Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Best Hot Cross Buns ever. Slightly non-traditional, these Hot Cross Buns have a deliciously spiced brioche style bun with vanilla soaked raisins, dried sour-cherries, cinnamon glaze & icing.

I think we should eat Hot Cross Buns throughout the year. We can get rid of the crosses altogether and just called them spiced buns if you want. My cousin, a baker from London, came to stay over easter. We ate many excellent baked things, one of the best were these Hot Cross Buns. We didn’t bother with the dough crosses, but piped icing at the end, on top of the sticky cinnamon glaze. We helped each of the kids ice their own design on a bun, a swirl, some dots. Some of their design requests got a bit out of hand, like a Brachiosaurus or something, but we managed to talk that one into a nice simple volcano.

This dough is based on a recipe from the Model Bakery Cookbook, then modified. You have to start this one the day before, to give the dough time to develop and have a nice relax in the fridge over night. I don’t have a worthy mixer, so this recipe is for hand kneading, using the ‘slap & fold’ method because its a pretty wet dough. The recipe makes 12 buns which will be gone straight away so if you need more, you might want to double it.

Sponge:

  • 75g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 60 ml water
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast

Dough:

  • 165ml whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 435g bread flour, as needed
  • 50g sugar
  • 85g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 50g sultanas
  • 50g dried sour cherries, chopped
  • zest of an orange or lemon

Cinnamon Glaze

  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 50ml water
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Icing:

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water as needed

Method:

To make the sponge (start the day before baking)

  1. Combine flour water & yeast in a small bowl
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and leave somewhere warm until bubbles appear, (about 1.5 hours)

To make the dough:

  1. Put raisins and cherries in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 10 mins, then drain off the water, and stir in the vanilla paste, spices & citrus rind and set aside.
  2. Stir the sponge, milk, eggs yeast and salt in a large bowl until the sponge dissolves.
  3. Stir in 365g of the flour to make a shaggy dough, cover with a cloth and let stand for about 20 mins.
  4. Sprinkle 1 tbs of the sugar over the dough in the bowl, with floured hands, pull up about a third of the dough and stretch it over the dough, flip the dough over and repeat again and continue until the sugar is worked in.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary, for about 8 mins until supple.
  6. Dot the dough with a tbs of the butter and continue kneading until the butter is absorbed. The dough will be sticky but don’t add too much of the flour. Repeat with the remaining butter, kneading until the dough is smooth and shiny.
  7. Work in the dried fruit, peel & spice mix. Keep folding the dough until its all incorporated.
  8. Shape the dough into a thick rectangle and cover well with plastic wrap, or put into a sealed container. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours before using. The dough will look puffy but not doubled.
  9. When ready to bake, remove from the fridge, shape into 12 buns, ensuring the fruit is tucked into the dough, and the tops are smooth. Place side by side in a greased baking dish, cover with a cloth and allow to prove for a further 1-2 hours. (they will grow and be lovely and soft).
  10. Preheat oven to 180.
  11.  Bake for 15-20 mins, then paint/pour the cinnamon glaze onto the hot buns when they come out of the oven.

To make the glaze:

  1. While the buns are cooking, prepare glaze by combining sugar, cinnamon and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar, set aside.

To make the icing (if using)

  1. Combine icing sugar with enough water to get the right consistency for piping or drizzling. Drizzle or pipe onto the cooled buns.

Orange and Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

For some reason I’ve ended up with an excess of pumpkin and sweet potato. I ordered them online and only saw how bloody huge they were when they arrived. My kids don’t even like pumpkin. Never mind. So far I’ve roasted the pumpkin and worked it into a Pumpkin & Tomato soup, Pumpkin Pancakes, Roast Pumpkin for salads and now Orange and Pumpkin Muffins. (All of these things were happily eaten by the kids, except the salad) These recipes all use lovely fresh roasted pumpkin, not ‘a can of pumpkin puree’. I got a Japanese Pumpkin, cut it into slices and roasted it with the skin on. You can eat the skin, but for these I just cut the skin off when it had cooled down.

This recipe is fairly adhoc (surprise surprise) and delivers beautiful, soft, tasty muffins. They are not enormous cakey ones, nor are they those dense dry abominations that you find in the healthy cafes. These are pretty low sugar, and use half flour, half almond meal which gives them a nice texture. Slightly spiced with orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla, these pumpkin muffins are great for autumn days with black coffee, but also a glass of milk. This recipe is too easy and perfect if you’re looking for some nice healthy treats for the kids. (not freak healthy, just regular, decent healthy)

Ingredients:

  • 115g plain flour
  • 115g almond meal
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp of ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 300g fresh roasted pumpkin ( I used Japanese Pumpkin, roasted with a bit of coconut oil until soft but not mushy)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 orange rind finely grated

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flour, almond meal, baking powder sugar, salt & spices until well combined. Add orange rind to the bowl.
  3. In a jug combine the milk, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin and puree with a handblender until nice and smooth.
  4. Pour the puree and the coconut oil into the dry ingredients and fold to combine.
  5. Scoop spoonfuls of mixture into muffin tins lined with paper cases and bake for 15- 20 mins until toasty on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Tiny Vanilla Cupcakes

Tiny Vanilla Cupcakes

Tiny birthday cupcakes for tiny preschool friends to share. Kids seem to go mental for this kind of thing. A proper little treat. (It’s a birthday – there will be cake with flour and butter and sugar.)

The recipe for these came from Sweetapolita – who’s blog I discovered a few years ago – it’s a happy explosion of pastels and sprinkles and has inspired a number of birthday cakes for my little people.

I’ve always just made hand mixed, one bowl style cakes. They’ve always been nice, homely. I’ve never been a big fan of icing, especially sugary colourful icing. Too sickly, and sometimes strangely artificial. (Apart from when I was a small child I’d peel off and eat that thick layer of pink or chocolate or lemon icing from Mr Kipling cupcakes, and chuck the cake).

But when I saw those recipes for the mega layer cakes and whipped icing – I borrowed a mixer and followed the detailed instructions. My eyes widened when I found the consistency of the cake mix before it went into the pan – amazing – a great whipped, fluffy, billowing cloud of cake mix, as if made by The Care Bears. This was followed by excitement and intense anticipation – because you know the cake is going to be great if the mixture is that good. The excessive whipping applies to the icing too, and I’ve never known icing like it. I’m now a total convert and am considering having more children to bake birthday cakes for.

Tiny Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 60 tiny cupcakes.

Recipe only slightly adapted from Sweetapolita, which was adapted from Magnolia Bakery.

For the cupcakes:
  • 2 – 3/4 cups (350 g) plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 227 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (237 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste
For the icing:
  • 345 g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 5 cups (625 g) icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla paste
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

For the cupcakes:
    1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin tray with paper liners.
    2. In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder very well and set aside.
    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each one.
    4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
    5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake until tops turn golden brown and chopstick inserted into centre comes out just clean (about 15 minutes)
    6. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely before icing.
For the icing:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer whip butter until very pale & creamy. (about 5 minutes on medium speed)
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute, then on medium for another 5 minutes, until very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  3. Add a drop of food colour, and mix until blended.
  4. Ice the cooled cupcakes however you damn like

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Chocolate Chip Blondies

These are because I was bored with muffins and couldn’t be bothered to make cookies. I needed something for a picnic for a video shoot with children & parents. Melt, mix, squash in the pan, bake, cool, cut, pack. Rush out the door. leave picnic behind in the driveway after packing everything else. Call friend to pick it up.

These are not too sweet or sticky because I halved the sugar.

Chocolate Chip Blondies Recipe
Adapted from Butter Baking (who adapted it from Two Peas and Their Pod, and believes the recipe seems to come from Baking Illustrated…this is getting silly)

Ingredients:
  • 165g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1.5 cups plain flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees & grease a pan and line with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar & molasses together until smooth. Add the eggs & mix well.
  3. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don’t over mix. Add the chocolate chips and mix.
  4. Squash into the pan evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for around 25 minutes, until golden.
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.