Smothered in sweet glaze and filled with orange zest, currants, and cardamom, these decadent honey buns are the perfect treat for brunch or dessert.
[Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Torakand Adventures LLC and is part of a series of recipes developed for the fictional fantasy setting of Lost Colonies, an immersive live-action roleplaying community in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. This post also contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links.]
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Honey Buns with Orange, Currants & Cardamom
Whether you call them honey buns or sweet rolls, desserts like these are always a fan favorite. Covered in a simple honey glaze, these swirls of yeasted dough are stuffed with a mixture of honey, cardamom, and citrus. The addition of dried currants adds subtle pops of flavor throughout, while the orange zest gives the honey buns a lovely brightness.
This recipe for a Honey Buns with Orange, Currants & Cardamom is part of a series of recipes inspired by the fictional cultures and traditions of Lost Colonies, a live action role playing experience based in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. (You can learn more about this collaboration in the first post of the series.)
Impress your friends and bake up a tray of these decadent honey buns for your next brunch or potluck!
Sobukand Sweet Rolls
I firmly believe that there is no such thing as too many sweet rolls, and certainly not too many kinds. Sticky, sweet, stuffed with fruits and spices – what could be better than that? In every city, town, and hamlet, you can always find a corner bakery with their own special twist on this classic treat. From the honey-forward orange, currant, and cardamom buns of my homeland Liber, to the brown sugar and warm spiced rolls of northern Holthar, the varieties are delightfully endless. Even the Empresses must agree – every other year they host an empire-wide competition for the best recipe, culminating in a prestigious High Tea honoring the winner and their particular confection. In the end, I would say we are all winners when sweet rolls are on the table.
– Excerpt from A Traveler’s Guide to Sobukand by Donla Pheinkuk
Throughout the many fictional regions of Sobukand, few foods are as popular as traditional sweet rolls. While these swirled sweet breads are generally made from a relatively simple yeasted dough, the fillings and toppings vary according to the tastes of each baker and the ingredients locally available to them.
While culinary historians debate the exact origin of the sweet roll, numerous regions claim ownership of the original recipe and delight in friendly competitions, both locally and nationally. Sweet rolls are so popular that even the ruling parties of Sobukand take part, with the Empresses personally judging a tremendously prestigious bi-annual baking competition for the most elaborate and creative innovations on this otherwise simple treat.
Two such fillings are featured below – the brightly flavored Honeyed Orange, Currant, & Cardamom Sweet Rolls of Liber, as well as the warm and comforting Spiced Brown Sugar & Walnut Rolls of Holthar. With the idea that each region – and even individual cities – feature their own local variation of these honey buns, players of Lost Colonies are more than encouraged to experiment and devise fillings of their own based on the below template!
Baking Sweet Rolls & Honey Buns
In the photos included with this recipe, you can see that I’ve baked the two versions of honey buns in two different ways. For the primary orange and currant version of the recipe, I separated the sweet rolls and baked them individually in a nine-by-thirteen-inch glass dish. In the photos of the alternate spiced and walnut-filled version, I baked the rolls more like traditional honey buns or cinnamon rolls, all pressed together in a round pie dish so that they bake like a pull-apart bread.
Either technique is perfectly acceptable for the dough in this recipe, and in my experience takes the same amount of time. I find the first is easier to store and serve individually, while the second makes for a more impressive shared dish at a potluck or fancy brunch.
Honey Buns with Orange, Currants, & Cardamom
Smothered in sweet glaze & filled with orange zest, currants, & cardamom, these sticky honey buns are the perfect treat!
Honey Bun Dough
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 2 1/2 ounces active dry yeast (1 packet)
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4-5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature and very soft, divided
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Orange & Currant Filling
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup dried currants
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Make the Dough:
Heat the milk over medium heat until it starts to bubble (but not boil). Take the milk off the heat and let it cool to just above room temperature. Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in warm water in a small bowl, add a pinch of the sugar, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Transfer the cooled milk and the yeast mixture to a bowl and whisk them together. Stir in 2 cups of flour, salt, and remaining sugar with a spatula until smooth. Put the bowl in a warm place and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Paddle ½ cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, then mix in the honey. Add each egg one at a time. Incorporate the yeast mixture on low.
Switch from the paddle to a dough hook, and slowly add the rest of the flour with the mixer on low. Mix until fully combined and the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for 2 minutes to incorporate any dry ingredients. The dough should be very smooth. Use the oil to grease a large bowl, turn the ball of dough over in the bowl to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour.
Make the Filling:
While the dough is rising, mix together the honey, orange zest, orange juice, cardamom, and ginger in a small bowl. Keep this and the currants separate but in easy reach.
Form & Bake the Honey Buns:
Set the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the two baking dishes you plan to use, either 13 x 9-inch rectangular or 9-inch circular (see note).
Punch the dough down, and then divide it in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls into an 8×10 inch rectangle. Leaving an inch-wide border, spread half of the softened butter out on the surface of the dough, and then spread half of the filling mixture out on top of it. Sprinkle the currants over the filling so that its evenly covered.
Starting with the long edge closest to you, carefully roll the dough away from you so that it makes a tight jelly roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 10 pieces. Place these cut-side down into the first pan. Repeat the process with the second ball of dough.
Cover both pans with foil, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and then bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the buns cool in their pans.
Make the Glaze:
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the honey and let cook for 1 minute. Stir in the salt and heavy cream, and then bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring often. Remove the glaze from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
When both the buns and glaze are cool enough to handle, apply the glaze. If the buns were baked separately, dip the top of each into the glaze to coat and then set them aside to cool completely. If the buns were baked together, drizzle the glaze over them to coat. Serve warm, if possible.
Spiced Brown Sugar & Walnut Sweet Rolls (Alternate Filling): Follow recipe instructions as above. Replace the filling with a combination of 2 cups brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Substitute a sprinkling of 1 1/2 cups crushed walnuts for the currants. Make the glaze as above, but replace the honey with the same amount of brown sugar.
Round or Rectangle Baking Dish: You can bake these honey buns separately, or pressed together like traditional cinnamon rolls. If baking separately, use two 13 x 9-inch rectangular baking dishes and leave about an inch between each bun. If baking pressed together, use two 9-inch circular pans. Place the buns in the pan about a finger’s width apart, starting from the center and working your way outward.
Serving Amounts: If you do not need two trays of honey buns, feel free to halve the amount of filling and reserve half of the yeasted dough for a later use. Tightly wrap the second ball of dough in plastic wrap and freeze. Use within 2-3 months, defrosting in the fridge overnight before use.