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Is it possible to make soft, gluten-free Keto Hot Cross Buns with yeast, but no grains? The answer is an astounding YES!
Making gluten-free keto bread can be tricky, since we got to work without that miracle protein that is gluten. But just because something is tricky, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. My goal with this recipe was to recreate the fluffy and soft texture of traditional wheat buns. With a traditional recipe like Hot Cross Buns, it was also important to me to stay as close as possible to original flavor, which is why I decided to use yeast and sugar-free “candied” peel.
What are Hot Cross Buns?
But let’s start at the beginning. What’s so special about hot cross buns? These spiced and sweetened buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in much of the western world (though I’ve never encountered them in Germany). The first record of hot cross buns comes from 18th century London, but likely similar, spiced breads were made before that time. They mark the end of Christian lent and represent the Christ’s crucifixion with the white cross on top. The spices used in the bread remind us of the spices used for Jesus’ embalmment.
How to make keto buns with YEAST!
How can a yeast dough rise without flour? The trick is to add some sugar (2 teaspoons) to the dough. Don’t worry! The sugar will be completely “eaten” by the yeast. Through this fermentation process, the yeast excretes carbon dioxide, which makes our buns so fluffy and soft! Fermentation also gives yeast bread its amazing aroma and flavor! If you are worried about any leftover trace amounts of sugar in your baked rolls, you can also use inulin instead of sugar. Inulin is a pre-biotic fiber that yeast can consume.
Now, keep your expectations real. While the yeast does gain rising power through sugar (or inulin) in grain-free bread, it’s not as strong as in regular wheat bread. The rising process also takes a little longer than what you may be used to. Nonetheless, the results are simply amazing!
Tips for recreating Hot Cross Buns without flour!
Raisins. Because my kids like them so much, I added 3 tablespoons of raisins to the dough. The calculation for nutrition facts was done WITHOUT raisins. If you want to add raisins, it will add carbs to your buns. Three tablespoons of raisins adds about 2g of carbs to each bun! To prepare the raisins, chop them up roughly and place in a bowl with warm water for about 5 minutes. This way they will get nice and juicy. Them simply strain them and add them to the dough.
Candied peel. Candied orange or lemon peel are part of traditional hot cross buns, so I didn’t want to leave them out. Store-bought candied peel is filled with sugar and not suitable for low-carb baking (I also find that they taste YUCK). Luckily, I have a great sugar-free recipe for “candied” peel that works just perfect for our buns.
Making homemade candied peel is very simple, but you need to make them at least one day in advance. So, if you want to use them for this recipe, make sure to plan ahead.
If you rather skip the extra step of preparing candied peel, I suggest using orange and lemon zest for the buns. That way you will still get that amazing citrus aroma that you will find in traditional hot cross buns!
Warm ingredients. We need optimal conditions for using yeast as a leavener in keto buns. Use room temperature eggs and yogurt for your dough. I like to take the required wet ingredients from the fridge (and into the bowl) about half an hour BEFORE I start baking. That way, they have enough time to come to room temperature. YEAST DOESN’T LIKE COLD!
Yeast food. By definition, keto bread is low in carbs. That’s bad news for yeast! Our yeast needs food. Just 2 teaspoons of sugar will do! I use coconut sugar, but you can also add 2 teaspoons of (natural) maple syrup or honey. Inulin is another option. It’s a pre-biotic fiber that’s often used as a sweetener in keto recipes that provides yeast with some power food.
Blooming. Activating or blooming dry, active yeast is not technically necessary, but it helps speed up the rising process. This process also tests if your yeast is still alive or good. The lifespan of dry yeast is just a few months and after that is loses its rising power.
To bloom or activate yeast for the hot cross buns, warm up 1/4 cup of heavy cream. The liquid should feel warm NOT hot (about 105-115 F). Add 2 teaspoons of sugar (or inulin) and 2 1/4 teaspoons (one small package) of dry yeast. Whisk, cover with a kitchen cloth, and let sit in a warm place for 6-8 minutes. If your yeast is active, the mixture should have expanded and look very bubbly. If it doesn’t look bubbly and foamy, your yeast is dead and you need to try a new batch.
Rising. Once you have combined all the ingredients for your keto dough, it’s time to let it rise! Only once though because keto yeast dough doesn’t like to rise often! Shape your keto buns, place them on the lined baking sheet, and cover. You can use a dish towel, a lid that came with the baking sheet, or even a large bowl turned upside-down.
Pick a warm, dark, draft-free place for rising. I like to use the oven. If you have a bread-proofing switch on your oven, you can use that. Another way to turn your oven into a proof box, is to place a large empty dish or pan in the bottom of the oven and fill it with hot, boiling water. Let the dough rise for 1.5-2 hours!
Power ingredients. Apple cider vinegar and ground ginger are power ingredients that boost the yeast’s rising power. Don’t worry, the small amounts we use will not affect the taste of the baked rolls. If you don’t have ginger on hand, you can omit it. The dough can still rise without it.
Oat fiber. Since using oat fiber for my Keto Air Fryer Bread I have become a big fan of this ingredient! Oat fiber not only improves the texture of keto bread, but it also helps yeast-leavened breads to rise and hold their shape! Don’t worry, oat fiber is a keto-friendly ingredient! It’s made from the non-digestible oat hull, NOT the high-carb oat grains. Because it’s a fiber, it works great for low-carb recipes.
Bring back tradition with keto-friendly Hot Cross Buns!
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MORE LOW-CARB EASTER RECIPES
Gluten-Free Keto Hot Cross Buns (with Yeast)
- 9"x13" baking pan or square 10"x10" pan
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2¼ tsp dry yeast 1 small package
- 2 tsp sugar coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, or inulin
- 5 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk (use egg white for egg wash)
- ½ cup Greek yogurt full fat
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup granular erythritol
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups almond flour blanched
- 6 tbsp coconut flour
- 2 tbsp oat fiber
- 2 tbsp psyllium husk powder
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ cup homemade candied orange/lemon peel chopped, or grated zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 1 egg white reserved from above
- 1 tbsp water
- Heat heavy cream until warm (NOT hot), about 105-115 °F. Whisk in sugar (or inulin) and yeast, cover, and let sit for 6-8 minutes until bubbly and foamy.
- Line 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- While yeast is blooming, whisk together eggs and 1 egg yolk in a large bowl. Add yogurt, melted butter, erythritol, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in activated yeast/heavy cream mixture. Add almond flour, coconut flour, oat fiber, psyllium husk, xanthan gum, spices, and salt (if using lemon/orange zest, add at this time, too). Let sit for 5 minutes for moisture to absorb. If dough feels too wet to shape into rolls, add more coconut flour (one tbsp at a time and give 2 minutes to absorb moisture each time).
- Add chopped homemade "candied" peel. Stir until well combined.
- Divide the dough into 10 equal parts (about 1/3 cup per bun). With greased hands (I used olive oil) shape the dough into balls and arranged on lined baking pan.
- Cover baking sheet with lid, dish towel, or bowl, and let rolls rise for 1-2 hours. Pick a warm spot (like oven*). Buns should look puffed up and be touching one another.
Egg Wash and Baking
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and water. Brush egg wash over the buns.
- Bake for 25 minutes until buns look golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool down completely.
- Whisk together icing ingredients in a small bowl. Add enough heavy cream for the icing to feel soft but not runny. Scoop icing into an icing bag (with either a round piping tip or just cut a small hole into your icing bag/ziplock bag).
- Once buns are completely cooled down, pipe a cross on each bun.