March 28th, 2010

Hot Cross Buns, Cardamom and Golden Sultana

Oh it’s that time of the year again to enjoy hot cross buns. The smell of them baking in the hot oven definitely provokes fond childhood memories. It’s a clear reminder of  which season we are in and the scent of spring is amazing and marks the beginning of new life.

There is nothing more pleasing than enjoying a toasted hot cross bun with a mug of hot coffee on a sunny spring morning in the crisp and cold kitchen, planning  the ‘ to do list’ for the day. As a matter of fact I’m still nibbling one of these lovely fragrant cardamom and golden sultana hot cross buns. I baked them two days ago and was just thinking how soft and fresh they had remained since I baked them.

This recipe has been created in the true British Larder fashion with a slight twist from the tradition. I infused the milk for the dough with crushed green cardamoms and made a honey glaze using gelatine and infused this further with more green cardamom pods and a few drops of fresh lemon. The lemon compliments the citrus tones of the cardamom and together with the honey it lifts the mixed spices.

I used a 1/3 plain flour and the rest strong bread flour. Most recipes call for all plain flour but I find the texture of the cooked buns too close to the texture of cakes. I was also fairly conservative with the use of sugar as the golden sultanas are naturally sweet and add enough sweetness.

I baked these buns in a loaf tin and if you do not want to break them into individual buns you can keep them as a loaf and slice accordingly.

If you like to experiment then you might also like  my fig and sour cherry hot cross muffins recipe using spelt flour and a touch of orange.

If you believe in superstitions then it’s said if you share a hot cross bun with others it will secure friendship for the year to come. Well I hope its true and for that reason I could not keep this delicious recipe to myself but to share it with you! Happy Easter


  • 375ml milk
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 240g golden sultanas
  • 440g strong bread flour
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 20g fresh yest or 7g dried yeast
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g melted unsalted butter
  • 1 medium free-range egg

Measure the milk and crushed cardamom pods into a small saucepan, bring the milk to boiling point, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Pass the milk through a fine sieve, return the milk to the saucepan add the sultanas and return the saucepan to the heat, bring the milk to boiling point, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer weigh both flours, sugar,  pinch of salt, yeast, mixed spice and ground cinnamon and rub the yeast into the flour with your finger tips or with the dough hook attachment of the mixer.

Add the melted unsalted butter and egg, mix whilst the machine is on the lowest speed slowly add the infused milk and sultanas, continue until the mix forms a dough. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a smooth dough ball, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a dry clean tea towel and leave to prove until double in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 23cm square cake tin or two 1lb loaf tins. As I only had one large  and one small loaf tins,  I baked 8 in one and 4 in the other.

Once the dough has doubled in size, gently turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into 12 even size balls.

Roll each ball till smooth and place the ball into the greased baking trays. Cover with clean dry tea towels and leave to prove until double in size.

Make the cross paste...

Cross Paste

  • 75g plain flour
  • 80ml cold water

Mix the flour and water till a smooth paste and transfer to a piping bag, pipe thin lines of crosses on top of each bun.

Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 30 -35 minutes.

Let them cool in the tray for a few minutes, turn them out and leave to cool on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

Return the buns to the baking trays to apply the glaze.


Weigh the honey, water, crushed cardamom pod and juice of 1/2 lemon into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, simmer for one minute.

Add the soaked gelatine leaf, stir and leave to infuse for 15 minutes whilst the buns are baking. Pass the glaze through a fine sieve and let the mixture cool until just before the gelatine sets, it must still be pourable.

Brush the glaze over the cooled buns and garnish with the chopped pistachio nuts. Let the glaze set and serve.

Makes 12 large hot cross buns

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26 Comments to “Hot Cross Buns, Cardamom and Golden Sultana”

  1. Rita says:

    Mmmm, they look yum. Like the use of a loaf tin. Also like the idea of golden sultanas but where would I buy those from?

  2. Madalene says:

    Hi Rita
    Most good health food stores sell golden sultanas.
    Happy cooking

  3. Cathlene says:

    I like your twist on a classic recipe, only hesitation is the gelatine. We are vegetarian and do not like to use gelatine, is there anything else I could use to glaze the hot cross buns with?

  4. Madalene says:

    Hi Cathlene,
    You can use warm apricot jam instead of gelatine
    Happy cooking

  5. David says:

    These inspired me make my own hot cross buns, never made hot cross buns so I’m nervous but inspired. Fingers crossed!

  6. bob says:

    got to try these thanks for the recipe

  7. I have never made hot cross buns and always wondered how it was done…thanks for sharing.. they look great!

  8. MsGourmet says:

    How amazing to these look Maddie!

    Hope you have a lovely Easter xx

  9. Madalene says:

    Dear Nanette,
    Happy Easter to you too! Hope it involves a lot of chocolate and plenty of good food and company!
    All the best,

  10. calex says:

    Hi Madalene,

    Can you do a thermomix method for this?

  11. Madalene says:

    Hi Calex,
    Thermomix Method:
    You will need two Thermomix bowls:
    TM Bowl One: Place the cardamom seeds into the TM bowl, secure the lid and turn the dial to speed 10 for 10 seconds, scrape the sides down and weight the milk into the TM Bowl. Set the timer for 10 minutes, 80 degrees C for approximately 6 minutes (once the milks starts to boil let it boil for 20 seconds and turn it off) let the mild infuse for 5mintues. Pass the milk through a fine sieve, return the milk to the TM bowl add the sultanas and set the timer for 6 minutes, 80 degrees C reverse blade (once the milks starts to boil let it boil for 20 seconds and turn it off). Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

    TM Bowl Two:
    In the second TM bowl use the built in weighing scales and weight both flours, sugar, pinch of salt, yeast, mixed spice and ground cinnamon, secure the lid and turn the speed dial gradually to speed 10 for 10 seconds. Add the melted unsalted butter and egg, blend on speed 10 for 10 seconds. Add the milk and infused sultanas set the timer for 1 minute and 30 seconds, set the dial to lock position and press the dough button.
    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a smooth dough ball, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a dry clean tea towel and leave to prove until double in size.
    Follow the recipe further as above…

    Happy Baking,

  12. Tenina says:

    These sound divine as usual Madalene…you are an inspiration!

  13. I love hot cross buns but I have never made them myself. Your hot cross buns in the picture really make me to want to try baking them myself. They look so fresh and tasty. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  14. Alex says:

    Love the idea of cardamom – and your sweet sharing sentiment!

  15. Barry says:

    Memories… working in the hotel 5am in the morning ( as an apprentice…had to do as you were told in them thar days.. no bought in stuff then) The smell of those buns… as they came out of the oven… all in the name of freshness for the guest… we ate our full with fresh hot buns n butter… till the following year…memories.. First class take on an old classic.. as always congrats

  16. Madalene says:

    Hi Barry,
    They are pretty big, this recipe makes 12 large buns, you could make smaller ones and split the mixture between more trays. I did have a bit of a tray dilemma, should invest in a few large square ones.
    Happy Baking,

  17. Barry says:

    hey chef… how big were your buns… theres over a kilo of mix there

  18. Amanda says:

    Thanks so much for the TM instructions!
    Now I really will make these – the cardamom just seems like an inspired touch!

  19. Madalene says:

    HI Hanna,
    This is not a silly question, I’m more than happy to explain. Mixed Spice is a ingredient that you should be able to purchase from most supermarkets and it’s a mixture of spices used mainly for sweet foods such as cakes, sweet breads and fruit pies, commonly used around Christmas and Easter. The most common ground mix spice combination is cloves, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and ground ginger. Then you could also make a mixed spice combination more aimed at savoury cooking by adding spices such as mace, coriander seed, cumin and for a bit of heat add cayenne pepper to the standard mixed spice mixture.
    Happy Baking,

  20. Hanna says:

    i’d like to try making these as a treat this weekend, but i have what may be a very silly question: what makes up the mixed spice in the dough recipe? i can guess at some things that would go well with the cardamom (which i love!), but i was wondering if there was something specific i should be sure to include. thanks!

  21. Madalene says:

    Hi Ruth,
    Ooh I’m baffled to as why your hot cross buns became hard.
    All I could suggest is that you should make sure that the dough prove to it’s full extend, it must be at leas double in size to make them lovely and light as the yeast needs to do it’s job.
    Perhaps they could have been taken out of the oven 5 minutes before the time was up, over baked buns can go hard fairly quickly, perhaps your oven is a bit hotter than mine.
    If you cover them with clingfilm over night once cooled completely they should stay soft for the next day.
    Home made breads and yeast goods normally do not stay soft and fresh for more than two days, I find mine normally start to go stale after one day, but not immediately as in your case.
    I hope my reply is helping, hope you have better luck next time.
    All the best and a very happy Easter.

  22. Ruth says:


    I made these the other evening and they were lovely when they came out of the oven but as they cooled they became pretty hard and the next day even more so. I was wondering if you had any tips to make them lighter and fluffier? I am going to try again tonight!

    Happy Easter :)

  23. Hanna says:

    thanks, madalene! your answer came just in time to let me plan my shopping trip so i can try the recipe on saturday. perfect!

  24. Madalene says:

    Hi Lisa,
    It’s o.k if the milk curdle, I think it must have been the acid content in your sultanas. It’s o.k it would be like sour cream which is fine.
    I’m pleased you enjoyed them, to enjoy the rest tomorrow morning just reheat the hot cross buns for a few seconds, they will become just as light and fluffy as today.
    Happy Easter.

  25. Lisa says:

    I made these this morning – just delicious, thank you for the recipe. The milk curdled on the second heating with the sultanas, so I redid it and just let them sit in the milk still warm from the first heating – what did I do wrong?

    They were lovely, fluffy and light, although a little overdone on the outside, but my oven does tend to run a little hot and I got distracted and didn’t check them early enough.

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