Why You Should Weigh Ingredients vs. Measuring With Cups

The choice to weigh ingredients vs. measuring with cups can make all the difference in your recipe. Digital kitchen scales are one of the most invaluable tools at your disposal as a cook or baker. They help to produce accurate and reliable results from recipes. Plus they are inexpensive and only take up a small amount of space in your kitchen. Why don’t we all use them?

baker weighing flour in a glass mixing bowl

I am a British baker and as such I was taught to weigh my ingredients with scales using the metric system. When I first began reading recipes online, a lot of which were American, I was completely confounded by the ingredients list. A cup of sugar? A pint of blueberries? Not to mention a stick of butter? I was absolutely lost at sea with these weird units of measurements.

Fannie Farmer, the director of the Boston Cook School, invented the dry measuring cup in 1896. She was convinced this would be an essential kitchen utensil. And for many bakers and cooks it still is and using digital scales can seem an intimidating prospect. I’m here to explain that using scales is so much easier, quicker and more reliable.

These days I do own a couple of sets of measuring cups as I do hate to be left out but measuring ingredients by volume has its drawbacks. For years there has been a movement among professional bakers to encourage home cooks to buy a set of scales and for recipe developers to include metric weights in recipes. Here’s why.

A set of scales and a set of measuring cups

The size of the measuring cup is not universal

Did you know this? You really have to check what standard cup the recipe developer is using otherwise your ingredient measurements could be all over the place. Maybe not a big deal if you’re measuring a cup of chopped tomatoes for a salad but it is rather important if you’re measuring a cup of sugar for a birthday cake.

US Standard Cup size = 240ml
Metric Cup Size (used in Australia, Canada) = 250ml

The UK doesn’t really use cups as a term of measurement but we can still buy them over here and we use the metric cup size too.

TIP: You can’t use your UK measuring cups for US recipes. They are not compatible.

Measuring cups are not accurate

Did you know that many home cooks use their measuring cups in varying ways?

For example, flour. The correct way to measure flour is to spoon your flour loosely into your measuring cup then level off the top with a knife.

However many bakers use the dip and sweep method. Dipping their measuring cup into their bag of flour, which has the effect of packing the flour into the cup. This can create a totally different amount of flour as the previous method.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats once completed an experiment with 10 different people to measure a cup of flour. The results ranged from anywhere between 4-6 ounces. This could make a huge difference in a simple sponge cake.

It’s not just flour either. A cup of kale can totally depend on whether you pack that kale tightly in or balance it loosely in the cup. A cup of chopped mushrooms can depend how big or small those mushrooms are chopped.

Weighing your ingredients is a lot more accurate. 100g of any ingredient cannot really be measured any differently as long as your scales are calibrated correctly.

More washing up

If you bake or cook frequently it’s unlikely you can get away with just one set of measuring cups or spoons in your kitchen. Not unless you want to be washing them up in between every single ingredient.

On top of that there will always be more washing up anyway if you’re using cups. Using digital scales you can weigh directly into your mixing bowl which means your kitchen isn’t inundated with dirty utensils.

flour in a mixing bowl on a set of scales

How do you weigh ingredients for baking?

If you are using a pair of digital kitchen scales then by using the tare function many recipes can be turned into one bowl affairs, requiring no further utensils than a mixing bowl and your scales. At the most I usually use two mixing bowls. In one I weigh out all my dry ingredients and the other I weigh out my wet ingredients.

What is the tare function?

This is when you set the empty weight of a container to zero. If you place your mixing bowl on the scales and press the tare function you can weigh your ingredients without including the weight of the bowl.

Since many gluten-free cake recipes may include more than one flour this is invaluable.

  1. Place the mixing bowl on the scales.
  2. Press the tare function so it reads zero.
  3. Pour out the first flour directly from the bag until the correct weight has been reached.
  4. Press the tare function again.
  5. Pour out the second flour directly on top of the first flour until the correct weight of that flour has been reached.
  6. Repeat until all the flours are in the mixing bowl then whisk thoroughly to combine.

TIP – Use metal mixing bowls

If you do weigh out all your ingredients directly into the mixing bowl it’s imperative to use lightweight bowls so as not to overload the scales. I love using metal ones as they don’t weigh much and are easy to clean. Plastic mixing bowls tend to absorb flavours and oils a bit more.

Are digital scales expensive?

A reasonably priced set of digital scales are about £10. I actually own two sets, just in case the first set runs out of batteries. There was that time that both scales had run out of batteries but I think that accounts more for my disorganisation than any fault with using scales.

Other uses for kitchen scales

It’s not just weighing out the ingredients at the start of a recipe for which digital kitchen scales are indispensable. I use my scales in every step of the baking or cooking process.

Uniformity

If you want all your chocolate truffles, energy balls, hot cross buns or burgers to be the same size, then weigh them before rolling out or shaping.

Gluten-Free Cake

Even Cake Layers

A digital kitchen scale ensures that your two (or more!) cake layers are of equal size and weight, making for a beautifully balanced cake.

  1. Place one lined and greased cake tin on the scales.
  2. Press the tare function.
  3. Weigh out about half your cake batter directly into the tin.
  4. Remove the cake tin and place the second empty lined and greased cake tin on the scales.
  5. Press the tare function again and weigh out the second layer of cake batter.

Your two cake layers will bake at exactly the same rate meaning your cake will be level and perfect.

Weighing Liquid

I always weigh liquid rather than using the measuring jug. It’s a lot more accurate and definitely quicker. However, I do still weigh my liquid in the measuring jug itself as it’s easier to pour it out that way.

Grams and millilitres are usually interchangeable so if a recipe requires 240ml of water then 240g of water is the equivalent.

TIP: For ease you can also weigh your water directly from the tap. Place the scales and the measuring jug under the tap and then just turn it on until you have achieved the right amount.

measuring spoons in a glass jar

Why are measuring spoons used?

There is a slight exception to my commitment to the metric system. You might notice in my recipes that I do use measuring spoons for some ingredients.

This is usually when the amounts are very small. So, for baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, vanilla extract, citrus zest, herbs, salt and spices I will pick up my measuring spoons.

Inexpensive digital scales don’t tend to measure these small amounts brilliantly. You can buy scales that specialise in these smaller amounts. But, it’s easier in these cases to use measuring spoons and it rarely results in any inaccuracies.

TIP: Maybe you need to measure a tablespoon of honey or peanut butter. Brush the inside of the measuring spoon with oil before scooping up your honey or peanut butter. That sticky liquid will flow right out.

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

When I began baking from recipes I found on the internet, most of the ones I was keen to try were the recipes that I hadn’t heard of before. Red velvet cakes, whoopie pies and turtle brownies. These recipes didn’t look or sound like anything you could buy at a British bakery. So for me these recipes only existed at the time on American websites. I really wanted to make them so l quickly learnt to convert from cups to grams.

How do you convert recipes from volume to weight?

Converting recipes from volume to weight is easy, as long as you know the country of origin of the recipe. As explained above the US cup and the metric cup are different.

There are many conversion tools out there. Or, it’s pretty easy to just type your conversion query into google. Most of the time though, the measurements I need to convert are the basic ones for baking and these I have more or less memorised.

1 cup plain flour (most gf flours)120g
1 cup caster sugar225g
1 cup brown sugar200g
1 cup butter125g
1 stick butter115g
1 cup milk240g
1 cup honey350g
1 tablespoon15g
1 teaspoon5g

However, converting from weight to volume is a lot trickier. You can find you have strange amounts. For example a recipe which calls for 100g flour is 3/4 of a cup plus a few tablespoons. So it’s little more difficult to measure. This is where you might need a little trial and error when converting your recipe.

TIP: There are many unit conversion apps available which are so handy if you don’t like using a calculator. Have a look at the best ones rounded up here.

Final note. It may be slightly confusing that your digital scales are referred to in the plural. After all, it is just one scale. However, it’s just a relic term stemming from the old traditional pair of scales. Wow, now they were also a fun method of measurement, I celebrated the day I got rid of mine and bought my digital ones. Game changer.

If you like this post then you may like these other baking tips:

Why I Don’t Bake With Xanthan Gum

25 Tips for Baking Perfect Cakes

The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes

This post is not sponsored but some the images above are affiliate links. This means if you decide you want to use these links to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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baker weighing flour in a glass mixing bowl plus an image of flour in a mixing bowl on a set of scales with text overlay

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is absolutely stunning. A beautifully spiced moist and fluffy sponge crammed with shredded carrots. Filled and decorated with the dreamiest cream cheese buttercream and sprinkled with candied carrots.

overhead view of gluten-free carrot cake

The joy that a simple carrot cake can bring is unbeatable. It feels so happy and homely. Our family were big fans of this cake over the past week and we were all sad when we finally finished the last slice. Although I think my jeans were thankful.

I usually have a tendency to include a lot of add-ins in my carrot cake from nuts and dried fruit to coconut. For this cake though I went back to basics. This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is a more traditional affair which is almost elevated in status because of its simplicity.

In no way though is it inferior in flavour. Far from it. This cake positively brims with personality, thanks to the gentle spices, a spike of black pepper and the carefully chosen gluten-free flours. And it is all brought together with an easy dreamy cream cheese buttercream that you could happily eat with a spoon.

gluten-free carrot cake on a wooden plate on a table

How to make Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This cake is beautifully straightforward to put together. There are no special techniques and only two bowls are needed. One for weighing and one for mixing. Here are the basic details.

  1. Mix the muscovado sugar with the orange zest.
  2. Add the olive oil, eggs and the vanilla extract.
  3. Whisk the flours with the raising agents and spices.
  4. Add the flours to the batter and mix.
  5. Finally add the shredded carrots.
  6. Divide into the two baking tins.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes.
  8. Remove from the cake tins and leave to cool before assembling.

Muscovado Sugar. We use muscovado sugar here for its deep rich caramel flavour. There is also a little more moisture involved than regular caster sugar so it helps to make the cake beautifully moist.

Orange Zest. The bright citrus note lifts the cake and really enhances the carroty flavour.

Olive Oil. In the past I have used melted butter to make my carrot cakes but here we use a light olive oil for two reasons. It is an easier ingredient to grab off the shelf but it is also lighter than butter so the cake is a little more fluffy.

  • Baker’s Tip – make sure you use light olive oil which has a neutral taste. Absolutely not extra virgin olive oil which would be far too powerful in this instance.

Black Pepper. The heat and spice of the black pepper is extremely subtle but it adds a special background note to the spice blend. For this carrot cake it’s all about layers of flavour.

Which flours to use for a gluten-free carrot cake

For this recipe we only need two gluten-free fours. No starchy flour is needed here because this recipe uses a lot of eggs to compensate (5!) and the carrots give us a lot of moisture so we don’t need to worry about any dryness or crumbliness.

  • Brown Rice Flour – this flour gives a beautiful whole grain earthiness. You can use white rice flour if you like.
  • Sorghum Flour – the flavour of this flour is so good. It is slightly nutty, slightly sweet and perfectly robust.

How to grate carrots for a carrot cake

In order for the cake to bake evenly with no lumpy carrot bits the carrots need to be grated in equal size and length.
By using the thinner grater attachment on your food processor or a julienne peeler you can achieve perfectly grated carrots.

However, don’t worry if you only have a box grater or microplane so grating the carrots by hand is your only option:

  1. Use the widest setting and smoothly bring the peeled carrot down the grater in one movement.
  2. Lift the carrot off and bring it down the grater again.
  3. Continue until you have a nub of carrot left then discard it.
  4. Rubbing the carrot up and down the grater damages the flesh of the carrot which causes it to succumb to watery clumps.

Baker’s Tip The higher quality carrots you use in this recipe the better your cake will taste. There really is a difference between the strong, slightly sweet and earthy carrots you can buy from the farmers’ market and the bland water carrots available from the supermarket. Obviously I recommend the former.

What add-ins can you include in a carrot cake?

This recipe keeps the carrot cake beautifully plain and simple. However, you don’t have to make your carrot cake that way. There are plenty of optional add-ins you can stir into the batter just before pouring into the cake tins which you might like to include. You can add a handful of any of the below ingredients.

  • Diced dried fruit – Sultanas, apricots or pineapple
  • Chopped nuts – Any would be delicious but particularly pecans or walnuts
  • Seeds – pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • Diced crystallised ginger – check out my recipe for the best Homemade Crystallised Ginger.

If you are really looking to spruce up your carrot cake then try this Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake, it is packed with sultanas, chopped pecans and shredded apple. Not to mention the delightfully earthy notes of fresh golden beetroot.

A bowl of cream cheese buttercream

How to make the best Cream Cheese Buttercream

Cream cheese buttercream is a match made in heaven for a carrot cake. This particular recipe is my absolute go-to and I use it also for this Red Velvet Cake. It has minimal ingredients and takes under 8 minutes to whip up.

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter for 6 minutes until extremely light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, salt and cream cheese.
  3. Beat to combine.

Baker’s Tips

  • Use full fat cream cheese if you can. The taste is far superior and I find it whips much better into the buttercream.
  • If you are using a stand mixer, before you mix the icing sugar and butter wrap a tea towel around the mixer so the icing sugar doesn’t escape and cause a sugar cloud around your kitchen. Begin the mixer on low then build up speed once the sugar and butter are properly incorporated which also helps with the sugar cloud.
  • This Cream Cheese Buttercream is quite soft so decorate the cake as soon as your buttercream is ready as it doesn’t like being out of the fridge. Keep the cake in the fridge if the atmosphere is very warm.

A slice of gluten-free carrot cake on a plate

How to make candied carrots

I can’t help it, I decorate all my carrot cakes with candied carrots. They are easy, incredibly delicious and deliver an excellent crunchy contrast on the top of the cake.

  1. Prepare a sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water.
  2. Add the shredded carrots and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Drain and pat-dry the carrots.
  5. Spread the carrots out onto a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
  6. Turn off the oven, remove the carrots and sprinkle them with caster sugar.
  7. Return the carrots to the oven, leaving the door open, for two hours, so the sugared carrots can dry out.

Baker’s Tip: You need the shredded carrots to be really dry after they have been boiled in the sugar syrup so they don’t become soggy in the oven.

Storage. The candied carrots can keep unrefrigerated for up to two weeks in an airtight container lined with kitchen paper to ensure any residual moisture is wicked away.

overview of a cut gluten-free carrot cake with slices on plates next to it

Are you looking for more Spring Cakes?

Vanilla Almond Cake with Lemon Curd Glaze
Simnel Cake
Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake

Or perhaps Vegetable Cakes?

Courgette Oatmeal Cake
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake

If you make this Gluten-Free Carrot Cake then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is absolutely stunning. A beautifully spiced moist and fluffy sponge crammed with shredded carrots. Filled and decorated with the dreamiest cream cheese buttercream and sprinkled with candied carrots.
Prep Time1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Keyword: carrot cake, celebration cake, cream cheese buttercream, gluten-free cake
Servings: 12 people
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 320 g light brown muscovado sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 300 g light olive oil
  • 5 eggs medium sized
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 225 g brown rice flour
  • 75 g sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 350 g grated carrot about 4-5 large carrots

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 350 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 400 g icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250 g cream cheese straight from the fridge

Candied Carrot

  • 2 carrots grated (about 250g)
  • 125 ml water
  • 100 g caster sugar

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan assisted oven/gas 3 and line and grease two 8 inch x 4 inch round cake tins.
  • Whisk the sugar with the orange zest until fragrant.
  • Add the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices, salt and black pepper.
  • Fold the flour into the wet ingredients one third at a time.
  • Stir in the grated carrots until completely combined.
  • Divide the batter between the two baking tins and bake for about 35 minutes (cover with foil after 20 mins).

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • Cream the butter and icing sugar and mix for about 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Add the salt and vanilla and mix again to combine.
  • Finally add the cream cheese and mix until just combined.

Candied Carrot

  • Pour the water and sugar into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Then turn down to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add the carrot and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Strain the carrots and pat dry.
  • Place on a baking parchment lined tray and bake at 180°C/160 /gas 4 for 12 minutes.
  • Turn off the oven, remove the carrots and sprinkle them with the caster sugar.
  • Return the carrots to the oven, leaving the door open, for two hours, so the sugared carrots can dry out.

Assembly

  • Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or cake stand.
  • Fill a piping bag with half of the buttercream. Pipe concentric circles around the top of the cake layer. Use a small spatula to smooth so it creates an even middle layer of buttercream.
  • Place the second layer of cake on top of the buttercream.
  • Pipe concentric circles around the top of the cake layer. Use a small spatula to smooth so it creates an even surface layer of buttercream.
  • Use the spatula to spread a thin layer of buttercream around the sides of the cake to create a naked look.
  • Pipe buttercream, using a piping tip of your choice, around the top of the cake. Then sprinkle candied carrots all over the surface.

Notes

General Baking Notes: All recipes are developed with medium eggs, good quality vanilla extract (not essence) and kosher salt.
Oven Temperature. I prefer to bake gluten-free cakes in fan-assisted ovens as they dry out the cake a little more. Gluten-free flours need more moisture in the batter so the fan-assisted oven helps the cakes cook more evenly.
Gluten-Free Flours. You can use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour. You could also use gluten-free oat flour instead of sorghum flour.
Olive Oil. It’s important to use light olive oil, not extra virgin or regular olive oil as you want the flavour of the oil to be more or less neutral. You could also use refined coconut oil or melted butter. The latter will give a richer taste.
Grated Carrots. The carrots should be grated in even strips of equal size. I recommend using the grating attachment on your food processor or a julienne peeler for perfectly shredded carrots.
Cream Cheese Buttercream – for the lightest buttercream the icing sugar and butter should be beaten together for at least 5-6 minutes on a medium-high setting.
Storage Because of the cream cheese in the buttercream the cake should be stored in the fridge where it will keep well for about 5 days. Bring the cake back to room temperature before serving.
Freezing. The carrot cake itself can be frozen before decorating with the buttercream. Wrap the two layers up individually. Wrap well in cling film, then in foil to ensure no freezer-burn. You can store for up to three months. Remove the cake layers from the freezer the night before you want to decorate the cake. Defrost, then remove the wrapping and decorate as normal.

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overview of gluten-free carrot cake and a slice of cake on a plate with text overlay

Gluten-Free Fish and Chips

These Gluten-Free Fish and Chips are a healthier alternative to the chip shop. Perfectly crisp pan-fried cod, oven baked chips and of course a cheeky side of from-scratch curry sauce.

A plate of fish and chips with curry sauce

What are you going to be enjoying Good Friday? We are old school and will be having Hot Cross Buns and Fish and Chips. I have very strong memories of my Mum and Nan standing by a bubbling pan of hot oil about to embark on our annual attempt at deep frying. It was such a treat having homemade fish and chips at home. I’m sure they weren’t perfectly cooked, my Mum is the first to admit her strengths did not lie in the kitchen, but I remember them being utterly delicious. We’re setting aside the deep fat fryer today for a slightly healthier version but believe me it’s no less delicious.

Why are Fish and Chips traditional in Britain?

The tradition of Great British Fish and Chips goes back over 160 years. It’s a bit of a fusion dish, the fried fish having made its way from Portugal or Spain. Meanwhile in the North of England deep fried chipped potatoes were becoming popular. It seems the two met in the middle and fish and chip shops became highly popular in Victorian England.

Of course we now consider Fish and Chips our national dish with the local chippy being the stalwart of the British high street. In our house Fish and Chips is usually a Friday affair and on Good Friday it’s a firm tradition.

A plate of fish and chips with curry sauce with a bite taken out

Why do you eat fish on Good Friday?

Red meat is often avoided on Good Friday. This stems back centuries with Christians wishing to honour the death of Christ by abstaining from the consumption of warm blooded animals. Fish was considered an every day meal and thus, fine for Good Friday.

Battered, Grilled or Pan-Fried?

These days I usually eschew the deep fried fish when we go out for a family meal to the chippy. Yes, it’s partly because I’m gluten-free, although it’s good to know that a lot of Fish and Chip shops offer gluten-free batter these days. However, I often find fish can often be overwhelmed by the batter and I enjoy it without the heavy jacket.

This recipe enjoys the best of both worlds. Here we take beautifully fresh cod fillets and pan fry them in a light coating of almond flour and tapioca flour. I have in the past been intimidated to pan fry fish, frightened that it will all fall apart but I’m here to tell you that it’s quick and easy.

Two image side by side of fresh cod fillet, one is covered in flour

How to pan-fry fish

Cook your chips and your curry sauce before you start on the fish. That way your attention won’t be diverted. Don’t worry the fish takes no time at all so nothing will go cold.

  1. Whisk the flours together with the seasoning on a large plate.
  2. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Dredge the fish through the flour mix, shaking off the excess.
  4. Heat the pan for about 1 minute until it just begins to smoke.
  5. Add the ghee or oil. Then immediately…
  6. Pan fry the fish. Cook for 2 minutes on one side, flip carefully with a spatula then finish for 2 minutes on the other side.
  7. Serve immediately.

A plate of fish and chips with curry sauce

Cook’s Tips

  • The Skin. You can choose to fry the fish with the skin on or off. Skin-on means the fillet holds together slightly better. But if you don’t like eating the skin then the crisp underside of the fish seems wasted. I prefer skin off.
  • Cast Iron Skillet. This is the perfect pan to use to pan-fry your fish as it heats evenly. Heat the pan up before you add the oil. This ensures you are cooking the fish at the optimum temperature. The thick heavy base also means the fish isn’t too close to the heat source which helps for this delicate ingredient.
  • Cooking Fat. Here I recommend to fry the fish in ghee. It has a high smoking temperature so won’t burn like butter but it retains a lovely buttery flavour. However, you can cook with a light olive oil if you don’t have any ghee.

How to buy sustainable fish

Cod is one of the five most popular fish to buy in the UK. As such it can be problematic so make sure you are buying from a certified sustainable source. If you are in doubt a few great alternatives to cod are coley, pouting or pollock.

Two images side by side of potatoes and cut potatoes

Oven-Baked Chips

Home-baked chips are legendary in our household. I have never felt them inferior to the deep fried variety. They are safe, no spitting fat and no drama. Par-boiling is also unnecessary if the potatoes are cut thin enough.

  • Cooking Fat. Use a light olive oil which is flavourless but give a good crispy chip. However, if you are feeling like a splurge there is nothing like beef dripping or chicken dripping chips. Maybe not for abstentious Good Friday though.
  • Potato Variety. Use a waxy variety of potato, it holds together more with lovely texture. Try Charlotte potatoes or Cyprus potatoes.
  • Vinegar. It is necessary to serve your chips with salt and vinegar once they are cooked. Malt vinegar is traditional but not gluten-free. To be honest I prefer the sweeter vinegars anyway such as apple cider vinegar or even chardonnay wine vinegar.

chips in a roasting dish with a spatula

The Sides

Do you prefer curry sauce, mushy peas or gravy with your fish and chips? Curry sauce is a favourite of mine. It is often criticised for interfering with the fish batter too much and getting it all soggy. However it goes excellently with our pan-fried fish.

The curry sauce you get from the chippy usually contains gluten which is a great pity. Lucky then for this recipe that it’s easy to make your own from scratch.

Two images side by side of spice mix and then curry sauce

How to make gluten-free Chip Shop Curry Sauce

This is a quick curry sauce. Not as quick as the one at the chippy which often use a ready-made mix that you just add water to. But we’re not far off. This recipe is full of spice and a little sweet and tangy. Perfect for dunking your chips into.

  1. Pop the mustard seeds
  2. Add the ghee, the spices then the tapioca flour
  3. Whisk in the stock, slowly
  4. Add the date and vinegar
  5. Cook for 5 minutes
  6. Blend and serve

Cook’s Tips

  • The ghee isn’t a hard and fast choice, although I do love the flavour. You can use light olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Fresh chicken stock elevates the curry sauce into something really special. However, you can use vegetable stock.
  • I like to use a medjool date to sweeten this curry sauce. However, you can use 2 teaspoons of honey or 1 teaspoon sugar. If you are using an alternative then you can skip the blending.

A plate of fish and chips with curry sauce

The beauty of this Gluten-Free Fish and Chip recipe is that with just a few tweaks you can completely transform the final outcome.

Make Fish and Chips Your Way

  • Add some flavour to your chips. Try ½ teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning.
  • Swap the regular chips for sweet potato chips.
  • Add lemon zest, a ¼ teaspoon of paprika and ¼ teaspoon mustard powder to the flour coating of the fish.
  • If curry sauce isn’t your thing then try parsley butter, a squeeze of lime or salsa verde.

More Classic British recipes you may like

Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie
Gluten-Free Yorkshire Puddings
Simple Salmon Fishcakes
Bangers and Mash

If you make these Gluten-Free Fish and Chips then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Gluten-Free Fish and Chips

These Gluten-Free Fish and Chips are a healthier alternative to the chip shop. Perfectly crisp pan-fried cod, oven baked chips and of course a cheeky side of from-scratch curry sauce.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Servings: 2 people
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

Chips

  • 400 g white potatoes cut into chips
  • 4 tablespoons light olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar

Chip Shop Curry Sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of kosher salt depending on if you are using stock
  • tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 medjool date pitted, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 150 ml chicken stock

Fish

  • 2 x 200g cod fillets
  • 40 g almond flour
  • 15 g tapioca flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil or coconut oil

Instructions

Chips

  • Pre-heat oven to 190°C/170°C fan assisted/gas mark 5.
  • Place a roasting tray into oven to heat up.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut into chips, 1cm width.
  • Remove roasting tray from the oven and pour in the olive oil.
  • Toss the chips in the olive oil and add the seasoning. Make sure the chips are spread out as evenly as possible.
  • Bake the chips for 45 minutes, carefully tossing the chips every 15 minutes.
  • Serve the chips with a small drizzle of apple cider vinegar.

Chip Shop Curry Sauce

  • Place the mustard seeds in a small saucepan and dry fry for 30 seconds so they pop.
  • Add the ghee which will then melt.
  • Add the spices and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the tapioca flour and whisk to combine.
  • Add the stock slowly, whisking all the time until the sauce becomes very thick.
  • Add the medjool date and the apple cider vinegar, lower the heat and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and blend with a hand blender.

Fish

  • Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. Set aside while you prepare the pan.
  • Place your dry cast iron skillet on medium heat and bring up to temperature. The pan will start to smoke slightly when ready.
  • Mix the flours with the seasoning on a large plate, then dredge the fish fillets with the flour. Shake off the excess.
  • Add the ghee to the pan then immediately place the fish fillets in the pan.
  • Cook for two minutes, then flip the fish over carefully and cook on the other side for a further two minutes.

Notes

CHIPS
  • Waxy Potatoes. I use waxy potatoes which means the chips hold together better. How to cut the chips. Cut the potato into 1cm slices lengthways, then cut the slices into 1cm width chips.
  • Spatula. Toss the chips gently with a silicone or plastic spatula. A metal one tends to break up the potato too much.
  • Vinegar. It’s traditional to splash a bit of vinegar over your chips. I love a bit of apple cider vinegar and plenty of salt. You could also use a good white wine vinegar such as chardonnay.
CURRY SAUCE
  • Tapioca Flour. You could also use sweet rice flour.
  • Chicken Stock. You can use vegetable stock or bouillon or just plain water. The chicken stocks gives a fuller flavour.
  • Medjool Date – you can swap for 2 teaspoons honey or 1 teaspoon sugar. Apple Cider Vinegar. You can sub for lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
FISH
  • Cod. You can also use coley or pollock.
  • Skin. You can remove or retain the skin. I found if I left the skin on the fish holds together a little better but not enough that it was worth it. I prefer no skin.
  • Cast iron skillet. This will help the fish cook evenly.
  • Ghee. I use ghee because of its high smoking temperature so it doesn’t burn easily and has a lot of flavour. You can substitute with olive oil or coconut oil. Fry your fish one fillet at a time so you don’t crowd the pan and you can concentrate on each one.

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A plate of fish and chips with curry sauce with text overlay

Gluten-Free Simnel Cake

This Gluten-Free Simnel Cake is a traditional Easter fruit cake decorated with marzipan balls to represent the apostles. This deliciously modern version has been lightened up and baked in a beautiful bundt tin.

Simnel Cake on a wire rack on a wooden board

This Gluten-Free Simnel Cake is a classic recipe from the blog. The recipe has been updated with gluten-free ingredients. There are new photos and the method and post content have been updated for clarity.

What is Simnel Cake?

Simnel Cake is a light fruit cake, synonymous with Easter. Crammed with marzipan, dried fruit and spices. Simnel Cakes have been baked since medieval times to celebrate the end of Lent fasting. Although Wikipedia says that they were originally baked during Lent to break up the fasting.

Mothering Sunday

It’s also interesting that they were adopted for a time by Mothering Sunday as they were a constant presence in our house during Easter due to my Mum’s love of them. My Auntie Lil would dutifully make her one every year. It would reside comfortably in our larder, pecked at over a couple of weeks. Traditional Simnel Cakes can keep for a while but this lighter version has a shorter shelf life.

A slice of Simnel Cake on a plate

What does a Simnel Cake represent?

Simnel Cakes are instantly recognisable due to the eleven balls of marzipan perched symbolically around the edge of the cake like a confectionary crown. These marzipan balls represent the eleven aspostles, Judas is NFI for obvious reasons.

Growing up I was not a fan of Mum’s Simnel Cake. Auntie Lil would innocently decorate and colour the marzipan balls to bear a striking resemblance to Cadbury Mini Eggs. It left me terribly scarred which led me to eschew all Simnel Cakes until adulthood. When you are expecting chocolate and are met with marzipan the experience can leave a child feeling more than a little cheated.

Simnel Cake on a wire rack on a wooden board

Why is Simnel Cake called Simnel?

Well, now this is ironic. The Simnel Cake is called as such because the latin name for white flour is ‘simila’ and that is what was traditionally used to bake the cake. Not this cake my friend. We have used alternative gluten-free flours, only a couple of which are white.

Modernising a Simnel Cake

It must be said that my version of a Simnel Cake has been modernised a little. The intention, taste and celebratory feel is still present but this version is lighter. It also feels more celebratory baked in the beautiful bundt tin.

homemade marzipan dough rolled into balls on a wooden board

Marzipan

You often find Simnel Cakes to have a thick layer of marzipan in the centre of the cake as well as draped over the top. Instead we are following Delia’s example and dicing up our marzipan to be dispersed throughout the cake which isn’t so heavy hitting.

Baker’s Tip: Try using Homemade Marzipan. The switch from ready-made will transform your Simnel Cake immeasurably. The Homemade Marzipan almost melts into the centre of the cake which is utterly delicious. Plus I guarantee those marzipan balls will be fought over instead of instantly discarded.

Instead of the blanket of marzipan on the surface of the cake we are using a simple lemon icing, spiked with a little almond extract as a nod to the original.

Lightened Up Fruitcake

We are adding buttermilk to our cake batter here which makes for an amazingly moist, light and tangy fruitcake. A lovely contrast with the jewelled fruits.

Baker’s Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk then you can use 350ml whole milk + 1½ tbsp. lemon juice. Whisk together then let sit for five minutes before adding to your cake batter.

Gluten-Free Flours

Obviously the use of alternative flours is not traditional but their presence is completely undetectable. Here we use:

  • Sweet Rice Flour for its light neutral taste, we don’t want it to interfere with everything that’s going on. Plus it gives the cake bounce and binding power.
  • Gluten-Free Oat Flour for its tender crumb and lightness. Swap with sorghum flour if you can’t digest oats.
  • Potato Flour for its hydroscopic tendencies. It helps absorb excess moisture and gives lightness.

Simnel Cake on a wire rack on a wooden board

Bundt Tin. This Simnel Cake is baked in a bundt tin for a further celebratory feel. The marzipan balls then sit happily atop like an Easter garland.

Simnel Cake

Add-ins

We are keeping things traditional with the choice of add-ins:

  • natural marzipan
  • glacé cherries
  • sultanas
  • currants
  • mixed peel

Baker’s Tips:

  • I urge you wherever possible to try making homemade versions of these add-ins. There are recipes for the Homemade Marzipan, Homemade Glacé Cherries and Homemade Mixed Peel on this site. I guarantee you will notice the difference.
  • Ideally the add-ins should be evenly dispersed throughout the cake. Stir them in a little oat flour to coat before adding them into the batter and it should stop them from sinking.

How do you make Gluten-Free Simnel Cake?

  1. Cream the butter with the sugars and citrus zest until light and fluffy.
  2. Eggs. Add them in one at a time.
  3. Flours. Whisk the dry ingredients with the flour.
  4. Buttermilk. Add the flour alternately with the buttermilk.
  5. Add-ins. Finally stir in all the add-ins.
  6. Bake for 75 minutes in a moderate oven.
  7. Ice with a simple icing sugar + lemon icing.
  8. Decorate with the marzipan balls.

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake

How long does Gluten-Free Simnel Cake last for?

This Gluten-Free Simnel Cake won’t be as long lasting as a traditional Simnel Cake but it can certainly be kept for up to a week. Store in an airtight tin in a cool dark place. However, if you are using Homemade Marzipan balls then they should be eaten within three days due to the raw egg in the dough.

Simnel Cake on a wire rack on a wooden board

If you like this recipe then you may like:

Easy Homemade Marzipan
Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns
Easter-Spiced Chocolate Chip Scones
Easter Welsh Cakes

If you make this Gluten-Free Simnel Cake then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Gluten-Free Simnel Cake

Gluten-Free Simnel Cake is a traditional Easter fruit cake. This deliciously modern version has been lightened up and baked in a beautiful bundt tin.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Keyword: bundt cake, easter cake, simnel cake
Calories: 9517kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 225 g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 175 g light soft brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 175 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 eggs medium-sized
  • 175 g sweet rice flour
  • 175 g oat flour + 2 tablespoons for coating add-ins
  • 50 g potato flour
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 350 ml buttermilk

Add-ins

  • 150 g natural marzipan diced
  • 100 g glacé cherries diced
  • 125 g sultanas
  • 125 g currants
  • 50 g mixed peel

Icing

  • 200 g icing sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 275 g natural marzipan

Cake Tin

  • 2.4 litres bundt tin 10 cups

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C /gas 4 and grease your bundt tin with spray oil.
  • Beat the sugars together with the orange and lemon zest until fragrant.
  • Add the butter, a cube at a time so it creams with the sugar. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides every so often.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
  • Sift the flours in a separate mixing bowl with the almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture into the rest of the batter, alternately with the buttermilk, one third at a time until just combined.
  • Mix the marzipan, glace cherries, sultanas, currants and mixed peel together in a separate bowl then mix in the extra oat flour to coat. Stir the add-ins into the cake batter until evenly dispersed.
  • Pour the cake batter into the bundt tin and bake for about 75 minutes or until an inserted cocktail stick is removed clean. Check the cake at 30 minutes and cover loosely with foil if the cake is browning too much.
  • Remove from the oven, and leave for 5-10 minutes to rest in the tin before carefully turning out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Icing

  • Mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice a little at a time until smooth and thick but just pourable.
  • Stir in the almond extract.
  • Spoon the icing over the top of the cake.

Marzipan Balls

  • Weigh out eleven 25g pieces of marzipan.
  • Roll each marzipan piece between the palms of your hands into the shape of small eggs.
  • Place the eleven marzipan eggs around the top of the cake.

Notes

Oat Flour. If you can't digest oats then use sorghum flour in its place.
Buttermilk. If you don’t have any buttermilk then use 350ml whole milk + 1½ tbsp. lemon juice. Whisk together then let sit for five minutes before adding to your cake batter.
Marzipan. Homemade Marzipan is so quick and easy to make. It will take your cake from delicious to stunning.
Add-ins. Stir 2 tablespoons of oat flour into the add-ins to coat them and help them evenly disperse throughout the cake.
Storage. This Simnel Cake will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin in a cool dark place. However if you are using Homemade Marzipan balls then they should be eaten within three days due to the raw egg in the dough.

Nutrition

Calories: 9517kcal | Carbohydrates: 1464g | Protein: 158g | Fat: 365g | Saturated Fat: 119g | Cholesterol: 1069mg | Sodium: 3840mg | Potassium: 6412mg | Fiber: 61g | Sugar: 1024g | Vitamin A: 119.9% | Vitamin C: 16% | Calcium: 200.9% | Iron: 194.5%

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Simnel Cake on a wire rack on a wooden board with text inlay

Easy Homemade Marzipan

This Easy Homemade Marzipan is a delicious and achievable recipe which takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare. Fantastic for marzipan sweets, cake coverings or decorations. With this recipe you will never need to buy ready-made marzipan again.

homemade marzipan dough rolled into balls on a wooden board

If you had asked my former self whether I liked marzipan the answer would have been a resounding no. This is illogical though as I love almonds, they are definitely in my top five favourite foods. But I had never been totally convinced with the overly sweet and sickly marzipan I was familiar with.

In my next post I am going to be sharing my ultra special Easter Simnel Cake recipe of which marzipan plays a huge part. However, when I went to buy the marzipan which is the traditional decoration for a Simnel Cake I cast a quick glance at the ingredients on the back of the packet. It was grim reading. The main ingredient was sugar with only 25% almonds. I put it down and had a think. Surely marzipan doesn’t have to be this way?

homemade marzipan dough on a wooden board

It certainly does not. It turns out Homemade Marzipan is a culinary delight. Worlds away from the shop bought stuff. I had all the ingredients on hand ready to go and what’s more it was so easy. After making Homemade Marzipan I had a total revelation. Sam! I like marzipan. I do! I like it Sam-I-am!

It turns out I just don’t like commercially made marzipan. And maybe that’s the case for you too.

What is Marzipan?

Marzipan is made from ground almonds and sugar which are bound with egg to make a sweet dough. It’s most common use in the UK is to be rolled out and then cover formal cakes like wedding or Christmas cakes which are then decorated with royal icing.

However it can be so much more than that. Marzipan can also be moulded into beautiful shapes and figures then dyed to be eaten as confectionary or to decorate cakes. If you’ve seen the creative way Molly Yeh uses marzipan to style her cakes then you can appreciate how versatile this confection actually is.

Ingredients for homemade marzipan in a bowl

What are the Ingredients in Homemade Marzipan?

Ground Almonds
You need to use very finely ground almonds so that you can achieve a smooth marzipan dough. I choose shop bought in this instance over home ground. Good quality ground almonds or almond flour will have a nice fine even grind. However, it does elicit a blander taste but this is easily fixed with a touch of almond extract.

If you are using freshly ground almonds then the almond extract should not be necessary but your marzipan will be a little rougher.

Sugar
For the sugar this recipe uses a combination of icing sugar, caster sugar and golden syrup. The icing sugar helps create a smooth dough, the caster sugar gives body and the golden syrup helps with the viscosity.

Egg
You then need something to bind the almonds and sugars to create the dough and this recipe uses 1 medium egg. The yolk gives the marzipan a lovely rich taste and the egg white gives the dough an elasticity making it easy to roll out or mould.

A rolled dough of homemade marzipan on a wooden board

This recipe contains raw egg so please take care. The NHS states that because of improved food safety regulations raw eggs are safe for pregnant women, infants and the elderly if they are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice. This is standard for most British supermarket bought eggs. However you may want to check with your guests before serving that they are happy to consume.

Alternative to Raw Egg

You can cook the egg if you are worried about the raw egg. Heat the egg with the sugars, in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, until scalding hot. Remove from the heat and leave to cool before mixing with the ground almonds. Do note that this marzipan is more fragile to work with and doesn’t roll out as well.

homemade marzipan dough on a wooden board

How Do You Make Easy Homemade Marzipan?

Honestly there are just three simple steps. So much quicker than a walk to the shops.

Mix. You simply weigh out and mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Knead. Bring the dough together with your hands, kneading briefly until it has become a smooth ball.
Chill. Wrap in cling film and store in the fridge for a couple of hours when it will then be ready to roll out or mould.

How Long to Store Marzipan

Despite Homemade Marzipan containing raw egg it does keep surprisingly well. The sugars help prevent bacteria from forming. You can store the marzipan wrapped up tightly with cling film for up to a week in the fridge.

How to Marzipan a Cake

These instructions are for if you would like to use homemade marzipan for covering your Christmas or wedding fruit cake

  • Roll out the marzipan to 1cm thickness and 2cm wider than the size of your cake.
  • Brush the surface of the cake with apricot jam to create an adhesive.
  • Drape the rolled marzipan over the finished and cooled cake.
  • Tuck tightly around the cake, smoothing the top and sides with a flat edged cake smoother. Trim off the excess marzipan.
  • Leave the cake in a cool dark place for the marzipan to completely dry out (at least 2 days) before icing the cake with royal icing or fondant.
  • Once the cake has a final layer of icing the cake can keep for 1-2 months in a cool dark place.

homemade marzipan dough on a wooden board

If you like this recipe then you may like these other Essential Baking recipes:

Homemade Mixed Peel
Homemade Glace Cherries
Homemade Stem Ginger in Syrup
How To Temper Chocolate

I hope you give this Easy Homemade Marzipan a try and become a complete convert like me. If you do make this recipe then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Easy Homemade Marzipan

This Easy Homemade Marzipan is a delicious and achievable recipe which takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare. Perfect for marzipan sweets, cake coverings or decorations. 
Prep Time15 mins
Resting Time2 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cake decoration, christmas cake, marzipan
Servings: 450 grams
Calories: 6kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 300 g ground almonds
  • 150 g icing sugar plus extra for dusting
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 egg medium size
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract optional

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Once combined use your hands to knead into a smooth dough.
  • Dust extra icing sugar on the work surface and tip the dough out on top of it. Still using your hands roll the dough together until it forms a smooth ball with almost no stickiness.
  • Wrap in cling film and flatten the ball slightly to make it easier to roll out once ready.
  • Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours for the flavours to settle and the sugar to dissolve.

Notes

Almond Extract. If you are using home ground almonds then the almond taste might be strong enough for you. Shop bought ground almonds are blander so you might want to amp up the taste with the extract.
Storage. The marzipan contains raw egg. However the sugars helps prevent bacteria from growing. If you wrap the marzipan up well in cling film you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
Cake covering. If you are using this marzipan to cover a traditional fruit cake then you must let the marzipan completely dry before covering with royal icing (at least 2 days). The royal icing will prevent moisture getting to the marzipan and the iced cake can keep between 1-2 months in a cool dark place.

Nutrition

Calories: 6kcal | Calcium: 0.1% | Iron: 0.1%

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This post is not sponsored but the images above are affiliate links. This means if you decide you want to use these links to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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homemade marzipan dough with text

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns are sweetly spiced and studded with dried fruit. There is no xanthan gum involved and they are best served warm with a slick of salted butter.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

The scent of Easter has been afoot in my kitchen for a while now as I have been recipe testing the perfect Gluten-Free Hot Cross Bun. Every year I plan on this recipe but it has taken me a long time to perfect the right flour blend.

Fresh Hot Cross Buns from the bakery are one of my favourite things ever and I have been missing them like crazy. The good news is your gluten-free versions are finally here and they are easier to bake than you think.

This final version even passed Cole’s taste test. He declared them as good as the one Henry from football shared with him, and his had chocolate chips in it. Since all my previous batches had gone down like lead balloons with him I was confident that I was onto a winner here. There is no more exacting critic than a three and a half year old.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

What are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot Cross Buns are sweetly spiced buns studded with currants and recognisable for their white cross baked onto the surface of the bun. Traditionally Hot Cross Buns are eaten on Good Friday in the UK but really any time between January and April is perfectly acceptable (or between April and December).

Why are Hot Cross Buns eaten at Easter?

Hot Cross Buns symbolise the end of Lent. The cross on the top represents the cross on which Jesus was crucified and the spices signify the embalming of his body.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

How do you make Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns?

Fresh Homemade Hot Cross Buns are quicker to make than you think. Although you do need to include an hour for the dough to rest so do build that into your prep time. Here are the essential details:

  1. Make the dough. Flours, sugar, spices, yeast are whisked up then the eggs and milk are poured in and the dough is brought together.
  2. Add the dried fruit.
  3. Knead the dough, a little.
  4. Prove the dough for 1 hour.
  5. Shape the buns. Then place on the baking tray.
  6. Make the flour paste for the crosses. Pipe the crosses onto each bun.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Glaze the buns with a simple sugar syrup.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Gluten-Free Flours

To make these Hot Cross Buns gluten-free I have swapped out the wheat flour for the following alternative flours:

  1. Gluten-Free Oat Flour: Chosen to make the buns light and fluffy. However if you cannot digest oat flour then use 100g sorghum flour and 100g millet flour in its place.
  2. Almond Flour: Used for its soft tender crumb so the buns are not too dense. Plus flavour!
  3. Sweet Rice Flour: It helps bind the flour mix together so the buns are not dry and crumbly.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

What spices do you use in Hot Cross Buns?

Ground cinnamon and nutmeg are a must in a Hot Cross Bun. Ground mixed spice is also added here but if you don’t have it to hand you can substitute with an extra ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

What dried fruit do you put in Hot Cross Buns?

Traditionally the fruit inside a Hot Cross Buns will include currants, sultanas and mixed peel. However the world is your oyster and you can add in any dried fruit you desire.

In this recipe I have used currants, sultanas and dried cranberries. I switched out the mixed peel for the zest of a lemon and orange.

However, why not try?
Chopped dried apricots
Dried blueberries
Dried sour cherries
Dried apple pieces
Or even… Chocolate Chips!!

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

How to shape Hot Cross Buns

Take the risen dough and tear off 100g. Use the scales to weigh so every Hot Cross Bun is the same size. Roll between two slightly cupped palms. The balls should be very smooth, particularly on top to avoid too much splitting. However a little splitting is inevitable in this recipe, particularly under the cross.

Once you have a very smooth ball flatten the bottom slightly against one of your palms and then place on the baking tray.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

What is the cross made from on Hot Cross Buns?

Traditionally the white crosses on the top of the Hot Cross Buns are made from pastry. However more modern recipes use flour which is much quicker for the home cook.

The flour is mixed with a little water to form a paste then piped over the top of the Hot Cross Buns. This recipe uses a mix of sweet rice flour and oat flour.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Success Tip: Glaze the Hot Cross Buns.

Do not skip the glazing when the Hot Cross Buns are removed from the oven. It is what makes them look so shiny and inviting and gives a lovely sweetness.

I recommend a simple syrup of equal amounts white sugar and water. Heat until the sugar has dissolved then brush this simple syrup over the Hot Cross Buns once they are baked and still warm.

Can you freeze Hot Cross Buns?

Yes! You can freeze them prior to baking or already baked. If you freeze them before they have been baked then shape them, place them on the baking tray and place the tray in the freezer. Freeze for four hours then remove the tray from the freezer. Transfer the uncooked buns to a freezer bag and place back in the freezer. This means you can take the buns out individually to defrost and bake. They can freeze for up to 3 months.

To defrost, remove the buns from the freezer bag and place on a rack overnight to completely thaw. Pipe the crosses on, then bake as instructed.

Or you can freeze the Hot Cross Buns after baking once they have cooled. Again, flash freeze for four hours on a baking tray before transferring to a freezer back. Defrost in the same way as above.

What can you do with leftover Hot Cross Buns?

  • Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding
  • Hot Cross Bun Trifle
  • The bun for a bacon sandwich (amazing, especially with extra marmalade!)
  • Use them as a base for an ice cream sundae
  • Turn them into breadcrumbs and use for a crumble topping
  • Hot Cross Bun French Toast

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Variations of Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns:

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns – Remove 75g of the dried fruit and add in 150g dark chocolate chips
Orange and Cranberry – Swap out the lemon zest for zest of another orange and use just dried cranberries.
Apple and Cinnamon – Use dried apple instead of the currants and cranberries (keep the sultanas) and just use 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg instead of the other spices.

If you like this recipe then you may like:
Gluten-Free Eccles Cakes
Easter Welsh Cakes
Easter Cookies
Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread

If you make these Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns
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5 from 1 vote

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns are sweetly spiced and studded with dried fruit. There is no xanthan gum involved and they are best served warm with a slick of salted butter.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 10 Hot Cross Buns
Calories: 366kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 200 g oat flour
  • 150 g almond flour
  • 130 g sweet rice flour
  • 50 g unsalted butter cold, cubed
  • 50 g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried quick yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • ¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • zest 1 lemon
  • zest 1 orange
  • 200 ml whole milk warmed
  • 2 medium eggs beaten
  • 80 g sultanas
  • 60 g currants
  • 40 g dried cranberries

Crosses

  • 20 g oat flour
  • 20 g sweet rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons water

Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar

Instructions

  • Whisk the flours together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add in the unsalted butter then rub together between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and the lemon and orange zest until well combined.
  • Beat the eggs in a medium sized mixing bowl and gently pour in the warmed milk in a thin stream, whisking all the time until combined.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into the middle of the flour mixture.
  • Use a wooden spoon to mix at first, then as the dough begins to come together use your hands.
  • Knead gently until the dough is almost smooth but still has some loose flour then add the dried fruit.
  • Continue to knead the dough so all the fruit is evenly incorporated then turn into a smooth ball. It will still be a little sticky.
  • Leave the dough ball in the mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel. Rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan assisted/gas mark 4
  • Remove the tea towel then tear off 100g pieces of the dough. Roll into 10 balls and place evenly spread out on a large baking sheet.
  • Set the baking tray aside whilst you prepare the crosses.
  • Mix the oat flour and sweet rice flour together in a small bowl then add the water. Stir together until it forms a paste.
  • Spoon the flour paste into a small piping bag, or food bag with tip snipped off.
  • Pipe crosses onto the top of each bun.
  • Place the Hot Cross buns in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the Hot Cross Buns from the oven. Place the buns on a cooling rack and set aside whilst you prepare the glaze.
  • Heat water and sugar in a small saucepan until bubbling and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over each Hot Cross Bun.
  • Serve warm or cooled, split in half with a slick of salted butter.

Notes

Oat Flour Substitution. If you cannot digest gluten-free oat flour then substitute with 100g sorghum flour + 100g millet flour.
Yeast. I like to use Doves Farm Quick Yeast. You can use 175g total weight of any mixed dried fruit. Diced apricots, blueberries, sour cherries, raisins, mixed peel, glace cherries, stem ginger are all good choices.
Baking Sheet. Use a baking sheet sized around 39 x 27cm.
Storage. Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns keep up to 3 days in an airtight container. However they are best on the day they are made.
Freeze. You can freeze the Hot Cross Buns either pre-baked without the crosses added, or baked and cooled for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 366kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 261mg | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 4.1% | Vitamin C: 0.7% | Calcium: 8.9% | Iron: 11.3%

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Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns