When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Almond and honey hot cross buns (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

When I was little, Easter mornings were really fun family occasions filled with special surprises and treats.  The Easter Bunny always left a trail of jelly beans and hidden goodie baskets for my brothers and I, and we always enjoyed a much-loved breakfast of coloured eggs and thick, toasted slices of my Grandma D's homemade Easter bread.  I have never since tasted, and probably never will taste, a bread as good as hers; it was sweet, golden, and light as air, and the crust was drizzled with a thin white icing and dotted with colourful sprinkles.  When I close my eyes and breathe deeply this time of year, I can still smell that bread's sweet goodness.

I am pretty positive that there is no way to make a gluten, dairy, and egg-free version of Easter bread that would come anywhere close to my grandma's, so I've decided not to attempt it.  I do, though, want the boys to have their own happy memories of sweet, homebaked Easter goods, so I came up with this recipe for hot-cross buns made with almond flour, honey, spices, and fruits.  Noah and Will and I had a lot of fun together making a test batch of them yesterday, and we were all so very pleased with how they turned out!  I'm looking forward to baking and sharing them again with my little family this coming Easter weekend.

Almond and Honey Hot Cross Buns

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp mixed lemon and orange zest
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp raw honey

For the crosses:

2 tbsp raw coconut butter (I use Artisana brand)
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp raw honey

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, lemon and orange zest.  Stir until well mixed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and water.  Add the honey and whisk well.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well combined.  Knead with your hands if necessary to get a uniform dough.

Divide dough into 5 equal parts.  Roll each section of dough into a ball with your hands, and place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.  Cut a cross shape about 1/4 inch deep into the top of each bun with a sharp knife.

Bake buns for 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.  Cool slightly.

While buns are cooling, make the icing for the crosses by combining the coconut butter, coconut oil, and honey in a small bowl and beating with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe icing over the crosses on the buns.  Serve warm. 

These hot cross buns fill the air with a cinnamony warmth when they're baking, and the protein-rich almond flour makes them a delicious and satisfying breakfast treat.

Wishing you all a sweet and happy Easter weekend!

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