Every year when I was growing up my little sister and I would insist that our parents create a garden Easter egg hunt for us, and while most years our wish was granted, there was always a bit of a hitch involved. My mum would agree so long as we would help her clean the yard of winter wind falls, branches, and leaves before any hunt would take place. While that's not really what you want to hear as a lazy kid, we would nevertheless agree to her conditions to get the chance to discover little brightly coloured foil wrapped chocolates in and amongst the trees, ferns, and flowers (sometimes we missed a few and would "discover" them months later). Chocolate was always the highlight of the holiday for me - the hollow bunny, the solid bunny, the chocolate egg that had my name printed on it - I ate them all and loved them all, and would stash them away from the leering eyes of my siblings (and dad) to saver for the coming months. But now, twenty years later, my tastes have changed. While I still adore a chocolate, I am unable to handle the sweetness and creaminess of milk chocolate, preferring instead other traditional Easter treats.
I can clearly remember my mother and grandmother sitting around her teak kitchen table eating hot cross buns, toasted with butter, jam, or cheese (sometimes all three). I always thought it was a strange thing to eat, raisins, gross! But then things changed, I got older and raisins suddenly became amazing and delicious! Hot cross buns began to equate to yum! Lightly flavoured with warming spices, studded with dried fruit, and strewn with a hint of citrus, hot cross buns are the embodiment of a homey warm hearth. The thing I love most about hot cross buns, is their ephemeral quality. While other holiday goodies are available all year round, hot cross buns have that same limited window of opportunity as pumpkin pie, gingerbread house, and buche de Noel, where if you don't get them right away, they are gone again until next year. So you better act fast!
Instead of optioning for the traditional yeasted bread version, loaded with butter and eggs, I thought it would be nice to make a yeast-free version suitable for most diets. This recipe can easily be made vegan with either the use of coconut oil or vegan shorting (I used both successfully), as well as easliy made gluten free with the use of a flour mix listed below. Best of all, these babies are easy to whip together as they don't require time to proof or any fancy recipe to make the cross on top. They are great as is, fresh out of the oven, or sliced in half (the gluten free one will cruble a bit) and toasted with jam and a cup of tea.
Hot Cross SconesRecipe: (makes 8 large scones, recipe can easily be halved)
2 1/2 Cups Spelt Flour or Gluten Free Mix (See Below)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
3/4 Cup Milk of Choice (I used almond)
1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Chilled Butter, Vegan Shorting, or Coconut Oil
4 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Sultanas
1/4 Cup Currents
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
Zest 1 Orange
Zest 1 Lemon
Icing: Mix a little vegan icing sugar with a splash of almond milk, or use melted coconut butter
* To make these gluten free replace the spelt with 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup arrowroot starch, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup light buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup almond flour flour, and 2 tsp psyllium husk.
1. Combine the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl sour the milk by adding the apple cider vinegar and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
3. Add the butter/shorting to the flour and with tips of your fingers lightly mix the shorting into the flour until it resembles a course meal.
4. Add the milk, maple syrup, zests, and dried fruit, to the flour. Be sure to combine well, but be careful not to over mix (the gluten free dough will be softer, so use a spoon to stir together)
5. Spelt - roll the dough out so that it is approximately 2 1/2 cm thick, using a 6 cm round cutter or a glass, cut scones. Roll the remaining dough and continue until it is all used up. Using a knife, score each scone with a cross.
6. Gluten Free - The gluten free dough will be too soft to roll, it is more of a thick muffin batter consistency (you may have to add up to 2 tbsp more milk if it is too thick). Using a spoon, drop mounds of dough onto the parchment lines tray (they will be too soft to score)
7. Bake scones on a parchment lined tray at 175 C (350 F) for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden.
8. Let cool before icing.
9. Store in an airtight container.