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.

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.

 

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

A Lemon Tart for Mothers Day lunch, (to follow an epic cold seafood feast curated by dad). It’s tangy & not too sweet. My mum doesn’t have a big sweet tooth. (lets pretend we don’t know anything about nutella pizza or fudge ay mum?). This has a simple pastry with no sugar or egg. The lemon filling is made with eggs and cream, it doesn’t need any cornflour to thicken it. It’s very simple to whisk up, pour into your partially baked pastry shell and bake. The filling comes out beautifully creamy, not dense or eggy. I painted the bowl for mum at the ceramic painting place the kids go to.

Lemon Tart Recipe

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 1 cup (150grams) plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 110 grams of cold butter, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cold water, or more as needed

Filling:

  • 2 cups (500ml) pouring cream
  • 1 cup (250ml) lemon juice
  • 4 eggs + 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (220g) sugar

Instructions:

For the Pastry:
Mix the flour and salt, rub the cold butter into the flour until you have small pea size crumbs. Add enough water to form a dough. You don’t want it sticky. Roll it up and wrap in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for half hour.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets or baking paper, or a lightly floured surface. Roll until it’s big enough to fit in your tart pan. Lay pastry in the pan. (I always have trouble with this, my pastry breaks and I have to squidge it back together in the pan. Maybe one day I’ll nail it. If this happens, make sure you patch the holes properly, otherwise your lemon mixture will leak into your pastry and through the oven.)

Stick the pastry lined tart pan back in the fridge for half hour and preheat the oven to 180C.

Cover the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights if you have them. I don’t so I use uncooked rice or lentils.  Bake for about 15 mins, then remove the paper and rice, and return to the oven for 5 mins or until golden. Turn the oven down to 140ºC.

For the Filling:

Whisk all the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl and pour through a sieve into the pastry shell. Bake for about 30 mins until just set. Allow to cool, pop it in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.

Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwich platter, sandwiches

“Only the truly generous know how to make a good sandwich”

Said a wise person once. My dad I think. Someone else more famous than him might have said it first. Who cares. My dads general rule of thumb is to take the quantity of ingredient you think you need, and double it. Or even triple it. It tends to work very well.

Essentials include:

Good bread to match your sandwich style, proper butter (or maybe olive oil if you’re doing something exotic) and your favourite ingredients or whatever you have in the fridge. And off you go.

There are no recipes for sandwiches as far as I’m concerned. If you can’t cut loose with creating sandwiches, where can you cut loose?

Though, saying that, we do respect the classics. There are always some favourites to revisit.

Family classics include

Pan Bagna – tuna, anchovies, tomato, olives, egg, capers, garlic, olive oil

Gravlax/Smoked salmon, onion, capers, boiled egg, mayo

Butter & Cheese. You just can’t go wrong

Cheese, salad, pesto

Salami & coleslaw

Chicken & herbs

On Toast/Toasted

Ham, cheese & mustard toastie

Cheese on toast. Sunday night. Nothing else is needed

Sauteed mushrooms on toast

Sardines, tomato, olive oil

Roasted vegetables, pesto, cheese

Any faves?

Orange Butter Cake with Raspberry Icing

Orange Butter Cake with Raspberry Icing

Beautifully scented with orange & raspberry this cake is fresh and bright and perfect for a summer birthday . This is not a wet, dense or syrupy orange cake, it’s a delicious fluffy butter cake with just a squeak of orange, spread with a generous layer of icing made with pure raspberry puree which is both sweet & tart. This recipe makes 1x 8 inch single layer, but I think it would be a wonderful layer cake. Next time.

Orange Butter Cake Recipe

Ingredients for the cake:

    • 1 & 1/2 cups of plain flour
    • 125 grams soft butter
    • 1 cup of raw sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste
    • ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange (or about a third of 1 large orange)
    • ¼ cup of milk
    • Rind of 1 large orange (either finely grated, or peeled then chopped if you can’t find your mini grater. Where is it?)

Ingredients for the Raspberry Icing

    • 175 grams of soft unsalted butter
    • 1 ½ cups of sifted icing sugar
    • Small pinch of salt
    • 3 or 4 tablespoons of raspberry puree (made from blending a handful of defrosted frozen raspberries, sieved)

Instructions for the cake:

  1. Preheat Oven 160C & grease cake tin
  2. Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy, (med/high speed about 5 mins) then add vanilla and mix through
  3. Add eggs one by one, incorporating each one before adding the next
  4. Mix in orange juice & rind (it might look curdled, no worries)
  5. On low speed, add the flour & baking powder and mix till just incorporated
  6. Add the milk, mix through
  7. Pour into cake tin and bake for approx 25 mins or until a skewer comes out clean
  8. Cool in the pan, turn out and cool completely before icing

Instructions for the icing:

  1. Mix butter on high speed until very light and fluffy (about 7 mins)
  2. Add icing sugar & salt and continue to mix on high for another 5 minutes
  3. Add raspberry puree and watch in wonder as it turns intense pink. Continue on medium for 3 minutes

Trim the cooled cake so that its even on the top, gently flip it upside down so the flat base is now the top, and spread over the icing, smoothing and turning in a trance like state….