Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!! Celebrate with me!!! Gluten-Free Cooking for Two has won two awards: named one of ten "Best Gluten-Free Cooking Books in 2017" by and won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards in the "Natural, Nutrition, Organic, Vegetarian" category.
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Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Well, it’s that time of year again. Just like we want Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick’s Day, we want Hot Cross Buns for Easter. For some people, it is a tradition and it simply isn’t Easter without them.  History suggests they were usually baked and eaten on Good Friday, but they are so good you may want to eat them throughout the year.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns from Carol Fenster

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns from Carol Fenster

Sharing a hot cross bun with someone else is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if you recite this poem while sharing:

Half for you and half for me, between us two shall goodwill be.




Hot Cross Buns

adapted from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Wiley, 2008)

A tradition at Easter, these delectable lightly-spiced buns can also be enjoyed year-round. The “cross” of frosting on each bun is supposed to ward off bad spirits.



3/4 cup warm (110°F) milk of choice

1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs (about 2/3 cup), at room temperature

1½ cups potato starch

1½ cups Carol’s Flour Blend (see below)

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon guar gum

¾ teaspoon table salt

¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice

1/8 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg

¼ cup unsalted butter or buttery spread, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

½ cup dried currants or cranberries

Brown rice flour for dusting

Egg Wash

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk of choice


¾ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk of choice

Drop of lemon extract (optional)

[1] Generously grease 11×7-inch nonstick (gray, not black) pan. Line with parchment paper leaving 2-inch overhang on two ends for easier removal.

[2] Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in warm milk and set aside to foam for 5 minutes.

[3] In large bowl of heavy-duty mixer, beat eggs on Medium speed until thick and foamy and then reduce speed to Low and add yeast-milk mixture and remaining sugar, potato starch, flour blend, xanthan gum, guar gum, salt, spices, melted butter, and vinegar. Beat in ingredients until blenced, then increase speed to medium and beat two minutes or until mixture is thoroughly combined and slightly thickened.

[4] Use 1 ½-inch metal spring-action ice cream scoop to measure 15 equal pieces of dough. Dust pieces of dough with rice flour and with very lightly oiled hands, gently shape each into round ball. Place balls very close together in prepared pan in 3 rows of 5 each for a total of 15 rolls. To make the egg wash, whisk together the egg and milk until very smooth, then brush it on the tops of the rolls. Cover lightly with foil (don’t let foil touch dough), and let rise in warm place (75°F to 85°F) until dough is just level with top of pan.

[5] Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are lightly browned, then brush rolls with egg wash again and bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 200°F when inserted into the center of a roll.

[6] Remove pan from oven and cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. To serve on a platter, use edges of parchment to lift rolls from pan (discard parchment) and cool another 10 minutes on wire rack then transfer to serving platter to cool completely.

[7] To make frosting, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and lemon extract (if using) until very smooth; it will be fairly thick. Transfer glaze to heavy-duty plastic food storage bag, cut 1/8-inch hole in one corner, and pipe an “x” or “cross” on each roll. These are best eaten on the same day they are made. Makes 15 rolls.

Carol’s  Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca starch/flour

Whisk together thoroughly and store tightly covered in a dark, dry place.

Carol’s Kitchen Notes

[1] Be sure to cool the buns completely before adding the frosting “cross,” or it will simply melt and slide off. The buns can be reheated in a Low microwave, but they are best eaten on the same day they are made.

[2] The reason that you tightly pack these buns into the pan is so they rise higher rather than spread out. But this also means that the sides of the buns don’t brown. I have tried it both ways and believe me, arranging them tightly in the pan works better for our soft gluten-free dough than trying to create individual buns that brown on all sides but would spread out too much while baking.

[3] The dough may seem impossibly soft, but dusting the balls with rice flour makes it easier to shape them with your hands into a smooth ball.

[4] My favorite place to let dough rise is my warming oven, which has a setting for this. You can also use your microwave oven: place 1 cup water in a glass Pyrex measuring cup heat on High for 1 minute. Leave water in the oven and place the pan of dough inside (no need to cover since it is a moist, airtight enclosure). The nice thing about using a microwave is that you can see the bread rising through the window.  Other places to let bread rise are the top of your dryer (while it is running, the metal heats up a little), or on a heating pad, but be sure to cover the bread with foil to avoid drying out. You can also use your regular oven by turning on the light which generates some heat, but don’t let the temperature rise above 85°F or you will dry out the crust and the buns won’t rise.

[5] The reason that I use both xanthan gum and guar gum is that there is a natural synergy between these two gums that produces a better texture. Gum experts (yes, there is such a specialty in the baking world!!!) verified this fact. If you can’t find guar gum in stores, order it from Bob’s Red Mill. If you prefer to use xanthan gum only, use 2 1/4 teaspoons.