Sunday, 27 March 2016

Gluten-Free Files: Hot Cross Buns

Even though I don't celebrate Easter, I couldn't let it go by without trying to recreate my favourite part of it -- the hot cross buns. We used a recipe that Husband found online, but I can't find it again, and it's so heavily modified that there's probably no point in linking to it anyway!

We used the self-raising flour blend from Aldi, and Husband had the interesting idea of adding some banana bread mix. Hopefully this would give it more texture and flavour. The ratio was 2 parts SR flour to 1 part banana bread mix.

I only added a little sugar, just a couple of tablespoons, as I was also using dried fruit and choc bits, which will provide most of the sweetness. I added cocoa, and the spice is the St. Nicolaas Spice mix from Gew├╝rzhaus. It's one of my favourite shops! They have teas as well as herbs and spices. I'd like to do reviews of some of their products one day.

We added melted butter and warmed milk to the dry mix. We're using yeast as well as baking powder to hopefully give the buns extra rising power. The rising that normally happens in bread happens because of the stretching property in gluten. That's why gluten-free products are notorious for being flat and stodgy. According to our reading, baking powder is usually more effective, but we decided to try a combination of the two. The pre-mixed self-raising flour has xantham gum in it, which acts as a binding agent and also adds in some of the stretching property that the flour lacks.

Soon I'd like to try and make my own flour blend. Now that the weather is cooling down, it's time to start baking again and I'm feeling enthusiastic. All this new information I've learned about gluten-free baking is so complicated, though. I studied Home Economics in school right up until Year 10, and we never learned anything this complex!

Even though there's no point in kneading gluten-free bread, I had to -- just a little bit! -- for nostalgia's sake. Kneading activates the stretching properties of the gluten, allowing it to rise. Seeing as there's no gluten, there's no point in kneading. Where's the fun in that?

Here's an action shot of me piping the crosses onto the buns. Husband has a genuine 1970s piping kit; it's quite impressive. I think he put some cocoa into the paste, hence the brown colour.

Before baking. I put them in a tin so that hopefully the sides of the tin will encourage the buns to rise upwards instead of outwards (if they rise at all, that is....).

We didn't leave the buns to rise for very long, both because of the small amount of yeast, and impatience! They enlarged just a little bit, but better than nothing, I guess.

For some reason the glaze on them crystallised and turned white; that's why they have that funny white stuff on them. Nevertheless, they looked quite appealing. Husband made standard hot cross buns at the same time -- in the photo below, mine is on the left and his is on the right. The size difference is entirely due to the rising properties of his gluteny wheat flour.

For my first try at gluten-free baking, I think they turned out quite well. They're heavier in texture than normal buns, but not as bad as I thought they'd be. They're not dry or crumbly at all, as a lot of gluten-free products can be. I'm quite proud of that! They taste strongly of banana though! So if I use the banana bread mix again, I'll use less. I definitely want to keep experimenting with gluten-free baking.

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