
Since cream cheese frosting has always been my favorite, I had to find some way to replicate it.
We've been playing with soaked raw cashews, a favorite of the raw food world. And now I know why.
You can find raw cashews all over the internet, at your local Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods.
For the best results, soak them in the fridge overnight. I don't always have time, though, and I've gotten good results out of them unsoaked (just don't tell the raw foodies!).
Also, if you don't have access to the new So Delicious Greek Style Yogurt, I'm sorry. If you have a coconut allergy like one of my friends, just go ahead and substitute any other vanilla yogurt you like.
I recently found an almond one that was very good, too.
Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Cup of Raw Cashews (soaked, if possible, then drained)
The juice of one lemon (yep, juice a fresh one here. You must.)
1 tsp gluten free vanilla
A bag of powdered sugar
In a high speed blender, puree the cashews with the yogurt, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth.
From this point, you can switch to your stand mixer or do it by hand, with a whisk.
Start adding powdered sugar until you get the right consistency for the job.
(I make it quite a bit thinner for a glaze, and much thicker to frost cupcakes.)
This time I needed about two cups. If it looks too runny, add more. Nothing scientific about this one.
If it gets too thick, a splash of almond milk will loosen it back up.
Easy. I promise.
Have your hot cross buns all nice and cool now?
If you don't have a decorator gun, or a piping bag set, there's a quick solution. Just grab a ziplock bag. Any size will do.
Scoop about a cup of your frosting into the bag.
Snip off the corner (start off very small - this will come out quickly - about the size of a drinking straw)
Pipe one line across the length of the whole pan, then one across the width. Repeat until you have a cross pattern on each of them.
Hope you enjoy!