Although not strictly related to growing-your-own, baking and home crafts are still likely to be topics that crop up in this blog. Easter has been a time of fun in the kitchen, for both WH and myself. My first attempts at hot cross buns from scratch went down exceedingly well (we'll gloss over the second attempt to create apple and cinnamon versions, where the apple sunk, didn't taste of much and the glaze went wrong. We also enjoyed decorating some chocolate buns (some of us enjoyed this a little too much for a grown man ...)
Hot Cross Buns
Made with assistance from my Panasonic Automatic Breadmaker SD-255*.
To make the dough
1/2 tsp yeast
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp sugar
25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium egg
100 ml water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
100g mixed dried fruit (added to raisin nut dispenser)
Put this on the basic dough raisin setting (2 hrs 20 mins).
To make the buns
Divide the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray. Prove - I do this by putting on my bottom oven to heat up to the temp I'm going to bake at and stick the dough in the top oven which gets nice and warm. Takes between 20 and 40 mins.
My favourite part - mix 2 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp water for piping on the crosses. I don't have a piping bag, so I put the paste into a sandwich bag and cut a tiny bit off the corner - voila! Home-made piping bag.
Place the crossed buns in the oven at 220C or Gas 7 for about 20 mins
Meanwhile make up a sugar glaze with 40g sugar in 4 tbsp water boiled in a pan. Brush this over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. Totally yummy!
*This recipe was taken from the operating instructions and recipes leaflet provided with the Panasonic Breadmaker - for the record, I've followed quite a number of these and have never gone wrong apart from with the cakes....!
To make my apple and cinnamon buns I peeled and cored a medium cooking apple and chopped it into small chunks. I simmered this in some butter over a medium heat to cook the apple for about 1o mins, then added this to the dispenser drawer. I also added an extra tsp of cinnamon to the spices mix. These buns were ok, but nothing like the shop bought ones of the same variety (a particular let down after the success of the first batch). On reflection, I'd substitute the water in the dough mix for apple juice and put in more chopped apple too, straight into the bread pan, rather than in the dispenser.
Iced chocolate buns
To make the buns
150g unsalted butter
150g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
115g self raising flour
35g cocoa powder (Green and Blacks is excellent!)
1/2 tsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp milk
Heat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Put 12 paper cases in a tart tin (I used a muffin tin). Beat the butter and caster sugar until it is light and fluffy.Gradually add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and add a pinch of salt. Add enough milk to make the mixture drop easily from a spoon. NB I had to use far more than 4 tbsp....
Divide the mix between the cases and bake for 20 mins.
An interesting little variation on this could be to add a square of chocolate, pushed into each case to give a 'melting middle'. Hmm - just thought that one up on the spot, so don't quote me!
To make the icing
Follow the instructions on the icing sugar box! Then you can add colourings as we did, making use of the sandwich-bag-come-piper trick again to create our lovely patterns.