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One a penny, two a penny

In common with many Londoners, I am rather addicted to hot cross buns from Gail’s Artisan Bakery. Every year before Easter I restrain myself and buy only half a dozen, my husband and I scoff the lot and then I run out and buy some more.The Financial Times likes them too.

I have just discovered that Gail’s published their recipe online. My son had some blood tests recently, which indicated positive markers for coeliac condition, so he’s avoiding gluten. Which means no Gail’s hot cross buns. But wait! Could the recipe be adapted? The answer is yes! Here is my gluten free version.

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12


400g gluten free bread flour mix (I use Dove’s Farm)

1 packet dry active yeast

0.5 tsp ground cinnamon

0.5 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

200ml whole milk

70g caster sugar

2 eggs

70g unsalted butter, diced

40g sultanas

40g dry currants

40g dried unsweetened cranberries

70g mixed peel

0.5 tsp fine sea salt

Egg wash

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 tsp milk

Cross topping

200g gluten free flour

230g icing sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp milk – or more


300g caster sugar

200g water

1 whole nutmeg

1 whole star anise

1 whole clove

0.5 vanilla pod split in half lengthwise

Make the buns

Line a rectangular baking tin with baking parchment. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the spices and the dry yeast to blend. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Remove the mixture to a large bowl.

Add the milk, sugar and eggs. Whisk to blend.

Add the salt and fruits and mix until well combined.

Wet your hands and scoop up a good handful of dough – a bit smaller than a tennis ball? You’re aiming to make 12. Roll/pat into smooth round shapes and place them in the baking tin, evenly spaced to allow room to expand.

Cover the tray with oiled clingfilm and leave at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the buns grow to almost double in size. Their sides should be touching.

Make the eggwash

When the buns are ready, make an eggwash by whisking 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk and a teaspoon of milk. Brush the buns carefully with this eggwash and leave to dry out for 10 minutes. Brush again.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF.

Make the crosses

Using a hand whisk, gently combine all the ingredients into a smooth paste. Start with 3 tablespoons of milk, but add more if needed. You’re aiming for a pliable but not runny consistency.

Fill a plastic piping bag with the topping mixture and cut a small hole using scissors.

Pipe thin crosses on top of the buns on the tray and place in the oven.

Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350ºF and bake until golden (around 20 minutes).

Make the syrup

While the buns are cooking, put all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and over a low heat bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, increase the heat and simmer for couple of minutes until you have a syrupy consistency.

Remove from the heat and take the spices out.

Once the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and carefully brush them with the hot syrup.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

If you have no daughters, then give them to your sons… one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!

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