playing with flour

Category: Orange

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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Panforte

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Wow, what a month it has been. I know that I promised to post here more often but sometimes things just don’t go to plan. We moved house which is always a challenge, and have finally unpacked and settled in and got our internet connected after three weeks. Whilst doing that I also had my graduation from medical school, my parents visiting from interstate and preparation for my new job which starts next week. Of course, just to make things slightly more hectic, there was Christmas and New Years! Thankfully things have calmed down now and should get back to normal. Fingers crossed.

Christmas this year was lovely and simple, with breakfast and lunch at our new place with family. Instead of the traditional Christmas puddings or cakes I made panforte which is an Italian variation on Christmas cake and gave it as gifts to friends and neighbours. It’s rich and flavourful and packed full of nuts and fruit, held together by chocolate and honey. The orange gives it a citrus scent and the figs make it chewy and moist. While I realise I’m a little behind with the Christmas recipe posts I don’t see any reason to wait until next year to make this. It is fantastic with coffee and makes for a great afternoon treat.

The recipe is simple and easy to make and you can feel free to make any alterations you wish. Add more or different nuts, use spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, add glace fruit… there are endless possibilities but I found this combination worked really well. The panforte can be kept wrapped in cling wrap and stored in a dark place for up to six weeks.

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Panforte

100g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa
150g whole almonds
125g hazelnuts
Rind from one orange
100g raisins
150g dried figs, chopped
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
100g caster sugar
185g honey
60g dark chocolate, chopped finely

Preheat your oven to 170° and prepare a 22cm round cake tin with baking paper. Combine the nuts, rind and fruit in a large bowl and sift over the cocoa, flour and mixed spice.

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the sugar and honey and stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer the mixture until it reaches 118° on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Remove from heat, add the chocolate and stir through. Immediately pour over fruit and nut mixture and mix (it will firm up considerably).

Press the mixture into the prepared pan until even. Bake for 40 minutes then allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire tray. If cutting into pieces allow to cool completely first.

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Jaffa Fudge Brownies

I had a rough day yesterday. Nothing significant, just a hard day on placement, but one that made me question my ability to succeed in this career. I came home wanting nothing but comfort. Unfortunately my husband is interstate for work and I was too tired to visit friends. So instead I called my mum and made brownies.

I’ve always loved the combination of orange and chocolate. For these brownies I was inspired by the crunchy bite sized Jaffa lollies. They were always a top choice for movies (and go really well with popcorn!) and I have fond memories of my sister and I using the bright red coating as lipstick when we were younger. I wanted to re-create some of the fun I associate with them.

These brownies are super dense and fudgy. Rich and chocolatey with a hit of orange and some lovely crunch from the edges and Jaffa pieces, they’re a total indulgence. Perfect for a bad day. Because they’re so rich I cut mine into bite sized pieces but feel free to leave them larger if you think you can handle it!

I recommend using good quality dark chocolate as you really do taste it in this recipe. I added Cointreau to my curd to boost the orange flavour but feel free to leave this out. The only thing I would change for next time is to chop the Jaffa’s instead of processing them. Although this would be time consuming I think having larger chunks in the batter would be fantastic. To make them easier to cut allow the brownies to cool in the fridge overnight.

 

Jaffa Brownies

4 oz dark (70% cocoa) chocolate
¾ cup butter
1¾ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 cup flour
¼ cup orange curd
½ cup Jaffa’s (or other choc-orange lollies)

Preheat oven to 180° and grease and line a 7×7 inch pan. In large bowl over simmering water melt chocolate and butter. Add sugar and eggs and stir through thoroughly. Add vanilla, flour and salt and stir until mixed through and smooth.

Separate the mixture into two bowls. Process the Jaffa’s in a food processor until you have small pieces. Mix the Jaffa’s through one bowl and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool in pan.

Spoon orange curd over brownie layer and smooth out leaving a ½cm gap around the edges. Carefully spoon the second brownie mix over the curd starting near the centre and working outwards. When completely covered bake for 10-15 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely in the pan then refrigerate before cutting.

Orange Curd

¾ cup orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest, finely chopped or grated
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
½ cup caster sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
30ml Cointreau (optional)

Combine the eggs and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir until mixed. Add the orange juice, zest and butter and heat slowly over a low heat, stirring constantly. Do not heat too quickly or the egg will curdle.

Continue to heat until curd is thick and smooth, and coats the back of a spoon. This could be anywhere between 10-20 minutes depending on how thick you’d like it. The curd will continue to thicken somewhat when cooling.

When ready pour through a fine sieve to catch any cooked egg strands. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

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