Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free, Gum-Free}

Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free, Gum-Free}

Did you ever think you’d be making hot cross buns using plantains? Me neither! These refined sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, yeast-free plantain hot cross buns have certainly been an interesting experiment from beginning to end. I have to admit I was not planning on making a hot cross buns recipe for the blog, but as luck would have it I got two reader requests for those within a day, so I felt like I had to give it a try. Most especially because one request was for a recipe that could be made with a special needs class, and the other from someone who wanted a recipe that is free from many allergens, including starches, yeast, and gums.

I’m loving all the latest recipe requests by the way — even if they are challenging at times. I love helping people find recipes they can enjoy, and I also love pushing the boundaries of my own baking and trying out new things. So I set out to investigate what could be done…

Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free, Gum-Free}

I must admit that it’s been a challenge from beginning to end. I mean hot cross buns are meant to be yeasted — that’s a huge part of their whole flavor and appeal. They’re also meant to have an eggy light and fluffy quality to them. And then the gluten-free flour mix I would normally use relies on starch and guar gum. And so, I tried out many, many things over the course of the last few days {the shelf of delicious failed hot cross buns in my fridge can attest to that ;) } — I tried chestnut flour, applesauce, pumpkin buns, banana buns, bready buns, round ones, square ones, and more… and I think after all these attempts I have to say that I was sadly not able to get anywhere near the texture and look of a real hot cross bun. I think they are just really meant to be yeasted and need a good sturdy gluten-free flour to work. But I will say that I came up with some delicious cross buns that could be enjoyed for the occasion nonetheless, even if they’re a little funny-looking ;)

Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free, Gum-Free}

To be fair, time is a huge factor here — Easter is only a couple of days away and I imagine people would want to make these for the occasion, so I felt a rush to get a recipe up very quickly and only had a day or two to play around. I also live out of town and the nearest store that carries good baking supplies is two hours away, so I really just had to improvise with what I had on hand… A little limiting, but luckily I have enough random baking supplies to feed a country in my pantry and so I was still able to give these special request gluten-free vegan hot cross buns a go with what I had on hand.

Normally I would carry on with my experiments until I get it right, but in this case I chose to share the best recipe I’ve come up with so far instead. And while I can’t say I came up with a hot cross bun copycat, I will say that I came up with some really delicious buns that are free from {ready for this?}: gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, refined sugar, gums, starches, nuts, and specific grains I was asked to leave out if possible: millet, sorghum, buckwheat, and in addition, as requested, ideally the ingredients needed to be as unrefined as possible.

Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free, Gum-Free}

These are obviously not perfect — a little cracked, a little dark, a little sweeter than the usual, but they are seriously delicious and have a wonderful cinnamony, allspicy, and raisin filled flavor and aroma. I got inspired by a friend’s recent recipe to use some ripe plantain in these and it worked great — when I tried bananas, pumpkin, or chestnuts, I found they totally overpowered the bun’s natural flavors. A plantain worked just right — gave it a good balance of moisture, texture, and taste, and worked great with the warm spiced flavors.

Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free, Gum-Free}

Perhaps I’ll have a more traditional recipe worked out for next year, but until then, I hope you enjoy these little funny buns :)

5.0 from 2 reviews
Plantain Hot Cross Buns {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Yeast-Free}
Prep time: 
Cook/Chill Time: 
Ready In: 
Makes: 6 buns
Wet Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 large ripe plantain
  • 8 soft medjool dates
  • ¼ cup maple syrup {or agave, honey, honee, brown rice syrup, etc.}
  • 3 tbsp olive oil {or cooking oil of your choice}
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 cup brown rice flour {plus possibly more -- see directions}
  • ½ cup sweet sticky rice {also known as glutinous rice flour/mochi/mochiko flour}
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp each: allspice, nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • ½ cup raisins
Cross Ingredients:
  • 4½ tbsp sweet sticky rice flour
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 - 2½ tbsp water
Glaze Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a small baking dish {I used a 3" x 6" oven safe glass tupperware container, but anything similar would work} with some parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix warm water and flax in a small bowl/glass and let sit for a few minutes while gathering remaining wet ingredients.
  3. Place all wet ingredients into a food processor, with the flax mixture going in last. Process until completely smooth. Add in dry ingredients, except raisins, and process until the mixture begins gathering up into a ball {it will still be a little sticky, but should pinch together nicely}. If it's too sticky {i.e. can't be rolled up into a little ball}, add a bit more rice flour, 2 tbsp at a time, and process, until the mixture begins to stick together. Add in raisins and mix through briefly to incorporate them into the dough.
  4. Scoop out some of the mixture and roll into a ball with your hands. Budget to have enough mixture for 6 balls. Place them in the prepared baking dish as you roll them. They should be touching each other and fill the whole container {they won't rise, but they will fill out a little and get that square bun shape and look this way}. Use a blunt knife and press a little cross on top of each bun {don't cut in deep -- just press in a little}.
  5. Prepare the cross mixture by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl. The mixture should be pasty and smooth. If it's too dry, add a tiny bit more water, too wet -- a tiny bit more flour}. Transfer into a pipping bag or a a sturdy ziplock, snip off the edge, and then carefully pipe out crosses on each bun.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 55 minutes {or until a skewer inserted down the center comes out dry. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Prepare the glaze by mixing all glaze ingredients together. Brush this mixture on top of each bun and enjoy!
- Add in some citrus zest for a traditional variation.
- If you cannot find sweet sticky rice flour {though do look for it by its other names first though!}, try increasing the brown rice flour and adding in some tapioca or arrowroot starch. I haven't tested this out, but I would try 1¼ cups brown rice flour, ¼ cup starch. For the cross part -- use a starch.
Now your turn to share: how do you feel about altering a traditional recipe?

Happy baking!



This recipe has been shared with Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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