Hot Cross Bun Brownies

I interrupt the scandi centred recipes posted so far this year with a seasonal brownie recipe. Because when all else fails and you're lacking in baking mojo, revert back to basics. These guys are proof that a trusty brownie recipe has your back. Throw in whatever you fancy, something seasonal or something outrageous.

This is my traditional, failsafe brownie recipe pimped up with toasted hot cross buns, extra currants and some cinnamon, all topped with some crosses in true Easter fashion.

H O T   C R O S S   B U N   B R O W N I E S
(Makes 12-16 brownies)


3 eggs
275g caster sugar
175g salted butter
300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
50g currants
175g plain flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
3 toasted hot cross buns, cooled

Crosses (optional):

50g plain flour
50ml water

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 20cm square baking tray.
  • Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl until combined and set aside.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate together over a pan of barely simmering water, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  • Return to the eggs and sugar and whisk once again until pale and fluffy. Pour in the chocolate and butter mixture and combine with the currants.
  • Gently fold in the flour and ground cinnamon using a spatula, careful not to over mix.
  • Tear the toasted and cooled hot cross buns and scatter over the base of the prepared baking tray. Pour over the brownie batter ensuring to fill all gaps and corners.
  • Mix together the flour and water to form a paste. Pour into a piping bag with a small round nozzle. Pipe crosses over the brownies.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes. The top will be firm with a wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to fully cool on a wire rack before chilling in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours (I like to leave mine overnight). This allows you to slice the squares neatly. 

Store brownies in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen if well wrapped for a few months.

Nordic Afternoon Tea at Aster, Victoria

Its no secret that I love cinnamon buns. 50% of the few recipes I've posted so far this year have all been bun related. My quest for the year is to learn the perfect knot and unlock cinnamon bun superstardom.

So when I was invited down to Aster in Victoria to try their new Nordic afternoon tea, firstly I was thrilled to try their cinnamon buns. And secondly, I love Nordic food so was intrigued as to how they'd translate it into an afternoon tea menu.

First up, cocktails and bubbles. My choice was the Greenway with gin, St Germain, matcha tea syrup, fresh basil and lemon juice. Super fresh and infinitely better than a matcha latte, i.e. matcha with gin!

For savouries, Atlantic prawn skagen on sourdough, blackcurrant herring with egg on dark rye and pork rolls with aquavit mustard. I love Finnish egg butter karelian pies so was thrilled to see it on the menu in an open sandwich. 

And for sweets, cinnamon knots, blueberry pie rye croute and lingonberry macarons. The softest macarons around with lingonberries sourced straight from Finland.

Executive chef Helena Puolakka then gave us a demonstration on how to make the best cinnamon knot. Gone are the days of a big roll and slicing each bun, its all about knots to keep optimum filling in each and to maintain light airy buns. It really does make the difference!

If you fancy getting your fika on, I thoroughly recommend Aster's and its such a gorgeous venue! Served from 3.00pm-5.00pm everyday for just £20 a head, you can't go wrong.

For more information, and to drool over the menu, take a look here.

Thanks to Sheepa for inviting me, I had a fab time. Although my food was complimentary, all opinions are my own.

Poppy Seed & Marzipan Buns

I've made plenty of buns recently and have no intentions to stop. Especially after visiting Aster last week and watching their executive chef Helena Poulakka expertly knot some cinnamon buns. Whilst mine are never uniform in any way I did learn a few tricks. I thought cinnamon was my favourite, then cardamom, but after making these marzipan and poppy seed ones I just can't decide which comes up trumps. Other than the fact that this recipe is the most easiest I've ever made!

For these buns, I tried rolling the dough out into a shorter rectangle before spreading over the filling. After folding in half and rolling into a longer length, the filling is perfectly sealed which reduces some of the sticky mess I usually experience, and helps to give a nice layered profile after twisting. The next trick is not to twist, knot or roll too much or too tightly. You need all that air in there to get soft cloud like buns.

These buns are made by simply twisting a length of dough a few times, knotting once and tucking the ends under. Although I still quite like my trousers method for knotting, found here.

I also accidentally forgot to buy strong white flour so used brown instead and it totally worked. Next time I'll try a rye mix as I love the balance with sweet fillings.

P O P P Y   S E E D   &   M A R Z I P A N   B U N S
(Recipe adapted from Trine Hahnemann, makes 12-16)


12g fast action yeast
300ml whole milk, lukewarm
1 egg
700g strong brown flour
50g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 beaten egg, for brushing


200g marzipan, grated
250g unsalted butter, melted
4tsp poppy seeds
150g golden caster sugar

  • Add the yeast to the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix gently with a spoon to allow the yeast to start dissolving. Add the egg, flour, sugar, salt and butter and mix on a low speed with a dough hook until the mixture forms a ball. Continue to knead with the dough hook on a low-medium speed until the dough becomes smooth, around 3 minutes.
  • Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for at least an hour in a warm place. The dough should double in size.
  • Meanwhile, make the filling by combining the marzipan, butter, poppy seeds and sugar together until a gritty paste forms. I chilled mine in the fridge a little to firm up. The marzipan will melt into lumps if the butter is still pretty hot but this will roll into the dough anyway.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, upturn onto a well floured work surface and roll out into a 30 cm long rectangle. Scoop the filling onto the dough and spread with a palette knife leaving a half inch gap around the edges. Fold the dough in half length ways and roll once again to seal the filling in the dough, up to 60cm in length.
  • If there are any gaps where the filling hasn't spread, trim the edges. Score even lengths of dough before slicing with a palette knife.
  • To shape, take each length and gently twist and twizzle a few times before knotting and tucking the ends underneath. None of my buns ever end up being the same size or uniform at this stage!
  • Place each on a lined baking tray leaving plenty of space between each bun. Leave to prove once again in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Brush the buns with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden on top. 

These buns are definitely best served fresh and warm straight from the oven but can be gently reheated over the next few days if necessary.