Monday, 17 March 2008

Hot Cross Buns (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

I’m going to come right out and say it; Easter annoys me. There are a few reasons for this. I know I've gone on about Easter before,; but I just cannot get my head round the sequence of events. Which day did Jesus do what? Was it bad Mary, good Mary or some other Mary at the foot of the Cross? And when are we allowed to eat our eggs?

I also get annoyed with Easter’s caprices. Why can’t there be a fixed date for Easter? All this drifting around the calendar plays havoc with my holiday planning (not to mention my blog cooking) and smacks of spoilt princess,
‘Look at me! I’m not fixed like Christmas, no I’m Easter, I shall do as I please and you will just have to fit in. And I now magnanimously declare Lent to be over; you may go ahead and eat chocolate/drink beer/bathe in champagne/etc'. Yes, Easter puts me in a bad mood.

Then there’s the whole Easter food thing. I’d never heard of a meringue nest until I met my Mother-in-Law; has my family been doing it wrong all these years? If Hot Cross Buns are for Good Friday (apparently), how come Sainsbury’s are selling them just as soon as they’ve cleared the shelves of Valentine’s stuff? The significance of the gold bunnies escapes me, and egg blowing? I have five words for you: Four kids, egg allergy, mess. It’s just not going to happen under my roof.

Then there’s the chocolate. I’ll let you into a little secret; people don’t mistake me for Kate Moss. My legs would give one of the taller Seven Dwarves a run for their money, and in a dim light you might mistake me for a Comice pear. The bulges from Christmas have barely diminished before, Behold! Here’s the Easter Bunny dressed in Green and Black. You know if she wore Cadbury one season I might not be that fussed, but Green and Black? I’ve got her clothes off quicker than you can say ‘chocolate orgasm’.

So, Easter arrives, and bang go the vestiges of my self control. In addition, the children are suddenly besieged with chocolate offerings. When the big day arrives there are four children rejoicing in the chocolate from heaven. Of course that’s very sweet, I like watching them happy, and I bought most of the chocolate anyway. Yet when the rejoicing has abated, the problems kick in.

As any good Mother would, on Easter Day (that's when you're supposed to eat them, right?) I allow them chocolate before breakfast, possibly some at lunch and a bit at tea. Then I – and the children – realise that we still have enough chocolate left to melt down and create our very own Niagara. They will be eating chocolate for weeks to come. They will be asking every single day, at least three times a day, for their Easter chocolate. What have I done?

They know they can wear me down. They approach me when I am thoroughly distracted; on the phone or sending a text. Or when I am immersed deep in a blissful bath. They come in their hordes and ask for chocolate.
‘I can get it Mummy, I know where you’ve hidden it’ says the eldest helpfully. Sometimes I give in. Sometimes I don’t, and then all the door-slamming, whining, tantruming powers of four children going chocolate cold turkey are unleashed upon me. It is a terrifying position to be in.

However, I have resolved that this year, it’s going to be different. They will receive their chocolate as usual, and then I am going to indulge in a little free fall parenting; I am going to let them decide for themselves how best to dispose of their chocolate. I shall give a brief lecture on the perils of over-indulgence, and will kindly but firmly insist they are responsbile for cleaning up their own chocolate-induced vomit. I shall ask them to stash their chocolate in a mouse-proof receptacle, and to please not eat in bed. Lastly I shall insist that if they are going to gorge themselves ten minutes before I serve a healthy tea; they must not tell me. I am going with the ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ approach.

I reckon their Easter stash is going to last three days, tops. It will all be over and done with in a sickly flash and I won’t have protracted chocolate negotiations that last well into July. I’m feeling quietly smug about this plan. I’m also feeling rather smug about my Hot Cross Buns. I give you my full permission to eat them whenever the hell you want and Easter be damned. Hmmm, I do hope I’m not storing up godly wrath for judgement day with that last remark. Maybe I could bribe my way past St Pete with a plateful of steaming buns?

Happy Easter!

Hot Cross Buns (Makes 6/7 buns)
If you are scrabbling around for decent allergy chocolate; help is at hand. The chocolate eggs in the picture are Whizzers' Speckled Eggs (no dairy, no wheat, no gluten) and should be available from all good healthfood shops. Failing that, they are available from Goodness Direct, or the super Dietary Needs Direct, who have also got lots of other fab, Eastery, chocolatey type products available. Get shopping!

For the buns:
150g cornflour / cornstarch
100g brown rice flour
1.5tsp dried yeast
0.5 tsp xanthan gum
2.5tbsp sugar
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
0.25tsp ground cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon (perhaps a bit less according to taste)
zest of 1 orange (ditto)
50g dairy free spread
225ml tepid water
100g raisins

For the Cross (optional)
4tbsps brown rice flour
1.5tsps cornflour
a pinch of xanthan gum
1.5tbsps sugar
enough water to make an iceable paste (approx 60ml?)

For the glaze (again, optional)
3-4 tbsps golden syrup
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment
  • In a large mixing bowl place the flours, yeast, xanthan gum, spices, sugar, salt and grated zest of the orange and lemon. Mix around with a mini whisk
  • Now to adding the water. Start by adding 180ml or so, mix it in a bit, then gradually add the rest. The mix should have the consistency of a cake mix. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix until the water is incorporated. Then beat like mad until the dairy free spread has blended in, and any lumps in the flour have gone. Any stubborn lumps can be squidged between your (clean) fingers
  • Add the raisins, and stir them in. Scrape any mix down from the sides of the bowl, then place the bowl in a warm place and leave for approximately 10 minutes. The mix will not really grow, it sort of bulks up a bit
  • Whilst the dough is proving, make the paste for the cross (if using). Put the flours, sugar and xanthan gum into a small bowl, and gradually add water - whilst whisking - until you have a smooth paste you can pipe onto your rolls
  • There goes the timer, so carefully place large spoonfuls of the dough mix onto the baking tray. Try and give your rolls as much height as possible by sort of folding the dough back onto itself as it drops off the spoon. Yes, that's very clear isn't it? Well I thought it was fairly clear, but do ask for clarification if you have no idea what I mean
  • When you have your rolls lined up on your baking tray, dollop your cross paste into an icing bag and pipe a cross onto the buns, don't press down on the buns, we want to keep them enhanced; think Jordan rather than Victoria
  • Leave the buns to prove in a warm place for another five minutes, then place them into the oven
  • Check them anxiously after about 10 minutes, then leave them for another 5 minutes or so until the tops are golden brown, and they sound hollow when tapped on the base
  • Remove the baking tray from the oven
  • If you're going down the glazed route (be warned, it does make the buns very sticky, but is most delicious if you gobble up a bun when it's still warm and the syrup dribbles over your lips leaving them sticky and shiny), briefly warm the golden syrup and brush it over the surface of your buns
  • Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and leave to cool
  • They are good warm with dairy free spread and jam, they are also good toasted. My lovely son proudly told me today - as I handed him an allergy friendly hot cross bun - that he made hot cross buns with egg and milk at school. 'But I might like yours more Mum' he added. He then boomed 'Delicious!' when he'd finished. The way to a small boy's heart is definitely through his tummy

© Pig in the Kitchen

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lowood6 said...

Hi PITK! OMG, I can't believe you've done the hot cross buns! After your success with the bread rolls I was hoping that you might, and was wanting to ask, though I didn't dare, but you've done it!!!
I think your plan this year is brilliant - parents can't be there for ever they'll have to work it out for themselves...and you'd be saving so much trouble...4 kids asking for chocolates I can't imagine what it's like!
We'll have just a little bit of chocolate this year due to the cost of allergen-free chocolates (at least in Australia it's expensive and only from special stores - is it affordable in UK/France?).
Happy Easter!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Dear sweet lowood6, yes! i've done it! you should feel very free to hassle me whenever you want, although bear in mind i'm working from a limited skill set ;-) Glad you agree with my chocolate plan; i was browsing for suitable storage containers for my darlings today. Allergen-free choc can be expensive here, particularly fancy stuff,(for special occasions) I find a lot of the cost is in the postage though; specialist choc is not readily available in the shops. However, my littlest can eat regular dark chocolate (from supermarkets) as she can tolerate soya lecithin, and I just go 'la la la' when I read the 'may contain traces of...' part. Thank goodness my epipen is always to hand.
Happy Easter back at you!

Potty Mummy said...

Hi Pig, they look and sound delicious as ever. Must admit I also do the 'la la la' thing with the 'traces of' disclaimer. Glad to hear it's not just me...

Lisa said...


You put a much needed smile on my face. Thank you for that :) And oh yeah, Happy Easter!

Grit said...

Excellent recipe, thank you, and with a few non-commitment days coming up, it is time to roll up sleeves and get Shark to do some cooking.

Brom said...

Sod the chocolate! - I get 4 days of getting up when I want to (not that late at all, but it's on my agenda) and an hour or so of calm downstairs with a mug of tea and whatever I feel like - blogging or maybe Metallica.

Have a happy one.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Pig, there's nowt wrong with a bit of what they fancy when they fancy -if they make themselves sick this time they won't be in such a hurry to gorge in future.

And when it's goen, it's gone.

I can eat an Easter egg (and whatever is inside it) very very quickly, all by myself.

Mya said...

Bonnes Paques Pig,
Gorgeous buns. And love the menopausal seven dwarves. I heard a rumour the French Easter Bunny was on strike. I didn't even know bunnies got wonder the country is in such a mess.

Mya x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

PottyM, thank-you. I'm also relieved that you allow your son to have 'traces', there is a school of thought that this could 'desensitize' them to the allergen, isn't there? Personally not sure about that theory...

Lisa, glad I made you smile, you have a happy easter too...I'm so glad I don't have your gun in my house, there may be days when I'd be tempted to pull the trigger (like in your picture!), don't be doing that now will you??!!
And a Happy Easter to you ;-)

Grit, roll up those sleeves and get a-baking!

Brom, yey! up the slobbing around...not so sure about the Metallica, but one man's great music is another woman's notion of hell and all that. Merry Easter! (thought I'd ring the changes and write 'merry', i'm so out there)

M&M, exactly! I once gorged myself until I was sick on those little cocktail willy sausages...i don't think I've touched one since. I'm also rather adept at inhaling easter eggs.

Mya, and a happy Paques to you too. Is that damn bunny on strike again? Is it because its husband- to-be sent a text to his ex-wife just days before he and her were due to be hitched? Oh the shame. I hope you have a lovely Easter, what's with this Catholic country not awarding Good Friday as a public holiday??!!

Frog in the Field said...

An egggsellent post Pig, very, very funny.
You've shattered my mental image of your Jessica Rabbit silhouette, but I still love you!
I agree with all you've said, very sensible, clean up their own vomit, better get a bucket!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh dear FITF, Jessica Rabbit?! That sort of silhouette would cost me thousands. I'm glad you still love me, I'm not sure if I love myself; I've just been doing sit-ups to turn myself into Kate Moss ;-) - how very sensible on the eve of an Easter weekend! Good point about the buckets...
Happy Easter!

thenewstead6 said...

oh my word, that sounds JUST like this household! I have the same issue with chocolate and the kids at Easter - especially as (mean mum that I am) they rarely have it the other 364 days of the year (or 365 this year of course!). I've also decided to lay off the rules a bit - but they have a time frame. So they can have up to half an egg (and its insides) between breakfast and dinner and half after!

elizabethm said...

You don't want to be Kate Moss, silly idea. I love your image of Easter as a bit princessy. I get annoyed too by its moving about and by the fact that I can't be bothered to find out why. Love Hot Cross Buns though and am another big fan of not having to get up, you have to have no children or grown up ones for this particular pleasure.

Stay at home dad said...

Hmmm. I see what you mean but really any occasion that rejoices in chocolate intake cannot be allbad...

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hello! You've been busy!! I love Easter, any excuse to celebrate and eat chocolate, even when you have to lie flat on your back it can still be done. It's been a different one but atleast I was home. I'm afraid that at Easter and Christmas I go with the eat what you like when you like and if you throw up then I'll clear it up because I should have known better than to expect children of such an age to have any degree of restraint. Of course when they're older I shall introduce the 'you make yourself sick then you clear it up yourself' until then...

Thank goodness so far they've never been sick!

thenewstead6 said...

just a ps to say I made the buns today and they were lovely, thank you! It meant I had something to eat whilst everyone else pigged their chocolates (as I never got to the one shop selling dairy free, soya free chocolate in time...). Mine didn't brown like yours did - even after 25 minutes in the oven - but they still tasted lovely.

Marianne said...

Christmas and Easter are definitely good times to go into free fall parenting. Yes, it all does disappear in no time, but then it's done and dusted for another year.

Hope your easter went well PITK. Carry on cooking!

GoneBackSouth said...

I forgot hot cross buns even existed, so I certainly didn't get any in for Easter. Another example of how rubbish I am at all the home-maker stuff at the moment :-( Boo.

Alex in Beverley said...

Hi Pig, we found it easier to ignore chocolates this year cos of kids allergies - they didn't get upset about it as they got the money instead (mercenary children what can I say). Nope the only people who missed out is us the parents, the only ones who can eat the stuff, the ones who usually sneak bits off children's eggs and who this year totally forgot to buy our own !!!!! Happy Easter to you and yours - Alex

Pig in the Kitchen said...

thenewstead6, i'm glad i'm not the only harsh one. My plan paid off this year though. My son set a personal best by finishing ALL his easter chocolate by teatime, and the girls have squirreled theirs away somewhere; I'm not even going to ask where!

ElizabethM, yes, lecture me, tell me again that I don't want to be Kate Moss. I do not want to be Kate Moss. At least Easter is now done with, and how cruel of you to dangle the 'not having to get up' notion in front of me. I am sooo hanging out for the teenage hormones that will keep my children in bed until mid-afternoon.

Sweet SAHD, you've returned. If the chocolate celebrations were guiltless (and weightless) I could cope...

A@LF, I felt chastened by your magnanimous attitude to your children's mess...I will try to learn from you and not be an impatient mother. I'm glad you got home for Easter, on my way over soon to see how that back of yours is doing!

thenewstead6, ahhh, glad the buns worked out! My mad old French oven browns everything so that wasn't a problem, but I did notice that the golden syrup I applied afterwards darkened them, making them look browner. I didn't mean to mislead you!

Marianne, I quite like this freefall parenting thing, much less stressfull. I did have to bite my tongue on a couple of occasions as my son wandered around before breakfast with a big chocolate bunny hanging out of his mouth. And I confess to cracking and removing a full-sized bar of Lindt dark chocolate from the two year old; Daddy had given her a small bit, but he is no match for her and she'd grabbed the rest of the bar when he wasn't looking...

GBS, no, no, noooo, be kind to yourself. These traditions are all marketing ploys, we don't HAVE to eat them! You have a lot of houses on your plate at the moment, I think you need to eat some easter chocolate.

A in B, doh! you forgot chocolate at Easter?! But what a good plan to pay the children, thus avoiding all the hassle. Roll on next year...

Blue Prom Dresses said...

Liz, I can understand why you had a good time, it can't be everyday that you are exposed to unadulterated stupidity! Thanks for yr help

Nicseoin said...

I like hot cross buns and my husband bless his socks is really supportive of the my allergy diet. But he doesn't like raisins - so would this work with diary free chocolate chips instead?

Jac said...

SOOO happy I found this recipe! I've been gluten-free for a year and a half, and dairy- and egg-free for only a few weeks. I thought for sure I wouldn't get to enjoy any HCBs this year. But these are GREAT! I changed up the spice mixture a little (more like the ones I grew up with) and used coconut oil instead of dairy-free spread. They turned out incredible! Thank you for sharing this!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Jac, yay! I love the fact that I'm incredible! Oh, wait, you mean my recipe is incredible?! Well hooray for that too! Thanks so much for leaving a comment :-)

Pig x

Anonymous said...

Hi Pig,
I've just tried them and it was a total disaster. The rotten mix just wouldn't rise!!!! They've been sitting in the oven for ages and still look as tough as anything.
Best of luck with all your recipes, I'm sure I've mucked something up.
I'm giving up on GF baking, that will keep my gym trainer happy