Gluten-free, dairy-free and refined-sugar free! I have used brown rice flour and coconut sugar to keep these buns low GI and as wholesome as possible. Apart from family coming together, Hot Cross Buns are my next favourite thing about Easter! I love all kinds, but the choc-chip variety are my favourite. Why just have chocolate on Easter when you can have chocolate and sweet bread together? In this case, I have used carob as I love its malty flavour and after using it alongside chai tea in my date and walnut loaf (see previous posts), I can’t stop using chai and carob together! You could easily swap the carob for dark chocolate in these buns as well (I’ll try this in my next batch). The carob/chocolate melts through the soft bun when heated, the chai tea adds subtle warmth and spice, and when smeared with some organic butter, these are just divine! Gluten free baking takes a little bit of science experimentation. I did lots of research about how to ‘replicate’ or ‘mimic’ the gluten in gluten free baking to create a similar texture to regular baking with wheat. You may need to visit your local health food store for a few of these ingredients that help to thicken and bind the dough. Totally worth it when it means not missing out on this Easter treat because you can't have gluten. Enjoy with a steaming hot cup of tea!

Author: Krystle Manning

Makes 8 buns

Buns:

  • 2 tsp. baker’s yeast
  • 1 tsp. coconut sugar
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ¼ cup psyllium husk
  • 1 tsp. xanthum gum
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 cup boiling hot chai tea (1 tbsp. Prana Chai and 250mL water)
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 80g block of carob ‘chocolate’ (I use ‘The Carob Kitchen’ – this can be replaced with dark chocolate)

Crosses:

  • 4 tbsp. brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp. tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 2 ½ tbsp. water
  • 1 egg, to brush on tops

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp. brewed chai tea
  • 2 tbsp. raw honey

Method:

  1. Boil a full kettle of water. Fill a medium-large bowl with boiling water and place it in the bottom of the oven and turn the oven light on. If you don’t have an oven light, simply turn your oven onto the lowest possible heat. This will create a warm environment for the buns to rise before baking them.
  2. Brew 1 ½ cups of chai tea buy combining 1 heaped tbsp. of Prana Chai or chai tea of choice to 275 (1 ½ cups) boiling water in a saucepan. Keep the saucepan on the stove on the lowest heat to keep hot. Strain and return to saucepan after 3 minutes.
  3. Mix the yeast, coconut sugar and cols water together in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Whisk the psyllium husk, xanthum gum, eggs and 1 cup of the hot chai tea together in a medium bowl and set aside to thicken. Note: The rest of the chai tea will be used in the glaze.
  5. Add the tapioca flour, brown rice flour, salt, coconut sugar, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, baking powder and soda to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  6. Add the yeast mix and egg mix (two smaller bowls) to the large bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine. This will require a bit of arm strength as the mix will be very thick.
  7. Roughly chop the carob into ‘choc chip’ sized pieces and fold it through the dough.
  8. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and with floured hands gently press it into a even rectangular shape that can be cut into even pieces.
  9. Cut it into eight even pieces and shape each into a ball. Place onto a flat baking tray lined with baking paper. Leave a little space between each bun (about 1cm). Place in the ‘just warm’ oven and leave them to rise until they’ve almost doubled in size.
  10. Meanwhile, make the cross mixture and glaze.
  11. For the crosses, simply mix all ingredients together and put into a piping bag of clip seal bag with a tiny bit of the corner cut off.
  12. For the glaze, add the tea and honey to a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool and thicken.
  13. Once the buns have risen, remove them from the oven with the bowl of water and heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (180 degree fan forced).
  14. Pipe crosses onto the top and then gently brush the beaten egg onto the tops. Once the oven has completely heated, place the buns back in and allow to bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
  15. Remove the buns from the oven and immediately brush with the chai glaze. Serve hot with a smear of organic butter. Enjoy!

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