Bakery Challenges – Muffins and Hot Cross Buns

Whilst I’ve happily signed up for daring cooks, I’m not confident enough to sign up for daring bakers quite yet.  Baking has never been my forte, but with recent small successes, I’m growing a little more confident with it!  I’m also having fun with learning how to use my camera, so please excuse the photosplurge.


There was a deal on in Tesco this week which meant we ended up with some strawberries.  I’m usually not to fond of out-of-season import strawberries, but when you’re getting them really cheap by buying something you wanted anyway?  Sure.  I made a heeeuge fruit salad on Wednesday night, but I still had a pile of them left over.  Cue a search for strawberry recipes.  I didn’t have to go far, finding Joy of Baking’s strawberry recipes page.  Therin, I found a strawberry and banana muffin recipe – perfect, since I happened to have a very brown banana kicking around the fruitbowl.

First time cooking muffins… I nearly fainted at the amount of butter needed for them and felt so guilty that I halved the recipe just so that I didn’t have to take 1/3 of a pat of butter and put back a tiny bit into the fridge. It turned out well, since half the recipe made 6 fairly decent sized muffins – which is not to many to gobble for two big, growing guys (growing round the middle, that is, ahem).  They were nice, but not very muffiny.  I’m not sure where I went wrong but whilst the centres were soft, squidgy muffins, the tops were crispy.  The strawberries were also overly sour when hot – if I’d realised they were going to be so sour I’d have sugared or honey’d them beforehand but c’est la vie, eh?

Despite that, I’d try muffins again – for one, I want to try strawberry and banana muffins (or just plain banana) with wholemeal flour, as I I think the flavours would go better and, secondly, I really, really need to try blueberry muffins because I adore them.  I’m just a bit aghast, now, at how much butter I’ve eaten with all of those oh-so-tasty muffins.

…didn’t stop me eating any of the ones I made.

Hot Cross Buns

This time, it was trusty ol’ BBC GoodFood that I looked to for a recipe.  Feeling buoyed up by my successes, recently, I decided to make hot cross buns (and, well, for the obvious seasonal reason too, of course).  These are not just cakes, these are bread cakes. I will note here, again, that my biggest problem when baking has always been getting things to rise properly and so bread, the archetypal ‘risen’ product, is something I’ve shied away from trying.  Never again!  I had so much fun making the hot cross buns that I’m plotting on having a go at brioche.

They turned out really well.  I am happy to say when things don’t go so great, but this time, I actually felt quite proud of myself – they weren’t perfect as the sugar-glaze was still a bit granular when I put it on (first time trying it), but they taste like hot cross buns should.  As I often do (much of the reason for my downfall when it comes to baking things, I think), I did make a wee substitution and used mixed dried fruit instead of currants.  I don’t really like currants that much and, more importantly, that was all the dried fruit we had in the cupboard.  It worked well!

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