Dairy Free Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Orange Glaze

Posted on Posted in Holiday Recipes

Hello everyone and Happy Spring! ♥

How’s the weather in your part of the world? Here in Hawaii it’s already gotten pretty warm. The Monkeypod trees have started dropping most of their leaves, and the bugs are out en force. Flowers bloom year round here, so we won’t be seeing any blossoms poking out of the snow. Spring is in full swing for most of us and Easter is on the way. It feels like Easter is late this year, right? My daughter is very much looking forward to dyeing eggs, hunting for them, and getting her modest Easter basket. I’m looking forward to my husband’s deviled eggs. Ok, I like to dye eggs too. 😉 

You guys know by now that I love to cook, bake, and eat. In fact, that is one of my favorite ways to observe holidays. Last year I made these dairy free hot cross buns, but somehow totally lost the recipe! This year I started over with the recipe and tested it multiple times before settling on this finalized version. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me posting both in my feed and in my story about my multiple attempts with these babies.

This version uses wheat flour, but I have no doubt you could swap out your favorite gluten free flour blend with success. As I’ve mentioned before, I have yet to find a GF flour blend that does not contain potato starch. insert sad face here If you know of one, please let me know! I’d love to try it out.

So the key to these buns being soft and light is how long you knead them for. If they go for too long they will be dense and bready. Trust me, not what we’re going for – I’m speaking from experience! The mixer should only run for 3-4 minutes and your buns should be soft, light, and fluffy!

This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, but don’t let that intimidate you! Even if you have zero bread-making experience this recipe can still turn out great, give it a shot!

Ingredients                                                                                                                                                     Yield: 12 buns

For the Buns

  • 2/3 cup almond milk (preferably homemade)
  • 1/4 cup granulated cane sugar (organic & non-GMO preferred)
  • 1/4 cup scant unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp packed orange zest (about 1 large navel orange worth)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 1/2 cups Unbleached, unbromated all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 heaping cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon turmeric, if you’d like a yellow color for the buns

For the Cross Topping

  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tbsp almond milk

Vanilla Orange Glaze for Brushing

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of half an orange


  • Gather all your ingredients and set out on your counter top.
  • Add the first 3 ingredients into a small pot on the stove and heat on low until coconut oil has melted and sugar is dissolved. Stir gently while heating. As soon as everything is incorporated, remove from heat.

The milk and sugar mixture should be 100-110°F which should be a comfortable heat when tested with a finger. A clean meat thermometer is a great way to correctly measure the temperature. If the mixture is too hot it will kill the yeast, if it is too cool, the yeast won’t activate. 

  • Once the mixture has reached the correct temp, pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and add in yeast. Stir gently and leave to prove for 5-10 minutes.
  • While the yeast is activating, zest your orange, and measure out remaining ingredients.
  • Once the yeast looks foamy on top, it’s ready to go. It should also smell somewhat like beer or a brewery.
  • Attach a dough hook to your stand mixer, lock in the bowl, and turn it on low.
  • Sprinkle in the zest, breaking it up with your fingers so it distributes throughout the dough evenly.

    See the flecks of orange zest? Mmm….
  • Add the raisins or dried cranberries.
  • Pour in beaten eggs, then slowly pour in the flour.
  • Once you have added the last of your flour, set a timer for 3 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on your dough to make sure it is coming together. If your home is very humid, you may need to add more flour. Do so 1 tbsp at a time.
  • Do not overwork the dough!
  • After 3-4 minutes maximum, turn off your mixer and pull out your dough. The dough should have pulled away from the sides of the bowl and started to climb up the dough hook. It should be moist and tacky, but not wet.
  • Shape your dough into a smooth ball and put into a well-oiled bowl to rise until double in size. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set in a warm area of your kitchen.
  • Once dough has risen for 60-90 minutes, and doubled in size, it’s ready!
  • Punch down dough gently and fold it over on itself a couple times. Don’t overwork it, we still want some air left in the dough.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    left: before rising / right: after rising & brushed with almond milk
  • Roll dough into 12 buns, approximately the same size. if you have a seam in the dough, make sure it is face down on the pan and the smooth part is on top.
  • Leave the buns to rest on your counter top for about 30 minutes until nice and poofy.
  • Just before baking, brush the buns with almond milk.
  • Place into the preheated oven and bake 18-22 minutes, checking at 18 minutes.
  • Buns are ready when they’re golden brown on the top and sides and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Place on a cooling rack, removing the hot pan and placing the parchment paper directly on the cooling rack, if possible.
  • While the buns are cooling, make the orange-vanilla glaze for brushing.
  • Allow buns to cool for about 30 minutes and then brush/spoon/pour/slather on the vanilla-orange glaze while buns are still warm.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Once the buns have cooled completely, pipe or use a fork to drizzle on the glaze to make the cross shape on top of the buns.
  • Enjoy with your favorite jam or grassfed butter!

Additional Notes

  • Leave the buns all together on the parchment while you’re adding the cross on top, it’s much easier.
  • The buns are best enjoyed warm, so once you pipe on the cross, you may wish to reheat in a toaster oven. It’s a crime to reheat bread in a microwave, please don’t do that disservice to your beautiful buns!
  • Again, I cannot be more clear – do NOT overwork the dough. They will not be light or fluffy if the dough is overworked.
  • I think chopped nuts (like walnuts or pecans) would be a nice addition to the dough for texture, but my husband was emphatic about not adding nuts. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! 1/2 cup should do it.
  • I have substituted maple syrup for the granulated sugar and it worked out well.
  • Sifting the powered sugar is important. When I did not sift, I ended up with clumps of sugar in my glaze. Bummer.
  • Keep these on the counter in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

I think that’s it! Let me know how you enjoy these buns. Do you have a favorite Spring/Easter recipe you make every year? I’d love to know, leave a comment below!

Happy Eating♥

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