A true Easter special! Expect these gluten free and keto hot cross buns (with actual yeast!) to be extra fluffy, beautifully spiced and a real delight!
Gluten Free & Keto Hot Cross Buns
An Extra Fluffy Affair!
Hot cross buns are a real beauty right?! With their gorgeous spices and yeast notes, they truly are a must come Easter in my book. And if you have yet to try them, think a little bit like a brioche, Italian panettone, or Mexican Rosca de Reyes.
Honestly guys, I’m very proud of this one! Took a little bit of work, but it’s fairly marvelous how much it does resemble real hot cross buns. Albeit more dense because well, no starches and gluten.
And you might be surprised, but (like with all our gluten free yeast breads), making these keto hot cross buns is incredibly simple really. There’s no kneading, double resting time, etc.. which gives much more room for error. But, like with any yeasted bread, it does require you take care of a few details to ensure the best possible outcome so be sure to read (or skim!) through the post.
Compared to other yeast bread recipes on the site (sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls), this one falls the least post bake. Though do note that keto flours are notoriously heavy and moist) and certain missing proteins (think gluten), so they will be denser than normal buns. I’ve tried these in both Mexico City (super high altitude) and LA (sea level) and they work just as well.
You just must ensure your rolls do almost double in size while proofing, and it can take anywhere from 1.5-3 hours (deepening on your temperature, altitude, how many add ins you have..). This dough does require a little extra warmth. For instance, I place my tray on top of my oven as I heat it up (so my tray gets slightly warm and they rise beautifully). But you must ensure you don’t overheat them or you’ll kill the yeast. Think a warm and humid day at the beach, that’s the ideal temperature.
The Tips ‘N Tricks
The yeast in these low carb and keto hot cross buns ensures a wonderful texture and taste. But it does require you to take care of a few details:
Weigh your ingredients. This will forever be a staple recommendation for any sort of gluten free baking here at gnom-gnom. As aside from leading to less dirty dishes, it will ensure consistent results time and time again. Remember that gluten free (and particularly keto) baking is notoriously finicky, and measuring by cups is anything but accurate. And if you don’t own a baking scale, measure with cups by dropping the ingredients onto them rather than scooping them out (which often leads to overpacking).
Ingredients at room temperature. Self explanatory really, but incredibly important (particularly for the eggs). If you add cold eggs to the mix your bread simply won’t rise much (if at all).
Proof the yeast. This involves mixing dry active yeast with water that’s just warm to touch (between 105-110°F to be precise) and inulin or an actual sugar (think maple syrup or honey) for 7 minutes until foamy (see picture below). And before you scream sugar (!!) remember that the yeast will feed on such sugar to emit carbon dioxide, so it doesn’t affect the carb count. And yes, this is a scientific fact (but if you’re weary, just use inulin!).
Avoid abrupt temperature changes and air drafts. Like with any yeast bread, you need to cuddle your dough. Make sure it’s able to rest undisturbed in a warm space.
Baking at high altitude? Yup, so am I (Paola here!!). No changes need to be done here!
The Ingredients & Possible Subs
These hot cross buns do have quite a few ingredients, but you’ll find that most are staple paleo and keto pantry ingredients. In the list below you’ll find details on several ingredients and possible subs. But if possible, please do try and make this recipe without any subs.
Almond flour. You truly need a super finely ground almond flour here, as if you use meal your bread will turn out dense and oily. Super fine almond flour brands include Anthony’s (my favorite), WellBees and Bob’s.
If you want a lighter bun, you can do 3/4 cup (72g) of your regular almond flour and 3/4 cup (75g) of the fat-reduced almond flour (the one from our pancakes). Similar to most peanut flours out there, this almond flour has been cold-pressed to remove 80% of its fat. This essentially reduces calorie content by 50% (hooray!), and makes for some seriously fluffy baked goods (double hooray)!
And if paleo, or in keto maintenance, you can lighten up the bread by substituting part of the almond flour (1/4-1/2 cup) with arrowroot flour in a 1-to-1 ratio.
Flaxseed meal. You’ll want to use golden flaxseed meal (I use Bob’s), and regrind the flakes in your (very dry!) bullet or blender until finely powdered. Great way to avoid slimy bread.
Psyllium husk powder. Same as with your flaxseed meal, you’ll always want to regrind your psyllium husk. We always favor NOW brand as it doesn’t turn bread purple. You can substitute it with more flax, but your bread may lose some elasticity and rise.
Whey protein isolate. This one is an absolute must, as it will ensure your hot cross buns don’t collapse post-bake. Keep in mind that this ingredient varies tremendously from brand to brand, and I’ve only tried (and are super happy!) with Isopure’s Zero Carb Unflavored.
The Dried Fruit
A bit tricky because well, store-bought dried fruit ain’t the most keto of foods… though still doable. If you’re very keen, you can boil some cranberries with sweetener (allulose and xylitol work great here). And then, once softened (though not mushy), popped them in the dehydrator (or your oven at roughly 150-170F) to dry out slowly.
And you can follow the same methodology with orange peel too!
Alternatively, what I did here was to simply use toasted pecans (and it worked great!). But chocolate chunks would work great too paired with the orange hues!
(Important note!) I recently made the connection (while at the dentist!) that xylitol inhibits yeast and bacteria growth (which is why it’s the sweetener of choice for dental products). So don’t use xylitol!
(Extra Fluffy!) Gluten Free & Keto Hot Cross Buns
Oh, and if baking with cups rather than grams is your thing, just click on US Cups for an instant conversion. Though for best results we (highly!!) suggest you weight your ingredients here.
For the gluten free & keto hot cross buns
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- pinch ground ginger optional (to help proof the yeast)
- 1 tablespoon inulin or maple sirup, honey, to feed the yeast*
- 1/2 cup water lukewarm between 105-110°F
- 58 g sour cream
- 168 g almond flour **
- 83 g golden flaxseed meal finely ground
- 35 g whey protein isolate
- 18 g psyllium husk finely ground
- 1/3 cup erythritol or allulose
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg freshly ground
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons orange zest
- 56 g unsalted grass-fed butter
- 1/2 cup chocolate chunks, pecans or dried fruit (keto-style!) see post for notes
- See recipe video of the cinnamon rolls for guidance on the methodology (similar yeast doughs, different ratios). And check out the post for deets, tips and possible subs! Note: if using a stand mixer, feel free to use the paddle attachment for easiest mixing.
For the gluten free & keto hot cross buns
- Add yeast and a dash of ginger to a large bowl, set aside. Mix inulin (or maple syrup), water and sour cream in a small bowl. Heat up over a water bath to 105-110°F. And if you don't have a thermometer it should only feel lightly warm to touch.
- Pour lightly warm sour cream mixture over yeast, cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 7 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly, if it isn't start again (too cold water won't activate the yeast and too hot will kill it).
- Mix your flours while the yeast is proofing. Add almond flour, flaxseed meal, whey protein powder, sweetener, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
- Once your yeast is proofed, add in the eggs, vinegar and orange zest. Mix with an electric mixer for a minute or so until fully mixed. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the softened butter. Keep on mixing until you can no longer see any streaks of butter. The dough will become very sticky, so you want to work quickly to get it mixed properly. Use a wet spatula to gather the dough into a ball.
- Lightly wet your hands and form the dough into rounds (I suggest 8 buns, but you can do 6 large ones too). Place on a baking tray, cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm draft-free space for 1.5-3 hours until the dough has almost doubled in size. How long it takes depends on your altitude, temperature and humidity, but just keep in mind that because this is an enriched dough it'll take its time to rise (just be patient!). And note that if you don't see it rising, it likely needs a little more warmth (say the top of your oven!).
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C while the dough is proofing. Lightly brush with egg wash, being careful to avoid the edges so they're able to rise when baked. Bake for 10 minutes at 375°F/190°C, reduce temperature to 350°F/180°C and bake for further 15-20 minutes. Hot cross buns should be a deep brown when done, but feel free to tent with foil to prevent over browning (around minute 10-12).
- Allow to cool on the tray for 20 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Keep in mind that they continue to cook while cooling, so you really don't want to cut before! Keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days. Serve at room temperature or lightly warm.
For the icing
- Whisk thoroughly together the icing ingredients until it forms a thick paste. Pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun once they're completely cool.