playing with flour

Category: Bread

Hot Cross Buns

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I’m not above a little bribery. As previously mentioned we recently moved in order for me to start my new job. Very quickly it seems we’ve come around to needing to renew our lease and there’s a small amount of doubt as to how easy this will be to do. It’s not that we aren’t good neighbours but more so that our landlord may want to sell our unit. So, in hopes of persuading them that we should really be staying here I decided to make some appropriately timed hot cross buns.

I absolutely love any baking that involves having to use my hands – bread, pizza dough, pasta, even shortbread where you have to crumble butter into flour. It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable (and yes, so much more messy). I’m still not that confident when it comes to using yeast but after buying a pizza stone and using it frequently I’ve learnt some tricks and can confidently make some basic doughs. The good thing about this recipe is it’s hard to get wrong.

The awesome thing about hot cross buns is the endless varieties that can be produced. I chose to go with a somewhat traditional sultana and mixed peel rendition but also added some dark chocolate to break it up. I used 85% cocoa chocolate which is bitter and not very sweet as the fruit already has some sweetness but if you’d prefer you can use chocolate with less cocoa.

My tip for this recipe is to make your paste for the crosses quite thick. As you can see from my pictures my crosses spread considerably and don’t have quite the classic look. When you pipe, do one row at a time and stop the flow of paste with your finger before moving on to the next row. There is a lot of waiting involved in this recipe but it is simple and easy to make and the buns are perfect gifts for anyone you feel like putting in a good mood 😉

Happy Easter x

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Hot Cross Buns

14g dried yeast
¼ cup caster sugar
1.5 cups milk
4 cups plain flour
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sultanas
1/3 cup mixed peel
40g dark chocolate
1 egg

Warm milk in saucepan over low heat, do not let boil. Combine with yeast and sugar and cover with cling wrap. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until frothy.

In a large bowl sift in the flour and spices then rub the butter in with your fingertips. Add the yeast mixture, egg, fruit and chocolate and mix well until you have a soft dough. Cover and let sit for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 200° and grease a 23cm square baking tin. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth (4-5 minutes) then divide into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then place in tin. Once all pieces are arranged allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Paste

½ cup plain flour
2 tsp caster sugar
Approx 1/3 cup water

Make your paste by mixing just enough water into the flour and sugar. Ensure the mixture is smooth before piping onto buns. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Glaze

1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp gelatin
1 tbsp water

Combine the above ingredients in a small saucepan and heat slowly without boiling until completely dissolved. Brush onto still warm buns. Allow to set and cool before eating.

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Strawberry Bread

Sometimes it’s good to be creative, to give something new a go. This strawberry bread was a bit of an experiment that stemmed from having three punnets of ripe strawberries and a tub of Greek yogurt in the fridge. I had no idea how it would turn out but it was worth a try, and I’m so glad I did.

An incredibly moist and quite heavy loaf, this bread has a similar texture to banana bread but is somewhat more airy. The juicy pockets of strawberries are delicious and the aroma of the cinnamon and brown sugar baking is enough to have you checking the oven every 10 minutes to see if it is done! The batter is a gorgeous caramel colour and tastes so good I was disappointed I didn’t leave more in the bowl to eat.

I would recommend eating this on the day you bake it (best still slightly warm from the oven) but it will keep for a couple of days. I served it with some extra Greek yogurt through which I stirred some golden syrup and pistachios. Super easy to make and perfect to share for afternoon tea.

Strawberry Bread

1 ½ cups plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
8 oz Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare a loaf tin. Beat the butter in a large bowl until light and creamy then beat in the sugars. Beat in the eggs one at a time then add the yogurt and vanilla.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix through until combined. Stir through the strawberries. Pour into prepared tin and top with a sprinkling of raw sugar and some extra cinnamon. If you like you can mix a chopped strawberry in a small bowl with a teaspoon of sugar and spread over the top also.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until golden on top and if a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the bread is browning too quickly cover with foil for the last 10 minutes. Fantastic served with Greek yogurt and honey or golden syrup.

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