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Easter Baking: Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are small, sweet spiced buns that are traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. I love hot cross buns and although these days they are available to buy throughout the year, I like to save them for Easter so that I can enjoy them all the more.

This year, I don’t want to compromise on my clean-eating principles over Easter. So I decided to make my own hot cross buns with wholemeal flour and no refined white sugar.

How I made them

I activated the yeast in warm milk. The milk needs to be warm but not hot, it should be at a temperature that is pleasant to dip your (clean) finger into! I measured out my dry ingredients and then added the wet ingredients of warm milk, honey, egg and yeast (full recipe is at the end of this blog post).

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My mixture was very slightly too sticky so I added another couple of tablespoons of flour before tipping the dough out onto my lightly floured work surface. Once I’d kneaded the dough I left it to rise in the corner of my kitchen near to my oven which was on and therefore warm. If it’s not warm enough in your kitchen, then the airing cupboard or near a radiator would do the job. Wholemeal flour can’t be rushed and it needs more time to rise than white flour. My dough took nearly an hour and a half to almost double in size. Don’t rush this process or you’ll end up with buns as heavy as stones!

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The wholemeal dough before it had risen

Once it had risen enough, I kneaded the dough again lightly and then shaped it into 8 buns. I left these buns to rise again. This second proving step is important, don’t skip it as wholemeal flour needs all the help it can get when you are trying to lighten it up.

Traditionally the crosses on top of the buns are made with white flour but I have a strict rule that none of the recipes on the website can use processed ingredients, so I needed to find an alternative. I had originally planned to make the crosses out of coconut flour but I quickly realised this wasn’t going to work – the flour doesn’t have any gluten and it just crumbled away when I tried to shape it. In the end, I made the crosses out of wholemeal flour. It wasn’t as pleasing to the eye and didn’t look as I’d hoped, but hey ho, these are the sacrifices we have to make sometimes ….

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I baked the buns in the oven for just over 20 mins. I put a pan of boiling water in the oven underneath the buns and this gave the buns a fantastically crispy exterior.

The verdict

I always ignore what my Mother told me – which was to never eat baked goods when they are hot straight from the oven. I think it’s meant to give you indigestion or something. Anyway, these buns are AMAZING eaten while they are still hot, with lashings of melted butter and a drizzle of honey.

It’s Easter, go on, treat yourselves!

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See the full recipe for Clean Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns with Apple

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