Apple and carrot hot cross buns - vegan and no added sugar

Apple and carrot hot cross buns - vegan and no added sugar

Do your kids love hot cross buns? Mine absolutely love them - in fact I think they are their favourite thing about Easter - even more so than the promise of the chocolate that is to come! We've been having hot cross buns for breakfast and for after-school snacks recently and while there are plenty worse things to eat, shop-bought ones are still made with white flour and have lots of added sugar.

I have created a healthier version - using a mix of white flour and spelt flour, with added fruit and veg, and no added sugar. These hot cross buns are sweetened with dates, apple and sultanas - and nothing else. They are also vegan and I think are a pretty delicious and healthy snack or breakfast for anyone. It's great to start the day with a little bit of fruit and veg in your tummy - and if you saw my last post you'll know I'm trying to make the snacks my kids eat healthier and more nutritious at the moment.

This hot cross bun recipe is a great one to make with the kids, especially if you have a day at home while they are off school. My kids were so proud to enjoy their very own homemade hot cross buns.

Apple and carrot hot cross buns - vegan and no added sugar

Here's how to make kid friendly apple and carrot hot cross buns:

50g dates (pitted weight)
300g strong white flour
200g spelt flour
1 x 7g sachet of dried instant yeast
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 medium apples, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
50g coconut oil, melted
200g sultanas or other dried fruit
250ml warm plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
1.5 tbsp plain flour (for the cross)
Extra milk for brushing the tops

1. First make your date purée. You will need a food processor or a good blender to make this, although you could probably bash it up in a pestle and mortar if you don't have one. I used my Optimum G2.3 blender. It's a fairly small quantity so use the smaller jug - or if you don't have one you could always make a larger amount and make these salted caramel brownies. Blend the dates with 1 tsp water until smooth. Set aside.
2. Place the flour, yeast and spices into a mixing bowl. Stir through the grated apple and carrot, the melted coconut oil, the date purée and the sultanas. Mix well so that the fruit is well distributed.
3. Heat up your milk - it should be warm rather than hot. Gradually stir it in to the flour and fruit mixture, mixing all the time. 
4. Scrape out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for ten minutes. It can be fairly sticky to work with so if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook by all means use that!
5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a slightly damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1.5 - 2 hours, until doubled in size.
6. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Lightly oil your hands and tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knock it back - ie squash all the air out. Divide into 12 balls and place onto the baking trays. Cover again and leave for 45 minutes - 1 hour until doubled in size again.
7. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (fan)/220°C/gas mark 7. Brush the tops of the buns with a little milk. For a stickier glaze you can make a sugar syrup (best added after baking) or use melted apricot jam.
8. Mix 1.5 tbsp plain flour with 1.5 tbsp cold water in a small bowl until smooth. Use a piping bag to mark a cross on the top of each bun. You can do this with a spoon if you don't have a piping bag but it's harder to get the lines in the right place - alternatively use a freezer bag and snip one of the corners off.
9. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped.
10. Allow to cool slightly then serve warm as they are or with spreads of your choice.

Kid friendly apple and carrot hot cross buns recipes - vegan and no added sugar
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