For the last two years, there have been many a delicious aroma flooding the air of the staff corridor at school: buttery popcorn, pizza, crepes... Yet, no delicious scent tugged at my nose hairs (...ew) so much as that of freshly toasted Hot Cross Buns! Both years, I have planned to try my hand at a grain-free, sugar-free version, and somehow missed the boat.
Not this year!
Despite my punishing holiday schedule of play rehearsals, holding choir auditions, hosting visitors, supporting friends' Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows, and recovering from a post-term stress flu, I put today aside as a cooking day, making a huge batch of Nola for the beau, and a pile of cauliflower pizzas for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch.
Then - bun time! With bonus biscuits!
|Daylight was done by the time these beauties come out of the oven - a sun-struck snap will get pride of place once dawn breaks tomorrow!|
2 cups almond flour
1 cups coconut flour (or just another cup of almond if you don't like coconut)
250g butter, finely diced
2 T cinnamon (or more, if you love it like I do!)
Pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup maple syrup (optional, but encouraged if you're not using fruit)
3 large apples, peeled and finely diced
Optional - substitute one apple with a cup of juicy fruit of your choice (I would have liked to add sultanas/raisins but the beau's gut doesn't like them)
1. Preheat oven to 175 deg Celsius. Line muffin pans or grease/paper a slide.
2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, spices, and butter. Using your hands - yes, do it! - rub the butter into the flour mix until the whole lot resembles fine crumbs. Then, add the maple syrup and egg yolks, and still well. Feel free continue the manual manipulation, but be prepared for stickiness.
3. Add the chopped apple (and other fruit, if using), and stir. Be sure to dice your apple more finely than I did - I had to use my stick blender to make the apple-y dough more consistent, and lost some of that delicious baked-apple crunch.
4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until fluffy. Add gently to the large bowl, and fold until both mixtures are combined.
5. Softly roll balls of the mixture and place onto greased slide or into muffin pans. For a glossy finish, top with some egg white and/or milk (I didn't bother this time).
BONUS: I decided to save some mixture to see how it would go as biscuits, so I lined another slide , rolled some smaller balls of apple-y dough, and topped a few with 100% cacao buds.
6. After 45 - 60 minutes in the oven (or about 30 - 40 minutes for the biscuits), the buns should be golden brown on the outside and should withstand a prod without feeling at all squidgy. The photo below is a decent indicator of the final product as produced by my temperamental oven, despite the lack of natural light.
Although I'm not at all religious, why pass up the chance to top my baked goodies with chocolate?? For these criss-crosses, I melted some 100% cacao with some butter, then lead the mix across the cooled buns with a knife. Of course, at any other time of year, you can use the excuse of aesthetic merit and drizzle the chocolate stylishly over the fruity goodness.
Thus far, they've received the nod of approval from the beau's sister, who is visiting for a few days, and I've enjoyed a couple of the biscuits. The beau will be trying one when he gets home, and I have high hopes...
Serving suggestion - slice the buns in half, then toast in the oven. Top with a generous amount of butter, and some sliced banana or strawberry compote. Of course, some whipped cream never goes amiss! These could easily pass as scones, given the lack of yeast, so they're perfect for High Tea.
Keep your extras in an air-tight container to maximise their lifespan. Don't forget that coconut flour tends to be quite drying, and this effect increases as the buns age.