Eggless Hot cross buns

The inspiration for this recipe comes in two parts.

Meeta had told me about the hot cross buns she made a couple of days ago, on chat, and she enticed me with a gorgeous photo (that's not a surprise anyway) of the same. At that point, I just thought, 'wow' with no intention of making them whatsoever. Then, Saturday morning, I decided to bake some good bread to take to friends we were visiting later that evening. I thought Foccasia would be a good idea. Although I've made a Potato Rosemary Foccasia earlier on, I wanted to try something new, which took me to Haalo's blog. I clearly remembered that she had blogged about a beautiful foccasia bread quite a while ago, the pictures i'd seen then were clearly embedded in my mind.
One thing lead to another, and I was looking at some utterly cute hot cross buns This made me change my mind and go for the buns instead. Also, Good Friday being round the corner, it felt like a good idea.

Since I was making these for the first time, I decided to read up on some other blogger notes, about making them. Most recipes pointed to the recipe on the BBC Food website or the Delia Smith recipe, and the former clearly being the more popular one. I managed to combine Haalo's recipe with some techniques in the BBC recipe, replacing the eggs with flaxseed meal, to make vegetarian hot cross buns.

It was fun to do this project - listening to music and reading one of my current favourite authors on the side. A perfectly relaxed Saturday morning, with hubby at work and me smelling the yeast and cinnamon in the house - better than visiting a spa!

Recipe for Eggless Hot Cross Buns
Category : Yeast breads
Time taken : 40 minutes active time and at least 3 hours inactive time


1 tbsp instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water | Egg replacer
50 grams melted butter
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus some more for dusting
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp Chinese all spice powder
1/2 cup black raisins
1 tsp salt

3 tbsp all purpose flour + 2 tbsp cold water - For piping the crosses

3 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp water - For sugar glaze


Step One - Preparing flaxseed puree
Mix the flaxseed meal* and 3 tbsp water in a small saucepan, whisk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and transfer into a large mixing bowl.
*Take a cup of flax seeds in the mixer and dry grind to a fine powder. You can buy flax seeds from Fabindia organics if your local grocer does not stock it.

Step Two - Activating the yeast
To the mixing bowl, add the yeast, all of the milk, 2 tsp sugar. Whisk well and keep covered in a warm place for around 10 minutes, till it has frothed up like beer.

Step Three - Preparing the dough and proving
Add the melted butter, remaining sugar, spices into the yeast mixture. Sift the flour into the bowl along with the salt. Add the raisins. Knead all the above into a dough, which will be sticky at this stage. Remove the dough to a dusted clean surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place this in a well oiled bowl, cover this with a cling wrap. Wrap the bowl in a large tea towel and keep in a warm place ( I place it inside the microwave oven) for around an hour to let the dough double in volume.

Step Four - First knock-down
This part is adapted from the BBC recipe where the dough is allowed to rise three times, in total. The risen dough is punched down, removing all the air by folding it on itself several times and then pressing down with knuckles. Shape again into a ball and place in an oiled bowl for a second rise. Cover and rest the bowl for 40 minutes or so, till dough is double in volume.

Ready to go into the oven

Step Five - Second knock down and shaping
Knock down the dough as explained above and shape into 12 equal balls. Line a rectangular 9 X 12 inch baking tin [I used one 9X9 and baked a second batch of 3 in a loaf tin, as I have a small counter top oven] and place the balls side by side.
Cover and let this rise for 15-20 minutes. They will puff up and invading on the neighbouring bun's territory, filling up the tray beautifully.

Step Six - Crossing the buns and baking
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240 Celsius and prepare Pour this into a piping bag fitted with a very small nozzle. I used a plastic milk bag and made a small diagonal nick one of the corners. Pipe a cross in the center of each bun and bake for 10 minutes or so, until the buns are golden brown on the top and well puffed up.

Step Seven - Glazing
While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar glaze. Dissolve 3 tbsp sugar in 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and keep it simmering until the solution has thickened.
Once the buns are out of the oven, brush them with glaze while still hot and let them cool off before removing from pan.

Tasting notes
OK, I must confess that since I was making them for the first time, I was very eager to try out if they came anywhere close to the yummy hot cross buns I'd eaten at Gaylord's - a cafe in Churchgate that also sells amazingly fresh baked goodies - hot cross buns and chocolate easter eggs sell like 'hot cakes' at this time of the year. I did not wait until they cooled completely, and i felt that although the buns had risen very very well, felt incredibly soft and the colour was perfect, it could have been a bit drier on the inside. Also this could be due to my inexperience in baking with all purpose flour. But taste wise, they were wonderful - just the right sweetness and very cinnamony!
After a quick chat with Meeta, I decided to leave them out and not dare to bake them a second time - but toasting them before eating for a better texture. I did manage to take these to our friends' place later in the evening and I was glad to hear words of praise from our friend who is a very well known caterer specialising in Parsi food.

I would love to make these again, for friends - as I am not a big fan of all purpose flour. I will reduce the quantity of milk by 1/4th cup as the dough became quite difficult to shape and handle towards the end, and I could not slash the cross on them either - had to be satisfied with the piped crosses. Our chef friend also pointed out that the buns would have turned out drier inside, had I used egg. So next time, I will use the one egg after all.

Update: My dear friend Meeta has posted her version too, with absolutely inspiring pictures. She made them before I did, but i beat her to posting it :)

These buns go to Bread Baking Day # 8 hosted by Susan of the Wild Yeast Blog.


arundati said...

dear nandita!! i just posted my comment and hit blog search and ended up with this....this is getting made on thursday in time for good friday...thanks so much...

musical said...

Really cute recipe, Nandita! Glad to find an eggless recipe for this one :).

KayKat said...

One a penny, two a penny - Hot X Buns
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons
But if you're really smart, you'll just eat them one by one :)

Joy the Baker said...

Those hot cross buns look just lovely. What a relaxing Saturday morning! What a great first try with hot cross buns! I'm getting inspired to make them sometime this week for the holiday! Thanks for sharing!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Hi Nanditha,
Landed up here off the casserole post & am glad i found your page. Love it. The hot cross buns are like a Daring Baker challenge! WOW...must admit I've never made these! You're almost enticing me to make them! Cheers Deeba

Nandita said...

Arundati - Glad you found it and please let me know your feedback...if you don't have a problem with eggs, use 1 egg instead of the flaxseed meal, you'll get better results.

Musical - Kya karen, DH stopped eating eggs - and he is my chief tasting officer, so I had to find an alternative :)

KayKAt- Very cute rhyme there - and you are so right! But I'm smarter, I share it with friends :)

Joy - It is fun indeed to wait and watch over these beauties, because the end result is totally worth it.

Deeba - Haha, dont even compare me to the daring bakers, i dont even have one tenth of the daring here...this recipe seemed simple enough for me to gather courage - do make them this weekend!

Meeta said...

So soul sister your hot cross buns look great but then I saw them before you posted the recipe. To the recipe I have to say I love the flax seeds addition. Lovely idea!

Rachel said...

Was searching for hot cross buns...led me to this post....Too good for a first try :)

Raaga said...

they look lovely... :-) I bought an egg replacer here... maybe you could try that too :-)

Are you talking about Ms. Mitra?

Aarti 2nd said...

They look absolutely yummmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy

next time we meet, u make me some... :)

Suganya said...

As you said, I am going to try both flax and egg in this recipe. Beautiful, Nandita.

Lalaine said...

Looks so good!
There is this almost similar bun very popular in dimsum houses that uses mung bean paste filling. I will try to re-create that at home using your bread recipe! Thanks!

TheRadiantLotus said...

Hi Nandita,
Am itching to try this out!
I havent seen any Chinese All spice powder here. Any alternative ? or can I make it in my own kitchen? Likewise I havent seen any flaxseed powder so I intend grinding the seeds at home.

Your blog is warm and professional and perfectly spiced with humour, love, friendship and health! Keep up your good work swwetheart.


Nandita said...

Rachel - this could be what ppl call beginner's luck :) I want to make it a second time, hope the luck stays with me!

Meeta - yes darling, updated with link to my soul sister's HCBs.

Raaga - you are bang do seem to more or less know whoever I talk about LOL! send me mail about egg replacer brand and where to get it it egg derived or vegan?

Aarti- surely, but as i was saying, given the flight delays, i may start hogging them enroute itself...why dont you come over here?

Suganya - You mean both in same recipe? Please do let me know how it turns out...

Lalaine - Dimsum with mung bean paste sounds interesting!

Vibs - Thank you for your sweet words, as ever...and sorry i did not mention that I made flaxseed meal, by finely grinding plain flaxseeds in a mixer. And Chinese five spice is something like our garam masala - but this one has ginger, cinnamon, anise, fennel, clove and liquorice root...this is not asked for, but since it had a mix of spices I used can go with cinnamon-clove-ginger powder - will fit in perfectly.

Asha said...

Beautiful!! I loved eating them while we were in UK, haven't made then at home yet. Great looking buns N, good job!
I am on break until May, see you then. Take care girl!:)

Mallika said...

Gosh, Nandita. These look fabulous. I'm not much of a baker. But I'm thinking quite seriously about a batch of these for Easter...

Mrs Pal said...

Ehat a beautiful blog and what yummy looking buns! Thanks so much for the eggless recipes - quite hard to come across!

arundati said...

hi nandita, just posted my version....whole wheat!! and i did use the egg.... cheers!!

Aparna said...

Liked this recipe. Any idea where I can find flaxseed meal? Perhaps you could give me the brand or something?
I'll try this one when we've moved and settled in.

Archana said...

hey i have heard the nursery rhyme for this hot cross buns... well did not know they actually existed :).I would love to make these for my kids someday ...glad its an egg less version, as i just discovered my sons allergic to eggs.

Nandita said...

Aparna, have updated the flax seed info on the post. Flax seed meal is nothing but dry ground flax seeds. If you do not find them in your grocers' you can pick up from your local Fabindia. They stock organic produce and flax seed is one of them.

Yes the British nursery rhyme originated from these buns :) I'm sure your kids will love it with a glass of milk.

SaraLynn said...

They look wonderful!


They r looking YUM !!

saffrontrail said...

I want to make them this weekend, Sumanji!

lovely said...

after seeing your post my mouth is watering :P

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