Paleo Hot Cross Buns

April 6, 2012 in Categories: , by

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I associate hot cross buns with Easter even more than I do candy and chocolate (even creme eggs!).  We used to buy these amazing traditional buns full of raisins and candied citrus rind with a pastry dough cross (frosting crosses are a recent invention).  They were light, but chewy and spongy too, with a wonderful combination of sweet spices.  Once I mastered yeast-based paleo bread, a paleo version of this Easter treat seemed like the perfect next target.  I made some modifications to the yeast-based paleo bread recipe to make the dough closer to the hot cross buns I remember as a kid.  You still get to use your Bread Machine on the “dough” cycle, then spoon into muffin tins, do the final rise on your counter top, and bake them in the oven (you could also mix the ingredients by hand using room temperature ingredients and warmed water, let rise in a bowl in a warm corner of your kitchen, and then pick up from there).  This recipe also makes a great raisin bread by using 1 full cup raisins and baking in your bread machine or in a loaf pan.

A note on candied citrus rind:  The recipe for candied citrus rind below makes enough rind for two batches of paleo hot cross buns.  You could also buy this at a specialty grocery store if you prefer (check the ingredients list though).  It’s pretty easy to make at home and the leftover honey is a delicious addition to the bread dough.  If you want to buy it instead, or leave it out, just use regular honey in the recipe instead.  If you do decide to leave it out, add a few extra raisins (maybe 2/3-3/4 cups depending on how much you like them!).  Also, mixing regular Raisins and Golden Raisins makes for a very pretty bun. (Also, if you are wondering about the use of yeast in this recipe, check out Is Yeast Paleo?)

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients (Candied Orange and Lemon Rind):

  • 3 oranges
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 cup Honey

1.    Zest the oranges and lemons using a Channel Knife (large zester used for making garnishes).  Alternately, you can use a sharp knife to cut away the rind, then slice into “matchsick” thick slices (a little more than 1/8”).  If you have long pieces, give them a rough chop.
2.    Place zest into a small saucepot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce temperature to low and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes, until tender.
3.    Drain water (This is tasty stuff, so keep it and find a use for it.  I used mine to flavor some kombucha, but you could also substitute some of the mineral water in the hot cross buns recipe).  Add honey to the saucepot.  The honey should come up to a simmer fairly quickly even on low heat.
4.    Simmer on low, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, stirring very occasionally.
5.    Drain honey syrup off the rind, but keep this honey for the bread dough. Store in the fridge until ready to make hot cross buns.

Ingredients (The Cross Dough):

1.    Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Place into a Piping Bag with a wide tip.  Set aside.

Ingredients (Hot Cross Buns):

1.    Mix mineral water, eggs, ground flaxseed, salt, honey, pectin and spices in the bottom of your Bread Machine pan.  Use a fork to break up the eggs and mix the ground flaxseed in well.  Let sit 2 minutes before adding the dry ingredients.
2.    Add coconut oil, almond flour, tapioca and arrowroot flour on top of wet ingredients.  Sprinkle yeast on top of the flour (or follow your bread maker’s directions).
3.    Use the dough cycle on your Bread Machine.  Check during the initial knead that the ingredients are mixing well and none are sticking to the edge of the pan (if they are, use a spatula to gently push them down into the rest of the dough).
4.    When your bread machine signals time to add ingredients (toward the end of the initial knead), add the raisings and citrus rind.
5.    Grease two muffin pans generously with palm shortening (18-20 of the cups).  When the dough cycle is complete, spoon large spoons of the sticky dough into the muffin cups (should fill 18-20 muffin cups about two thirds of the way to the top).  It can help to grease your spoon with palm shortening.  Grease your fingers with palm shortening and smooth out any bumps in the dough surface.  Don’t give into the temptation to try and squeeze all this dough into one dozen buns (trust me!).
6.    Let rise in a warm corner of your kitchen for 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F.
7.    Pipe the Cross Dough in a big X over the top of each bun.
8.    Place in the oven and bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown.
9.    Remove from muffin tins fairly promptly after removing from the oven (say, within 5 minutes).  I use a butter knife to gently pry each one loose instead of just dumping them all out because the crosses are a bit fragile (less fragile once it cools).  Enjoy!

Do you need help finding any ingredients?  Check out  Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker.


I am curious, there is no mention of honey in the main ingredience of the buns and yet in the instructions you say to add it. ??? I realize it is in the cross part, but you don’t say how much honey to add in the main ingredience at all. I am confused.

I really must challenge you Paleo people to do something that can be baked that has NO NUTS and NO EGGS… please, please. Nuts are a major allergen for a lot of people and eggs can be as well. Would love to see you solve that challenge 🙂

These look yummy! 🙂 It’s been several years since I’ve had anything with yeast. I rid myself of candida years ago and have been afraid to introduce yeast back into my diet, be it nutritional or not. Thank you for your article on this subject!!! I do drink the occasional glass of wine and of course eat fermented foods, so I’m wondering if it would be safe to bring it back in small doses….

Two questions: 1. Do you have any idea how long the candied citrus peel could last? This was really lovely, but I like do-ahead tasks and it is nice to have a litmus for how long it can be in the refrigerator before one sees mould so I don’t make too much at once! 2. Do you have any suggestions for folks making this recipe without a bread maker? (have tried this twice using the old fashioned mixing/kneading methods and have yet to turn out HC buns that look like Sarah’s!)

1. months in the fridge, stored in the syrup.
2. Use warm water instead of mineral water and proof the yeast first (mix water, honey and yeast and let it sit until it foams). Then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix. Place a damp towel over the bowl and put somewhere warm to rise for an hour. Then make the buns as outlined here.

This recipe looks lovely. I would like to make it for our Pascha basket next Sunday. In the past I made tsoureki and was looking for a nice eggy, citrusy sweet bread. I do not have the pectin and was wondering what it is for. I have used gelatin in pizza crust in place of psyllium husk and was wondering if I could do the same here.

Thank you! I bought both while I was there so I’d be ready no matter what you said. 🙂
I just made these. The flavor is delicious, but I don’t think they rose at all. Maybe because I don’t have a bread machine? (You’ve got me seriously considering one…)No one is complaining though. They’re too busy stuffing their faces. I’ll be surprised if any of them last through tomorrow, let alone Sunday for Easter breakfast!

I am thinking about makibg these. I noticed your recipe calls for both tapioca and arrowroot flour. Is this correct or is it either or? I just have never seen a recipe use both, and I use them interchangeably. Why would both be needed? Thanks!

I really want to make these, but it is Thursday night here in New Zealand (so the shops are shut tomorrow) and I have no pectin or mineral water (I do have sparkling but not still) and I only have tapioca starch, no arrowroot. Do you think they would work with just tapioca and tap water? (We have excellent non-chlorinated tap water, and I could replace the pectin with gelatin or psyllium powder or something… Thanks in advance!

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