breakfast | buns | cardamom | cherry | easter | lemon | quick & easy | recipe | traditional with a twist | treats | yeast

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns with a buttermilk icing.

April 15, 2014

SPRING!! YOU’RE FINALLY HERE! Oh, how we’ve missed you. You & your bright colors & beautiful flowers. All winter I’ve longed for a big bouquet of fresh buds on my table, and I can finally indulge. And indulge I have!

Besides after having such a rough few weeks I think we all deserve some brightness.


I think since early March, I’ve had a trillion vases & jars all over the house, filled with beautiful flowers. As soon as I started seeing blooms for sale, I bought ’em. Those gorgeous ones pictured are ranunculus; some of my absolute favorites. But daffodils were a big one recently, and of course tulips. It’s so nice to have the snow be gone & the greenery back!

And now, a spring-y, Easter-y recipe to usher in the season of eggs, bunnies & flowers: hot cross buns!

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns.

I had to change ’em around a bit, though. I made mine with cardamom and dried cherries, and the icing is a buttermilk icing. You, however, can use cinnamon instead of cardamom, and raisins instead of cherries, and milk or heavy cream instead of buttermilk for a  more traditional recipe.

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns!

Or you can follow me, & live on the edge.

Or you can do the dried apricot, cherry & cranberry version (that I got this idea from) over at The Culinary Life. You’ll find the link below.

Hot cross buns are VERY traditional Easter fare. In case you didn’t know:

hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UKAustraliaNew ZealandSouth Africa, and Canada, but now popular all year round.[1]

In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during Lent, beginning with the evening of Shrove Tuesday (the evening before Ash Wednesday) to midday Good Friday,[2] with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion.

The ancient Greeks may have marked cakes with a cross.[3] Some have claimed a connection with the goddess Eostre,[4] but there is no historical evidence to support this; Bede, the sole source to mention Eostre, says nothing about her attributes or ceremonies.[5]

In the times of Elizabeth I of England (1592), the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of hot cross buns and other spiced breads, except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. The punishment for transgressing the decree was forfeiture of all the forbidden product to the poor. As a result of this decree, hot cross buns at the time were primarily made in home kitchens. Further attempts to suppress the sale of these items took place during the reign of James I of England/James VI of Scotland (1603-1625).[6]


Cherry cardamom hot cross buns.

They were my nana’s favorite, and my mom loves them as well. I myself prefer a plain bun- no dried fruit and a sweet, thick icing- but I’m more than happy to oblige requests or satisfy cravings. And I refuse to allow my family to buy those hockey puck hot cross buns in plastic containers at the supermarket!

CHERRY CARDAMOM HOT CROSS BUNS WITH BUTTERMILK ICING (adapted from an idea at The Culinary Life & a recipe from The Pioneer Woman)


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 package (1 1/8 teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (additional) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup dried Bing or Montmorency cherries, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 whole egg white
  • splash of milk
  • 1 egg white
  • powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk


  1. Combine 1 cup milk, canola oil, and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot–about 30 minutes. Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 2 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Add 1/4 cup flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons sugar with cardamom and nutmeg. Lightly flour your work surface. Scoop the dough out onto the surface and knead it until it holds a shape (barely). The dough will be sticky & loose. Press to slightly flatten dough into a semi-rectangle. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the sugar/cardamom mixture on it, then sprinkle on about a third of the cherries. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is “plain” again. Repeat the sugar/cherry process, then fold the dough again. Repeat until all the cherries are used. (You will not use all the sugar/cardamom mixture.)
  4. Pinch off ping pong or golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly in baking pan. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, an hour-plus is better. Preheat oven to 400° degrees F.
  5. Make glaze: mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll. Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. You can remove from the pan if you like.
  6. Make the icing: Mix powdered sugar with egg white & add buttermilk for desired consistency. Add icing to a small Ziploc bag or disposable pastry bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each roll, making sure they’re completely cooled first. Once icing sets, remove buns from pan to serve.

A unique version of hot cross buns: cherry cardamom.

Sometimes I get lazy and just drip the icing on from a large spoon.

Okay… most of the time I do it that way. Unless I feel fancy. Which I apparently did last time I made hot cross muffins. If you’re fancier (& neater) than I am, pipe it on.

Easy cherry cardamom hot cross buns.

SOUNDTRACK: Lana Del Rey – “Young & Beautiful”
Sources & credits: Clear Pyrex 231 baking dish; vintage from Grandma Dotty, White Lace Pyrex mixing bowl; vintage, tablecloth from Le Grenouille, NYC; vintage.
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