Late Easter Treats

It’s been a while since I posted anything about cooking – I’ve been making plenty and quite a few tasty things too but for some reason I’ve felt really underconfident about posting on the subject – I guess possibly something to do with the fact there are so many amazing food bloggers out there who’re just so high above me I can’t see their feet for the clouds.  I don’t know why I don’t feel the same way about gardening – I’m a complete newbie with it, too, but I feel more of a sense of ‘sharing foibles’ with my gardening than my cooking, where it feels as though I’m sharing my ineptitude.

I’m pushing myself, thus, to post these even if they are now ‘out of season’ just so that I get back into the mode of publishing cooking stuff – I’d love to get back into doing my Saturday/Sunday soup recipes, especially since Mishi gave me the Covent Garden Soup Book – which has a recipe for every day of the year!  It was their soups, with the monthly seasonal changes, which added to my determination to make my own – I really liked them but they are were little  expensive and I figured I could have a go at making my own unusual soups.

Whilst hot cross buns are traditionally an easter recipe there’s no reason not to have them after!   I wish I’d taken more photos of these whilst I was making them but it was really late as I wanted to have them relatively fresh in the morning without actually making them first thing in the morning ;)  I have some pics over here, halfway down, from the last time I blogged about making hot cross buns.  Recipe is based on the bbc one here.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

  • 450g strong white / bread flour plus a few extra tablespoons for decoration.
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 14g instant yeast
  • 100g mixed fruit and peel
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 150ml milk
  • 50ml of  water
  • 1 egg
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar for decoration

Directions

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl – flour, caster sugar, yeast, fruit & peel, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg – if you will be using unsalted butter you should also add 1 tsp of salt. Melt the butter and warm the milk and water.  Make a hole in the middle of the dry mix, add the milk and water.  Beat an egg then add it to the bowl, quickly mixing so that the warm water and milk don’t start to cook the egg.

Once well mixed, turn out onto a floured work surface.  Knead the dough for around ten minutes by hand – I’m not sure how long it’d take in a mixer – I didn’t want to use mine at 2am.  Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a warm damp towel and leave in a warm room for around an hour.  The dough should have doubled in size, if it hasn’t then leave it a little longer.

Preheat the oven to 200C

Turn the dough out onto the work surface, punch it down gently and roll into a vaguely sausage shape.  Cut pieces off about 1/2 the size you want your buns to be.  Take the piece in your hands and flatten it a little by stretching, pull the edges underneath and form a bun shape.  Cut a cross or whatever simple design you’d like into the buns and leave them, again lightly covered by a damp cloth, for around 15 minutes.

Whilst they are rising, mix four tablespoons of flour with water until you have a paste which is thick but still flows.

Once risen, use your flour mixture to make crosses or markings where you made the cuts.  The buns should then go into the oven for 10-15 minutes.  They are ready when they are a deep golden brown colour and sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Add the granulated sugar to a small pot with 1 and 1/2 tbsps of water.  Put the sugar mix over a low heat when you put the buns into the oven and it should be about ready when they come out – if it starts to burn or boil simply turn it off.

Once the buns are out of the oven transfer them to wire racks and use a pastry brush or similar to brush them with the sugar mix whilst they’re still warm.

Extra Notes

If you want to add extra juiciness to your buns then soak the fruit beforehand in fruit juice.  I soaked mine in orange juice for around 12 hours or so and this plumped them up well – making them softer once cooked.

You can use a piping bag to pipe the flour and water mix or you can roll up a piece of greaseproof paper into a cone and use that.

If you heat the sugar mix too fast or don’t let it melt fully before you brush it on the buns it can become very granular.  This isn’t a complete disaster as they’re still rather tasty and it can add a bit of crunch.  Andy apparently actually prefers them that way, too!

I made two batches as I wanted to make sure I had enough to feed ~15 hungry drummers with some spare and I used a cookie cutter to make circles on mine rather than crosses as the symbol the processional drummers (the group Andy is drumming with at Beltane) have on their tabards is a sun.

As well as a pile of hot cross buns I also took in some dyed eggs to roll down Calton Hill:

I used the instructions here and tips for making patterns here.  They didn’t all work out that well, but the mistakes often looked better than the deliberate patterns so I’m not too fussed ;)

Also, since it’s been a while since I posted one, here’s a silly tinfoil hat cat photo:

Sam is incredibly laid back and patient with us or possibly just too lazy to move when we put things on him…

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