Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

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In between writing essays and wondering what an earth I’m going to get up to when I graduate (so much fun…) I decided to try my hand at making Hot Cross buns. These scrummy spiced buns are the epitome of all Easter treats to me. Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without them.  I actually picked this recipe out of a recent copy Good Housekeeping that my Mum left lying around. They taste great and look adorable, although I think they could do with another handful of fruit just to make them really pop! The great thing about these buns is that, like most of my favourite things in life, you can customize them. If you have a hankering for chocolate and wouldn’t dare giving it up for Lent, then throw some chocolate chips into the mix. Add mixed peel, apples, oranges – all sorts! – into the dough.

So without further ado, here’s how to make Hot Cross buns

 

INGREDIENTS

450g white bread flour

75g caster sugar

7g pack of dried fast-action yeast

300ml full-fat milk

75g butter, melted

1 egg

50g sultanas

Pinch of ground cinnamon

FOR THE TOPPING

50g plain flour

2tbsp sugar

 

1.)    Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.

-          I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but, make sure you keep the salt and yeast separate at this point! Don’t let them mix because the salt will deactivate the yeast and your bake will not be very happy at all!

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2.)    Beat the egg and heat the milk in a saucepan over a gentle heat, and then add to the flour along with the melted butter and the egg.

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3.)    Mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth and elastic dough – if you’re using an electric mixer, you should stop mixing once you hear a slapping noise –

-          The mix was very very wet at this point! But not to panic, wetter really is better when it comes to dough.

4.)    Tip your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until your dough is very smooth and stretchy.

-          Lightly flour your hands whilst kneading as this will help stop the dough from sticking to you too much. Another handy tip is to work quickly – the faster you move the dough the less it sticks to the surface.

5.)    When the dough is ready pop it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with Clingfilm. Place it somewhere warm and leave to rise for 1-2 hrs. The dough should be ready once it has doubled in size.

6.)    Push the heel of your hand into the centre of the dough and pour in your fruit and cinnamon. Then knead the dough until the spices and fruit are evenly distributed.

-          I would recommend kneading the dough in the bowl. It’s easier to get the fruit and the dough to stick together if you push it against the side of the bowl.

7.)    Once you’re happy with the dough, cover it again and leave it to rise for 1-1 ½ hours. Pre-heat the oven to 200*C (This is on a fan oven, you may have to adjust according to your own oven)

8.)    It’s now time to shape your buns! Divide your mix into around 12 pieces and shape into balls. Place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving plenty of space between each bun as they will spread in the oven. Set the buns to one side whilst you make the topping.

9.)    Mix 50g of plain flour with enough water to make a thick paste that can be piped or spooned. Add more water or flour as needed. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and then go crazy! – or not – Pipe those beautiful crosses onto each bun.

-          Tip on how to fill a piping bag – Rest your piping bag in a pint glass or whatever tall receptacle you have to hand (I used an empty kitchen roll tube resting in a tall bit of Tupperware because I don’t actually own a pint glass. Terrible student, I know) and spoon your pipable mixture in. Anything that comes out of the nozzle will be caught in the bottom of the glass so less mess!

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10.)Bake your buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.  Because of the sugar in the dough they will colour quickly, so I recommend keeping a beady eye on them.

11.)Once they’re done, take them out of the oven and place them on a wire cooling rack.

-          Don’t get rid of the greaseproof paper you lined the trays with just yet! Put them underneath the cooling rack. When you come to glaze the buns it will catch all of the syrup that runs off and so makes tiding up SO much easier!

12.)While the buns are cooling, heat some sugar with some water in a pan over a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Brush the buns all over so they look all glossy and gorgeous.

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13.)Eat these up warm and just enjoy those little bundles of Easter-yness!


Jaffa Cakes

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This Saturday my housemate and I decided to have a go at baking something new. We wanted something easy, cheap, and most importantly tasty. We turned to Sorted Food for ideas and stumbled across the perfect recipe: Jaffa Cakes!

With only 6 ingredients this is a great student recipe

An orange

Dark Chocolate

Plain flour

2 eggs

Caster sugar

Orange Jelly

http://sortedfood.com/#!/jaffacakes/

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These jaffa cakes were quick and easy to make, and really tasty. Definitely one to try out!

 

Pear and Blueberry Tart.

Surprise surprise, this one also came out of the Hummingbird bakery.

Having said that, I adapted it a little, adding some left over flaked almonds to the mix. The pastry was wonderful, and managed to hold quite a wet filling very well. I made this as a substitute for Christmas pudding (myself being the kid of the family I still haven’t managed to get my tastebuds around Christmas pudding or sprouts). The marzipan and the whisky meant that this tart wasn’t out of place on the menu, however, like the cheesy shortbreads I wouldn’t banish it solely to the festive period. The fruit can be adapted for anything that’s in season, and the recipe is reasonably light so could take pride of place at a summer dinner party also.

Anyway, here’s some pictures to get you going

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Parmesan Shortbreads.

You may have noticed a theme running through this blog…I love all things from the Hummingbird Bakery.

I was particularly excited to see some savoury recipes in their most recent cookbook and had to give these cheesy shortbread biscuits a go.

They were great! I put a little too much pepper in, but the cayenne pepper gives these shortbreads a fireyness to warm the tummy. Perfect with some mulled wine in front of the telly or nibbles at a dinner party, these shortbreads should not be confined to Christmas. They are just too good!

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The Stollen.

Apologies for the radio silence over the last couple of months. Nothing can prepare you for how crazy the final year of uni will be!

I thought for now I would give you a little update on what I baked over the Christmas period, and give you some links for recipes etc. Not everything I made was totally festive, so you could make these all year round if you fancy.

But first off, I have something to admit. I didn’t make a single mince pie this year. Not even one. I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 over Christmas where a woman was encouraging people not to make their own mince pies. Her argument was that we feel we ought to make them, and we don’t make them because we enjoy it. Now I can’t disagree enough. I love making my own mince pies, even if it is shop bought mince and pastry. There’s something festive and wholly therapeutic about sticking on an apron, some Christmas music and getting out your rolling pin. Anyway, long preamble over, I didn’t make mince pies this year because I decided to have a go at making stollen.

I turned to Mr. Paul Hollywood for a recipe and as always it was reliable and tasty. In fact, the only problem I really encountered whilst making the stollen was the lack of marzipan in any of the shops! I really didn’t anticipate a marzipan shortage around Christmas. Nevertheless, I got on the internet and managed to find a simply recipe for homemade marzipan.

As with any recipe which involved proving, it was a long bake and took me most of the day. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way to spend a winter’s day!

So here’s how it turned out

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And here are the recipes I used:

Paul Hollywood: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/stollen_27553

Marzipan: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8164/easy-vanilla-marzipan

Red Wine and Onion Baguettes

Red Wine and Onion Baguettes.

This is another recipe that I’ve never made before. I really enjoy making bread, but I am yet to fully master the skill of baking a perfect loaf! I had a few setbacks in following this recipe – mainly that I don’t own a set of scales at my university house!

I estimated 10g of salt as about 1.75 teaspoons, and had to guess the size of the eggs. I had two large eggs, which weighed roughly 63-73g each (according to the internet!). 250g of milk is about 1 cup. Considering this was all guess work, I’m surprised I didn’t have a bread catastrophe on my hands!

Ingredients:

400g Plain white flour

100g Strong white flour

14g Yeast

10g salt

2 Eggs

250g Milk (roughly)

40g Caster sugar

1 Large onion

Olive Oil

3TPS Red wine vinegar

Bread

 

Method:

Combine the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Make sure you keep the salt and yeast separate.

Break the two eggs into a saucepan, and add roughly one cup of milk (you may need more or less depending on the size of your eggs – if you can, weigh your eggs and add enough milk to make the total weight to 350g!) Mix in 40g of sugar and put on a low heat, stirring all the time until it is just warm.

Making your hand into a claw shape, mix together the wet and dry ingredients together. You should get soft dough. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is nice and smooth. You may find you need to add more milk here if the dough is too tight. Leave in the bowl and cover with Clingfilm whilst you prepare the onions.

Slice the onions thinly and soften in a pan on a medium heat with the olive oil. They should be slightly browned, but not too soft – you want some bite left to them. Then throw in the red wine vinegar and reduce until the onions are sticky. This should only take a few minutes. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Onions

When the onions are just warm, combine them into the dough until the colour is even all the way through. Place back in the large bowl, cover with Clingfilm and leave to rest in a warm place until it has doubled in size. For me, this took about an hour.

Once the dough has risen, place it on a heavily floured surface and begin to shape into a baguette. Pre-heat the oven to 210*C (my oven only goes up to 200…) and place a baking tray on the top shelf. If you want a really crispy crust, place a shallow baking tray on the bottom shelf of the oven and fill with water. This will create a steam bath – great for producing a crust.

Bread 3

Prove again for 30-40 minutes on a floured tea towel. It is a good idea to separate each baguette with a fold in the tea towel so that they support each other and keep their shape. Once you have proved, bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. The baguettes will colour quickly, so you want the crust quite dark.

September Cupcakes.

I feel I should explain what September cupcakes are…these cupcakes are a really comforting blend of lavender, bergamot and lemon. They are just summery enough to enjoy during a warm Indian summer, but also rich enough to eat whilst watching the rain fall: the perfect summer-autumn transition bake!

This is the first recipe I’ve ever invented. I’ve made Earl Grey cupcakes which were topped with a velvety buttercream, but I decided that I wanted to have a go at trying something new. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I have!

Recipe:

2 Earl Grey and Lavender teabags (Twinings do a good blend),

2 tbsp just boiled water,

40g Unsalted butter,

140g Caster sugar,

120g Plain flour,

½ tbsp Baking powder,

Pinch of salt,

100ml Milk,

1 Large egg,

½  Large lemon,

30g Caster sugar.

 

Method:

1.)Pop the teabags in a mug and add the water. Leave to boil for roughly 30 minutes.

2.) Preheat the oven to 190*C and line your cupcake tin with cases.

3.) Using a whisk or food processer, mix together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. It should look like fine breadcrumbs.

4.) Then pour the milk and eggs into a jug and whisk by hand. Add the tea which has been brewing, squeezing every drop from the teabags.

4.)Add about ¾ of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth and thick consistency. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, making sure there are no unmixed ingredients. Then add the rest of the milk and beat until you have a smooth batter.

5.) Place the mix into the paper cases. (Tip: Only fill the cases to roughly two-thirds full – the cakes will rise more!)

6.) Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until risen and springy. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin whilst you make the lemon syrup.

7.) Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a saucepan and add the caster sugar. Add about a tablespoon of water and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Make sure not to burn the syrup!

8.) Once the syrup is finish, drizzle over the warm cupcakes. It is best to leave them in the tin for this so the syrup doesn’t go all over the surface.

9.) Dust the cupcakes with a little more caster sugar and serve with a warm pot of tea!

September cake

 

Oreo Brownies

Oreo Brownies.

I don’t often make brownies. If I’m honest, I get put off by the dry, crumbly brownies sold in the shops. But I can’t turn down oreos, and this recipe looked just too good to turn down.

I used Lorraine Pascale’s recipe. I haven’t used any of her recipes before and decided to tweak it a little by adding some coffee. From previous attempts at brownies, I remember being interested at the idea of adding coffee so thought I would give it a go. I used smaller eggs than usual to compensate for the extra liquid.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/cookies_and_cream_fudge_48648

Oreo Brownies

And they didn’t disappoint! These brownies have to be some of the best I’ve ever had. With a shot of strong, dark coffee, these brownies are packed full of flavour and moisture. Unlike more biscuit-y brownies, these ones turn out more like a cake, and are perfect for an indulgent chocolaty dessert or afternoon treat. I served them with strawberries over the summer – adding fruit helps to pretend that they’re a little healthier than they are! – but they would be great with a scattering of blueberries or a scoop of ice cream. It’s up to you really.

Oreo Brownies

 

 

Bounty Bar Cupcakes

Bounty Bar Cupcakes

This is another of The Hummingbird Bakery’s creations. From the newest of their recipe books, these cupcakes inspired by the chocolate bar are one of my favourites. The batter is a standard chocolate mix, made more inviting by the addition of a piece of coconut chocolate (which sinks in the baking, but is tasty all the same). The icing is particularly special however. Coconut milk is incorporated into a butter icing mix, making it rich, velvety, and wonderfully flavoursome. The presentation is finished with a generous sprinkling of dessicated coconut and another piece of chocolate.

Bounty Bar Cupcakes

Bounty Bar Cupcakes

Unfortunately, this is not a cheap recipe. The dessicated coconut and coconut milk are pricey ingredients. The recipe asks for small amounts of each, leaving you with awkward leftovers.That being said, I would absolutely recommend trying these cupcakes out. The cake base is light but moist while the icing is really something. There is also something enticing about the white icing against the dark chocolate.

Bounty Bar Cupcakes

Bounty Bar Cupcakes

Coconut Jam Sandwiches

Ingredients

Base: 30g unsalted butter

175g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

50g caster sugar

2 large egg yolks

Topping: 175g desiccated coconut

175g caster sugar

4 egg whites

50g plain flour

150g jam (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or plum – your choice!)

Recipe

1.) Preheat the oven to 170*C (325*F, Gas mark 3) and grease a baking tray or line with greaseproof paper.

2.) Slowly mix the butter, flour and baking powder together until they look like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and stir in.

3.) Mix the two egg yolks with two tablespoons of water then pour into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

4.) Press the mixture into the tin, pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the base is golden. Allow to cool completely before adding any topping. Nb. It is a good idea to leave the oven on so it is ready to cook the bars once the topping has been added.

5.) In a pan, mix together the coconut, sugar and one of the egg whites with two tablespoons of water. Stir over a low heat for roughly 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture comes together to form a thick paste. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring all the time for another minute. Tip into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool a bit.

6.) Using an electric whisk, whip the remaining three egg whites until stiff. Add about one third of the egg whites to the coconut mixture and mix to loosen it a little. Add the remaining egg white and fold gently with a large metal spoon until everything is incorporated.

7.) Spread the jam over the cooled base.

8.) Top with the coconut mixture, spreading evenly. Then place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Allow the bars to completely cool in the tin before cutting into slices.IMG_0096