HOT CROSS BUNS
Hot cross buns are traditional Easter fare, despite the fact they seem to appear on supermarket shelves earlier every year, sometimes hot on the heels of Christmas! They sell like proverbial ‘hot cakes’ in my local store. Hot cross buns are a yeast-leavened sweet bread usually containing sultanas or currants and a touch of spice (such as mixed spice, cinnamon or all spice), decorated with a cross on top. The cross pattern is created with a paste of flour and water and applied before baking. After baking they are usually glazed with a sugar syrup to give them a shiny appearance. When eaten warm straight out of the oven they are temptingly fragrant and divinely delicious – some might even say eating them is a religious experience!
Hot cross buns contain a little fat from butter/shortening (around 5%) and are high in carbohydrate so consideration is needed around portion size for people with diabetes. Hot cross bun sizes vary a lot. For example, one commercial variety sold in a 6 pack contains 40g carbohydrate and 920 kJ (220 calories). They can be sold in smaller sizes, for example mini-hot cross buns are divided into 9 buns instead of 6 and this reduces the carbohydrate content to 22g and the energy down to 500 kJ (120 calories). I use these mini buns for my son’s school lunch box. You might guess that hot cross buns have a high GI but when Sydney University GI Research Service (SUGiRS) tested one a few years back it was 66 (medium). This is likely due to the dried fruit which has a low GI; the same reason raisin toast tends to have a lower GI than white or wholemeal bread.
There is a marketing trend to play around with the basic recipe of hot cross buns, such as fruit-free, gluten-free and more indulgent varieties such as chocolate chip, caramel, mocha or brioche buns but be aware these can alter the nutrition content in a less healthy direction. Unfortunately, higher fibre wholemeal (wholewheat) varieties are rare – we can but ask our local retailer. Or take the time to cook a batch ourselves over the Easter holiday. Happy Easter!
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, author, consultant, cook and food enthusiast who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.
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