Hot Cross Buns

It goes against my grain to adapt recipes for vegans / coeliacs / food intolerances in general. Not cause I dislike my friends who eat in special ways, but because I find most substitutes are either highly manufactured alternatives (i.e. Nuttalex, Melrose Spread, non-eggwhite etc) or something that alters the texture or taste.  There are a couple of things I can’t eat, but instead of hunting around looking for manufactured alternatives that are “similar” to the item, I just eat other things.


BUT … on contemplating my Hot Cross Bun recipe last year, I realised I could make just a couple of changes to make a vegan version for the guys at work who tend to miss out on my baking.  I tried it – and it was good.  So here it is, and my traditional recipe is over here.

Ironically, I started making my own buns some 20 years ago because I was a vegetarian and didn’t want to eat gelatine (which is used in traditional hot cross bun glazes).  Now I’m an ethical omnivore and have reverted to my traditional recipe. It is really delicious and quite simple. But here’s the vegan version for those others.

  • Hot Cross Buns – Vegan
    • 14 g instant dried yeast (two sachets) (or 30g fresh compressed yeast)
    • 500 g (4 cups) plain soft flour (not bread flour, just standard plain flour)
    • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
    • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 tablespoons orange flower water
    • 1 tablespoon neutral flavoured oil like canola
    • 100 g currants
    • 50 g mixed peel
    • 20g diced citron if available. (Cedron is variety of citrus and is sold as a glacé fruit.  It is the traditional flavouring for panettone so you will often find it in Italian delis.  I bought mine at Meditteranean Wholesalers 482 Sydney Road, Brunswick.)
    • some grated citrus rind (about 1 teaspoon)
    • 1 tsp salt salt
  • Paste for Crosses
    • 30 grams plain flour
    • ¼ tsp caster sugar
  • Glaze
    • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • squeeze lemon or lime juice

1. Place yeast, 2 teaspoons flour, 1 teaspoon caster sugar and 125 ml warm water (37°) in a bowl.  Mix to combine and leave in a warm place to get frothy.  (about 10 mins) (If the yeast doesn’t froth at this stage, it’s not active and you’ll have to get some fresh yeast before going any further).

Hot Cross Buns

Slices of cedron waiting to be sliced, frothy yeast mix on right

2. Mix spices with orange flower water and oil to form a paste.

Hot Cross Buns

Spice paste and fluffy yeast

3. Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached, stir in the sugar and add the fruit and peels.  Mix with dough hook for a few seconds to ensure fruit is coated with flour and all is distributed evenly.

3. Add the yeast and spice paste and start mixing again, adding up to 185 ml of warm water in splashes until you achieve a soft and sticky dough. Knead on low setting (2) for 5 mins or so until smooth.

Hot Cross Buns

4. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and tea towel and leave to rise in a warm space for an hour or so.

Hot Cross Buns

5. Turn dough out and knead until smooth – divide into 12 and roll into balls.  Place them 3 x 4 in a 19 cm x 23 cm baking tin or oven tray, lightly touching.  Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place till nearly doubled.

Hot Cross Buns

Vegan on left, traditional on right

6. Preheat oven to it’s hottest setting and make paste by mixing flour, sugar and 50ml water into a paste.  Make a piping tube from greaseproof paper and pipe crosses on buns.

Hot Cross Buns

7. Spray or flick inside of oven with water and immediately decrease temperature to 200ºC (195ºC fan-forced). Bake buns for 20 mins.

8. Remove from oven.  Make glaze by boiling water and sugar for 5 mins to make a syrup, then add squeeze of juice.  Brush glaze over hot buns.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Vegan buns on left and traditional ones on the right

The traditional buns are taller and slightly larger, probably due to the egg adding extra raising action.

Tips for success with buns:

Unlike baking cakes and biscuits, success with yeast recipes comes from “feel” and a bit of intuition.  A dough needs to be how it is described int he recipe eg soft and sticky in this one, for the final texture to be correct.  Yeast is a living organism and all batches of flour will absorb different amounts of liquid, so you really have to judge the effect of these variables and trust yourself.

Keep everything warm and if possible choose a humid day to bake.  If it’s neither – turn your oven on early and boil the kettle every now and then.

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