Can hot cross buns be made without raisins and candied citrus? Yes, they can. Pillowy, fragrant, sweet buns were what I was craving, and this recipe delivered all that. Furthermore, you can enjoy customizing your own buns by adding:
- carrots only
- carrots and walnuts
- carrots and apples
Finely grating the carrots provided colour, moisture, and a hint of texture with much less fuss than carrot puree. As for the other add-ins, I was trying to appease my children, who detest raisins in anything baked. But feel free to use golden raisins in place of the diced apple if you like; dried cherries would be nice too.
Orange icing ties everything together once the buns are out of the oven. I love the wonderfully bright and versatile citrus flavour it lends. Much better than candied citrus in my book. If you have any leftover orange icing, it could go onto a batch of Citrus Swirl Lemon Bars or Raspberry Almond Muffins.
Carrot Spice Hot Cross Buns
adapted from the fresh loaf
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons honey* or maple syrup
- 1 cup warm coconut milk or water (95 to 110 degrees F, or 35 to 40 C)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter* or oil, optional if using coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, optional
- 1/3 cup finely grated carrot
- 1/3 cup apple, coarsely grated, optional
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 egg*, beaten, optional, for egg wash
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
*these ingredients are not considered vegan
- Dissolve yeast in warm coconut milk or water. Add honey or maple syrup and melted butter (or oil). Stir in salt, followed by flour and spices. Knead until dough is smooth, gradually add small amounts of water if necessary. Add grated carrots and walnuts or apples and knead lightly until distributed throughout dough. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover bowl loosely and let rise until double.
- Punch down dough and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form pieces into round buns and place in a greased baking pan (9×13-inch). Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Let rise for 40 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Uncover dough and brush with egg wash, if using. Bake buns for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove buns from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare a thick frosting by whisking together orange juice and icing sugar. Use a snipped plastic bag or small spoon to draw crosses on each bun with the icing. (The most efficient way to decorate them is to draw lines across each row in the pan.) If possible serve frosted buns while still warm.