This year the arrival of spring took me completely by surprise. Last week I was scurrying home in the dark after work, and dreaming of hearty winter stews. This week, there are buds on the trees, spring bulbs as far as the eye can see, and it’s not only still light when I leave the office – it’s sunny!
To top it all off, Easter has suddenly appeared on my horizon. And with it the promise of a long weekend of delicious treats..
I’m not religious so Easter isn’t as significant for me as it is for other people. And I’m not a big fan of Easter eggs (yawn), or worse still (I’m going to upset a lot of people now) Cadbury’s creme eggs!
But I do have a soft spot for tradition, and for me at Easter that means hot cross buns. The only problem is, it’s been a long time since I was last able to enjoy them. Since I’ve been gluten free some ‘free from’ versions have popped up in the supermarkets, but every time I’ve tried them I’ve been disappointed – they just don’t deliver on that deep, glazed stickiness, which to me is what hot cross buns are all about.
So this year I decided to try and bring hot cross buns back into my life. Well, sort of…
You see, one of the things I’ve come to realise with gluten free baking is that there are some things that gluten free flours can do beautifully, and other things that they just don’t want to do. Like creating feather-light squishy buns – which is fundamentally at odds with the basic properties of gluten free flour. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying you’ll have a battle on your hands!
And life’s too short to battle with buns. You know?
Instead, I’ve discovered that the secret to making gluten free flours work for me is finding recipes that play to their strengths, and where they can really shine. And one of my favourite recipes that falls into that category is the humble scone, whose crumbly shortness is the perfect match for gluten free flour.
Which is how instead of hot cross buns, this year I decided to bake these adorable little gluten free hot cross scones.
Basically, I took my favourite recipe for gluten free scones and gave it a hot cross bun makeover. The results ticked every sticky, indulgent hot cross bun craving I’ve ever had, while the scone base was rich and golden and moist. And get this – not only are they just as effective a butter-delivery-system as a hot cross bun. Even better, because they’re scones, you can legitimately throw on great spoonfuls of clotted cream and jam!
- 400g gluten free plain flour (I use Doves Farm)
- 70g caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 sachet of 7g fast action yeast
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 225ml whole milk
- 60g butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 100g sultanas
- 30g mixed peel
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 50g gluten free plain flour
- A little water
- 2 tbsp smooth apricot jam
- Place the flour into a large mixing bowl. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the sugar, xanthan gum and yeast on the other.
- Put the milk and the butter in a small saucepan and heat over a low heat until the butter has just melted.
- Pour the milk and butter mixture into the middle of the flour, along with the beaten egg. Stir with a fork to bring the ingredients together, then remove from the bowl and knead lightly with your hands until you have a smooth, well mixed dough.
- Put the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour - or until the dough has risen and doubled in size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a well floured work surface. Fold in the mixed peel, citrus zest, sultanas, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and knead the dough gently to combine. Then roll the dough into a long sausage, and divide into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on a large lined baking tray, making sure you leave a little room for them to spread. Cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for another hour. Towards the end of the proving time, preheat the oven to 200C.
- Make the paste for the crosses by mixing the flour with just enough water so that you can pipe with it. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe the crosses onto each bun.
- Pop the scones in the oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top.
- Melt the jam in a small saucepan, brush liberally over the top of each freshly cooked scone to glaze, and leave to cool on a wire cooling rack.