Hot Cross Buns

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It's that time of year again, the countdown to Easter where supermarkets are lined with chocolate eggs and hot cross buns fill the bakery aisle. Hot cross buns (let's call them HCBs...) were another of my childhood favourties. We used to come home from school, cut one in half and put it in the toaster and nibble on a second while we waited for the first to toast. Someone would always pick out all the raisins from the rest of the pack, causing many a squabble! Then, when the toaster popped, assuming you hadn't burnt it (which seemed to be a common occurrence), you would smother it in butter and savour every bite. It's funny how well I remember our HCB obsession, but I guess the excitement of them only being available in spring made them seem like the best thing since, well, sliced bread... I imagine you can probably get hold of them all year round but if you are looking for a healthier option then this is the recipe for you. These HCBs still manage to stay wonderfully squishy and toast perfectly (although I recommend leaving off the cross as it is more decorative that practical).

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Ingredients (makes 6-8 buns, depending on size)

115g of ground almonds

140g of buckwheat flour

90g of oats

150g of raisins

150g of dates

3 tablespoons of chia seeds

200ml of water

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

a pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 a teaspoon of ginger

25ml of oat, brown rice or almond milk (you can also use water)

For the top

100g of desiccated coconut

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 170c.

Place the chia seeds in a small bowl with the water, mixing well and then leave to one side so they form a gel.

Pit the dates and place them in a food processor. Add the oats, flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of salt and mix well until the dates have broken down completely. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the chia seeds, coconut oil (I melted it first to make it easier to mix in). If the mix is a little dry, add the milk too. Once everything is mixed well together, take a handful and roll it into a ball, the use your hands to pat the sides to shape it like a hot cross bun. Repeat until you have used all the mixture.

Place all of the buns on a baking tray and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning half way through.

While the buns cook, you can prepare the crosses. Put the coconut in your food processor until a paste forms.

Remove the tray from the oven and let the buns sit for a fe minutes. Use your hands to make a coconut cross on top of each bun, then brush a little maple syrup over the top to glaze.

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