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In The Kitchen With: April Carter’s Spiced Hot Cross Buns

by Kristina Gill

A wave of cold has blown over so many places in the northern hemisphere, it’s hard to believe that Easter is on Sunday.  To celebrate, we chose to share a recipe for honey cardamom hot cross buns by British food blogger and cookbook author, April Carter.  Hot cross buns are traditional at Easter in the UK and in Australia, where I first had them.  The recipe only looks long because I asked April to add extra descriptions for those readers who may not be familiar with making hot cross buns, but be assured it is very easy.  We also have a recipe for dried fig and dark chocolate hot cross buns in our archives, if you’d like to try those as well!  Happy Easter! –Kristina

About April: April Carter is the author of “trEATs: Delicious food gifts to make at home” and writes the baking blog Rhubarb & Rose.  She is currently training at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London and writing her third book to be published by Hardie Grant in Autumn 2014.

See how easy it is to make April’s hot cross buns after the jump!

Honey Cardamom Hot Cross Buns

For the buns:
2/3 cup (150ml) whole milk
10 cardamom pods
5 tablespoons (70ml) honey
4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter, cubed
3 cups (375g) strong white flour (bread flour/high protein content), remove three tablespoons (25g) for kneading
2 teaspoons (7g) fast action dried yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons (8g) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup, packed (85g) currants or raisins

For the flour paste:
7 tablespoons (55g) plain flour
1 tsp honey
2 tsp oil

For the egg wash:
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk

  1. Heat the milk with the cardamom pods in a saucepan until simmering. Take the milk off of the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the honey and the butter until melted. Set aside to cool until tepid.
  2. Meanwhile, set aside the 3 tablespoons (25g) of flour. Sift together the remaining cups of flour, yeast, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg followed by the milk mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough that comes together without leaving any dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl. Knead for 5 minutes by hand or using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky to knead, sprinkle one tablespoon of the flour you’ve set aside on your work surface or add to the bowl of your stand mixer if you are using one.  You will use the rest to flour the surface when you are shaping the buns.  Cover the dough with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for two hours or until doubled in size.
  3. Meanwhile, place the currants or raisins, the remaining 2 tablespoons of honey and 4 tablespoons of water in a saucepan and heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Lightly oil a baking sheet and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
  5. Drain the raisins (reserve the honey syrup) and knead into the dough. The dough will be quite sticky so add a light sprinkling of flour using some or all of the remaining flour from earlier.
  6. Divide the dough into twelve buns (about 2 ounces / 60g each). Shape each bun by kneading the dough in on itself to create a smooth taught surface and place seam side down onto the baking sheet about 1cm (1/2 inch) apart. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
  7. To make the crosses, mix together the flour, honey and enough water form a thick paste (2-2 ½ tablespoons) that is runny enough to pipe but still holds its shape. To make the egg wash, beat the egg with the milk and pass it through a sieve.
  8. Once the buns have doubled in size, heat the oven to 400F/200C and brush over the egg wash.
  9. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 3mm (1/8 inch) icing tip or snip off the end to make a small hole. Pipe each bun with a cross.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes or until risen and golden. Brush with the reserved honey syrup and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Serve split and toasted with lots of butter.


Why April loves this recipe

Hot cross buns are deliciously sweet, spiced and fruited baked treats that are best served toasted with lots of butter. They are a favourite Easter tradition in the UK, but I love them so much that I’ve been known to eat them for breakfast or at any time of the day as early as January. The shops here are always coming up with new twists on the traditional combination of sultanas, currants, candied peel and mixed spice, adding flavors like cranberries, orange and even chocolate. For this recipe I‘ve kept things simple with plumped-up, honey-soaked currants and milk infused with warming cardamom. Perfect with a cup of tea and not just for Easter.   (Portrait by  Danielle Wood)


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  • I’ll have to settle for the store bought buns my husband brought home. Just too busy this weekend but as soon as my head is done spinning I will try this!

    They look so good and the ingredients sound so right. My favourite way to eat them is warm with too much butter ;) and marmalade or honey drizzled all over. With a freshly brewed cup of coffee it is hard to stop at just one.

  • I tried these out last night and they are really fantastic! Just one thing- I think the amounts listed for the flour paste seem incorrect. Maybe it’s supposed to be tablespoons of oil and honey and not teaspoons? With the measurements listed, I did not get anything close to a paste- more like a bit of water drizzled on dry sand. Tasty nonetheless!

  • I made this recipe for Easter brunch. The spiced flavor was just right – not too much, not too little. I served mine with apricot preserves, which complemented, rather than overpowered the buns’ subtle flavor. I was expecting these would only be good just out of the oven, but I’m still enjoying them 24 hours later. I followed the recipe, except that I used ‘whole cardamom’ instead of pods and I used regular white flour instead of bread flour. Also, the recipe doesn’t mention removing the cardamom pods from your milk mixture, but I just assumed that was the deal, so I fished out my whole cardamom out before adding the milk to the flour mixture. I had a bit of difficulty getting the currants to fold into the firm dough. Also, during the 20-minute proofing and later in the oven, my buns kept wanting to split apart, so they looked more like Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits than the buns pictured here. This recipe is a bit time intensive, but if I try it again, I’ll be sure to use bread flour and will line my cookie sheet with parchment paper to prevent burning on the bottom.