Hot Cross Buns

Easters around the corner and nothing says Easter, quite like chocolate and the warmth of hot cross buns. Whether you’re just celebrating the opportunity for a long weekend, or choosing to spend it with family, there’s no denying that hot cross buns are saturating stores everywhere, and we’re all for it.

We’re not religious over here, even though my family is, and I was brought up as a Christian so I can appreciate the religious traditions, but for me, it’s all about the chocolate. Chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, hot cross buns, marshmallow eggs, all of it, send it in bulk and watch it disappear into my tummy. Having a sweet tooth though, you’d expect me to lean towards the chocolate bunnies and eggs during this wonderful time, but I don’t. I tend to collect them and eat them slowly throughout the year. However, I don’t quite have that same level of restraint with hot cross buns, their subtle cinnamon flavour lures me in and just tugs at my heartstrings – it’s a little signal that winter is on its way. I’m not the biggest fan of raisins, or currents for that matter so we substituted some dried cranberries instead. They provide the same sweetness you look for from a raisin but don’t have the same texture, which is why I think I dislike them.

Hot cross buns weren’t only served over Easter weekend in our house though, they got served the week before, as stores began leading up to the Easter weekend, and weeks after, and surprisingly enough, I never tire of them. I’d toast them and add a little butter, or for something sweeter I would add some raspberry preserve.

This week Easter, however, we created our own recipe. Free from any processed sugars and animal products we were able to create hot cross buns just the way we like them. Using dried cranberries instead of raisins and with the wonderful addition of orange zest to the sugar, this recipe is an amazing take on an old tradition while still keeping the nostalgic spicy flavours we’ve all come to love over this period. If you have a great flavour foundation you can create any variant you’d like. We added some dark chocolate to ours but feel free to play around with some flavour combinations. A few we’d definitely like to try in future is creating a rooibos and orange peel variant as well as trying out a more decadent version with salted caramel and chocolate.

Whatever way you choose to spend your Easter weekend you know doubt have hot cross buns on your shopping list, so why not try making your own this year and impress all your loved ones with your incredible skills. Having the freedom to choose your own flavours adds that perfect personal touch and can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. These are perfectly sweetened with a sugar glaze on the outside, heavenly soft and fluffy on the inside and completely vegan. We hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend and fill your days with chocolate eggs and our vegan hot cross buns!

Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup + 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 14g Instant Dried Yeast
  • 1/4 cup Unrefined Castor Sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Orange, zested
  • 4 cups Strong Bread Flour
  • 1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1tsp Sea Salt
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1tsp Mixed Spice (Nomu Baking Spice)
  • 120g Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

To make the crosses

  • 6tbsp Flour
  • 5-6tbsp Water

For the Glaze

  • 1/4 cup Caster Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan heat your 1 cup of almond milk until just lukewarm, be careful not to let it get too hot as this will kill the yeast you’re about to add.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine your lukewarm milk and whisk in the instant dry yeats. Set aside to froth and activate. This should take about 10minutes.
  3. In a separate, smaller mixing bowl add your caster sugar and orange zest, if you don’t have oranges feel free to use naartjies – these might be harder to grate though. Using your fingertips work the orange zest into the sugar, it should start to become incredibly fragrant and orange (like the photo above).
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, salt, spices and orange sugar and beat until combined. Make a well in the centre using your hands and add your melted coconut oil, chickpea flour and remaining 1/4 cup almond milk.
  5. If you do have a standing mixer, use the dough attachment, if not use a fork and some elbow grease, start combining the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, working from the centre outward until the mixture forms a dough. Once you can see a dough beginning to form, transfer to a floured, clean surface and begin working the dough for 10 minutes or until it starts becoming smooth and elastic, the dough should spring back when you poke it. It’s normal for the dough to be slightly sticky, but if you find it too sticky, add a little flour, small amounts at a time.
  6. Start working on your chopped chocolate and dried cranberries and knead for a further few minutes. You don’t want to over knead as this will start melting the chocolate. Gather the dough and place in a lightly oil bowl, cover with a damp dishcloth and place in a warm spot –  we heated the oven up on 80 degrees for a few minutes, switched it off and placed the dough there to rise, we know it’s getting chillier in Cape Town at the moment so leaving to stand on the countertop just won’t do. Leave to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius and lightly oil a large baking tray, round shallow skillet.
  8. Once your dough has doubled, use your fists to knock the dough back, then divide into 9-12 equal sized pieces, rolling them into tight round balls. Arrange them in your baking dish in a concentric circle, we placed them quite close together in order for them to rise upward, instead of sideways.
  9. Cover them with the same damp dishcloth and place back in a warm spot for 30min to rise again.
  10. To make the paste for your cross, combine the water and flour together in a small bowl and transfer to a piping bag. Remove the buns from their warm spot and pipe whatever shapes you’d like, we went for noughts and crosses. Once you’re done piping place the buns in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes.
  11. While your buns are baking, create your glaze by combining all ingredients in a small pot, bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer to dissolve the sugar, stirring continuously. Once the sugars dissolved, remove from the pan from the heat.
  12. Once the buns are done baking, the proper thing to do would be to generously brush the glaze over the buns, but we found it easier to just pour the glaze over them, allow the buns to absorb all that sugary goodness. Once you’ve glazed them, transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  13. They’re best eaten fresh, with a generous helping of some vegan butter.
  14. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Whenever working with yeast, or making bread it’s best to work in a warm environment, it allows the dough to remain workable and prevent it from seizing up. Before kneading, rub your hands together to warm them to help the process along.
  • These buns are best eaten the same day as making them. But can be frozen immediately after you’ve let them cool, simply let them thaw or warm them in the oven just before serving.