Happy Easter everybody! I am particularly glad that Easter is so early this year because, as of today, I am on ‘study break’ from university (which I’m sure will not last nearly long enough). We only get a week off, but I have been so exhausted recently that I am relishing the opportunity to sleep in and not have to get up for 9am classes. Once I’m awake, and on the bus heading in to uni, I don’t much mind the early hour. But getting out of bed in the first place, well, that’s another matter altogether. Let’s just say that I’m not a morning person.
Easter, of course, brings with it all sorts of yummy foods. There’s Easter eggs, in all their various flavours, chocolate bunnies, and (because we’re Australian) chocolate bilbies. But by far my favourite Easter treat is the hot cross bun. That perfect mix of dried fruits, spices, soft doughy bread and sweet, sticky glaze… Whether you eat them toasted, with butter, jam, or–my personal favourite–peanut butter, they’re absolutely delicious.
Unfortunately, I am yet to find a commercially available gluten free hot cross bun that is not a disappointment. Often the flavour is all wrong because strange flours have been used, or, if the flavours are good, the texture is wrong: rather than being doughy and bread-like, the buns have a texture resembling an old dish sponge. Gross. But today I’m setting out to fix that. As I’ve said many times before, I don’t like baking with yeast. I have no skill when it comes to bread doughs. So I decided to avoid that altogether and just make a hot cross bun-inspired soda bread. No yeast, no proofing, no arduous kneading–so simple.
The only thing about this recipe is that it’s not very sweet. I’m not a fan of overly-sweet things, so this suited me fine. However, if the gluten-free flour blend you’re using has a slightly strange flavour to it (as is sometimes the case with the gluten-free flours), or you prefer something a little sweeter, you could add a tablespoon of molasses to the dough to up the sweetness a bit (add this at the same time as the milk and fold it through the dough). You could also make a sugar cross for the top of the bread by mixing some icing sugar with a little bit of milk to form a thick paste. That would give you a more traditional hot cross bun effect.
I would encourage you to give this bread a try. It’s very nice sliced and toasted, spread with jam or peanut butter, or really just eaten as-is as a snack. If you do try it, leave me a comment below and let me know how it turned out. I hope you all have a great Easter! Happy baking!
Hot Cross Bun Loaf
makes 1 small loaf
300g gluten-free plain flour
2 tbsp dried currants or raisins
2 tbsp finely chopped dried apricots
2tsp finely grated orange zest
1tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
260ml milk (lactose-free is fine)
- Preheat oven to 200ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, bicarb, citrus zest, spices and dried fruits. Stir well to combine.
- Slowly pour in milk, stirring to scrape up all the flour mixture from the sides of the bowl, until a dough forms. Use your hands to scrape up all the dough, and give it a quick knead in the bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet. Using wet hands, shape the dough into a circle, smoothing down the rough surface. Cut a cross in the top of the loaf, and put into the oven to bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with butter and jam.
Keeping time: this loaf is best eaten the day it is made. However it can be toasted and eaten the next day if desired.