My favourite Easter treats are Hot Cross Buns but the traditional recipes are filled with white flour and sugar, I've created a healthier option this Easter and made them even easier to bake. This recipe makes 8 Hot Cross Buns, but you can double it to get 16, triple it to get 24, etc.
Unfortunately, a lot of my photographs were corrupted when I exported them from my camera and I don't have pictures of the final stages of making the dough. I'm going to remake the recipe again today and edit the post with more photos as soon as possible. Enjoy!
For the buns:
1 packet of dry yeast
2 cups of Wholemeal Flour (use Atta Wholemeal if it's available, otherwise any wholemeal will do)
1/4 of a cup of Stevia (I recommend the Natvia brand, alternatively you can use sugar)
3/4 of a cup of Skim Milk
2 tablespoons of Canola Oil (Vegetable Oil is okay to use as a substitute)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 a cup of raisins, you can use more if you like
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon of mixed spice (all spice or nutmeg are okay to use as a substitute)
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
For the cross paste:
3 tablespoons of Wholemeal Flour
2 tablespoons of Water
1 teaspoon of Stevia (alternatively, you can use sugar)
For the glossy glaze:
1 tablespoon of hot water
1/2 a tablespoon
1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon
Okay, first, calm down. There may be a lot of ingredients but I promise these buns are easy to make, now continue..
Warm your milk (in the microwave or on the stove) until it's hot but not boiling (about 30 seconds in the microwave), add a tablespoon of the Stevia and the dry yeast, give it a gentle stir and cover it with cling wrap. Leave it to the side for 10 minutes. The warm milk will activate the yeast and speed up the rising time.
While you're leaving the yeast mix to activate, sift the flour into a separate bowl then add the remaining Stevia, cinnamon, all spice and salt. Mix them together until well combined.
After the 10 minutes is up for the yeast mixture, add it to your dry ingredients along with the oil, egg and raisins. Mix it well and cover the bowl (with cling wrap or a tea towel) and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.
When the 30 minutes is up, transfer the dough onto a clean counter top that's been sprinkled with a handful of flour. Kneed the dough gently until it's smooth. I recommend flouring your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers.
Separate the dough into 8 pieces. The easiest way is to roll it out into a 'sausage' shape, around 20-25cm long, slice it into 8 pieces and then roll it into flattened balls.
Use a little oil on the bottom of a baking tray to stop the buns from sticking and then place the buns into the tray so that the sides are just touching. Leave them to rise for about 10 minutes.
Now you need to make the paste for your crosses, my paste turned out a little too thin but I've altered the recipe so you'll have a thicker paste and more defined crosses.
Mix your flour, water and sugar in a bowl and then transfer it into a piping bag with a 1/2cm nozzle. Alternatively you can follow my lead and transfer it into a snap lock bag and then cut the corner into a 1/2 cm hole.
Pipe the crosses onto the buns.
Put them into the oven at 210*c (410*F) for 15-20 minutes.
While they're baking you can prepare your glaze. Mix the water, Stevia and cinnamon in a small bowl and bring it to boiling point either on the stove or in the microwave. This won't take long, just a few seconds.
When your buns are ready, remove them from the oven and brush them with the glaze. Your Hot Cross Buns will turn glossy and the crosses will stand out more.
Without Glaze/With Glaze
Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and you're all done!
The Hot Cross Bun fun doesn't stop here though, if you take out the raisins it's easy to adapt this recipe to make all kinds of hot cross buns. Try adding a shot of espresso and a handful of sugar-free chocolate chips to make Mocha Hot Cross Buns, or how about some diced dried apricots and a handful of coconut to make Apricot Delight Hot Cross Buns. You could add a 1/2 cup of grated pumpkin and a tablespoon of nutmeg to make Spicy Pumpkin Hot Cross Buns or you could use 1/2 a cup of dried cranberries and a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt to make Creamy Cranberry Hot Cross Buns. This recipe is very versatile and can easily be altered to suit all taste buds.
Why are these Hot Cross Buns better for you than others?
Wholemeal flour makes your feel fuller for longer and has a lower calorie value than processed white flour, it also doesn't spike your blood sugar levels like processed white flour does. Wholemeal flour also has more than double the amount of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and E, as well as folic acid, fiber, iron, zinc, copper and calcium than white flour does.
Stevia is a natural plant sweetener, you can read more about it HERE. They make these Hot Cross Buns sugar free but still sweet and delicious without any chemical sweeteners.