Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns


If there’s a food that reminds me of Easter as a child, it’s the hot cross bun. Warm and fresh out of the oven served with butter, is the best. The hot cross bun is a spiced, slightly sweet bun with currants, raisins or sultanas, traditionally eaten in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada for breakfast on Good Friday. 

Hot cross buns

We all know good food takes time, so there’s a little kneading involved and a little rising, the buns, not you. The dough is kneaded after mixing and then left to rise. The dough is then kneaded again, shaped into buns and then risen for the second time. Before they are baked a cross is cut the top with a sharp knife and a paste of flour, sugar and water  is piped into the cuts so when the buns are baked the cross is visible. 


Hot Cross Buns                                                    print

(yields 12 large buns)  

Ingredients                                                              

For the buns

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, 1 cold cubed 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup currant
  • 2 ounces dried yeast
  • 1 cups milk, warmed
  • 2 medium eggs

For the crosses

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

For the bun glaze

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Sift the white flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the spices, sugar, dried fruit and yeast. Make a well in the centre. Beat the milk and eggs together and pour into the flour. 
  3. Mix well to a soft dough. 
  4. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for about 45 mins to rise. 
  5. Turn out dough and knead lightly for a few minutes. 
  6. Divide into 12 and shape each piece into a bun. 
  7. Place well apart on the baking sheet, and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for 45 mins, until doubled in size then cut a cross in the top of each bun with a sharp knife.
  8. Mix the flour with 3-4 tbsp cold water to form a paste. 
  9. Pipe a cross on top of each bun inside the crosses.
  10. Bake the buns for 15-20 mins.
  11. Put the sugar into a cup with 1 tbsp boiling water and stir until syrupy. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze while still warm. Cool on a wire rack.
  12. To store the buns, keep in an air tight container for up to 4 days.
  13. If you find the buns getting too firm, I like to microwave them (one at a time) for about 20 seconds, this will soften them up and also make them nice and warm.

Hot Cross Buns



Hot cross buns

Berry custard tart

Berry custard tart
When I think of Spring, I think of colorful fruit and berries. This berry custard tart is a great platform to showcase the gorgeous fruit of the season.

Berry custard tart



The filling for the tart is a classic English custard, which is thick and creamy with hint of vanilla over a buttery crust. 

Berry custard tart


Before baking the tart shell, it is important to note a couple of things so you end up with the best crust possible. Firstly, chill the crust in the fridge to prevent shrinking during baking. Then, the tart crust will be ‘blind baked’. This just means that the dough is cooked and browned before the shell is filled.



Ingredients (yields 8-10 servings )                                 print recipe
For the  pastry

  • 1 egg yolk, cold
  • 2 tablespoons very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold cut into cubes

For the custard

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fine bakers sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Kiwi, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the pastry

  1. In a small bowl mix the egg yolk, water and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor.
  3. Pulse until small crumbs are formed.
  4. With the food processor running, add the egg and water mixture through the feed tube until it comes together in a ball.  If it seems like it is not coming together, drizzle in a small amount of cold water until it forms a ball.
  5. Remove the dough and wrap in plastic wrap for 10-15 minutes, or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  6. Using a piece of parchment paper larger than the tart pan, lightly flour the paper and roll out the dough  using a rolling pin until you get a circle that is slightly larger than your tart pan.
  7. Lift the dough using the parchment paper and lay the dough into the tart pan and it press up the sides. Use a rolling pin over the pan to cut off excess dough.
  8. Prick the entire dough with a fork evenly to prevent the dough bubbling.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Set aside and allow to cool.

For the custard

  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar.
  2. Over medium heat bring to a boil.
  3. While the milk is coming to a boil, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. 
  4. Stir together the 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch, then stir into the eggs until smooth.
  5. Whisk 1/3 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture. This will temper the eggs and stop them from curdling or cooking.
  6. Add the rest of the milk slowly to the egg mixture while whisking.
  7. Return the mixture to the saucepan, over low heat stir the mixture constantly stirring so the eggs don’t burn on the bottom of the pan, until thickened.
  8. Once the custard has thickened, remove from the heat.
  9. Stir in the butter and the vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  10. Transfer the custard into a glass storage dish and put plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent a skin. Cover with a lid
  11. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can last up to 1 week refrigerated.

To assemble the tart

  1. Add the cooled custard to the cooled tart shell and smooth the top and spread to the edges.
  2. Top with the berries.


Berry custard tart

Chocolate caramel turtle cupcakes

Chocolate caramel turtle cupcakes


Well they don’t look like turtles, you say. The name comes from turtle candies that consist of caramel, chocolate and pecans that are shaped to resemble a turtle. 
These cupcakes were made for my husbands birthday. His favorite dessert is turtle cheesecake, but I wanted to make something different for him, so I came up with these cupcakes.

Quite the indulgence, these cupcakes come with a nice surprise inside, more caramel. To me, that just makes a cupcake more exciting because not only do you have fun on top, there’s fun in the middle too. To do this, you cut out a cone shaped section, cut the bottom of the cone off so you’re left with a lid and after you’ve filled the cupcake you just pop the lid back on. 

Chocolate caramel turtle cupcakes.


Storage: I only frost however many cupcakes I need because the frosting will not last as long as the cupcake. I put the unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container and they will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Frosted cupcakes will keep about 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container.


Chocolate caramel turtle cupcakes


Chocolate caramel turtle cupcakes


Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)                                        print recipe

For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2  cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • Salted caramel sauce (recipe)
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted * (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pecan pieces. * (see notes)
For the coffee buttercream:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee, cold
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the chocolate sauce:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
Directions:

For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cake cups. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the buttermilk and the vanilla. Set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter until smooth.
  6. Add the granulated sugar and the brown sugar and mix until fluffy.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. 
  8. Add the chocolate and mix well.
  9. Add 1/3 of the flour/ baking soda mixture, mix well. Alternate with the buttermilk vanilla mixture and flour mixture, ending with the flour and baking soda. Mix until incorporated, do not over mix, it should resemble chocolate mousse.
  10. Fill each cake cup 2/3 full with the mixture using an ice cream scoop.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  12. Cool in the muffin pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool.
For the coffee buttercream:
  1. In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Start slowly or you will end up covered in powdered sugar.
  3. Add the cold coffee and heavy cream. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 more tablespoon heavy cream.
  4. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with closed star tip and pipe onto cupcakes.
For the chocolate sauce:

  1. Heat the heavy cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chocolate while stirring, until melted and smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
To assemble the cupcakes:
  1. Take a cooled muffin. Cut a circle about 1 inch in diameter and 2/3 of the way down the inside of the muffin, will be in the shape of a cone. Remove and set aside.
  2. Drizzle into the hole the salted caramel sauce until 2/3 full.
  3. Take the cone piece that was cut out and remove the cone  so you are left with a circular ‘lid’. Place back on top of the muffin.
  4. With the piping bag filled with the buttercream, pipe onto the cupcakes.
  5. Drizzle the tops with chocolate sauce, salted caramel and sprinkle toasted pecans.

*To melt chocolate, place in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds, check and stir. Keep doing this until the chocolate is melted. Be careful not to overheat.
*To toast pecans, add to a small skillet. Cook over low heat, turning often, until you start to smell them and they are evenly browned.


Chocolate caramel turtle cupcakes



Low carb cloud bread

 Low carb cloud bread

I don’t normally go for low carb recipes, but I do go for healthy. As I mentioned in my spaghetti squash with chicken meatballs post, I have a friend on a low carb diet. 
She of course misses bread, as everyone does, so after doing some research I starting reading about cloud bread. All of the recipes I saw used artificial sweeteners as they have no carbs, but I don’t like to cook with anything artificial so I use agave instead and they are still very low in carbs.

Low carb cloud bread


The cloud bread is light and fluffy from whipping eggs whites, then carefully folding in the egg yolks and cottage cheese. What you are left with are light fluffy discs that could really be used in place of buns for a sandwich and I think would be perfectly satisfying.

I don’t normally do a nutrition breakdown for my recipes, but had to in this case and since this recipe is only 4 ingredients,  it wasn’t that difficult. With only 1.1 grams of carbs per serving, I would say that’s pretty good.


Per serving (8 servings in this recipe)
38 calories; 1.1 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein;  2 grams total fat;  .1 grams fiber; 1 grams sugar;  26 grams sodium
Ingredients (makes 8 large rounds)                 print

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature, whites and yolks separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons cottage cheese, 4 % milk fat, small curds
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Take 2 baking sheets and spray them with non stick spray, set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl add the egg whites and cream of tartar. With a hand mixer (makes sure beaters are clean) mix until fluffy and have peaks. Set aside.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the cottage cheese, the egg yolks and the agave until smooth.
  5. Add 1/3 of the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Add the mixture on the side, then carefully fold in the yolks so you don’t deflate the egg whites. Do this 2 more times.
  6. Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
  7. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, keep an eye on them.
  8. Remove from the oven and loosen them slightly with a spatula and allow to cool for about 10  minutes.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
    Low carb cloud bread


    Salted caramel orange upside down cake

    Salted caramel orange upside down cake
    Upside down, right side up, this turned into one delicious cake.  It is surprisingly not as sweet as it looks and if you’re like me, I do not like overly sweet cakes, even the caramel is not too sweet. It is just sweet enough with a hint of salt and the toasted ground almonds in the cake batter add that extra nutty texture. 

    Salted caramel orange upside down cake
    I would say the most time consuming part of this recipe is segmenting the oranges. If you have never done it before, it is easy and you will have the hang of it quickly, just keep those fingers out of the way. When you are done segmenting, don’t forget to squeeze what’s left the oranges to get the juice out, making for a refreshing drink for the cook. 
    Taking the time to arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern really makes for a nice presentation at the end and you’ll be very pleased with yourself that you did.

    Salted caramel orange upside down cake


    Ingredients (8-10 servings)   metric conversion        print recipe

    For the caramel

    • 2/3 cup of fine bakers sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon salted butter


    For the cake

    • 4 to 5 oranges
    • 1/2 cup of almonds (whole or sliced)
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 stick salted butter, room temperature
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon orange zest
    • 1/2 cup sour cream


    Directions

    For the caramel

    1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar, water and salt. 
    2. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
    3. Cook until the mixture turns amber, about 10 minutes.
    4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter (it will bubble).
    5. Pour into a 9 inch round baking dish in an even layer. 
    6. Set aside.


    For the cake

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. With a small knife, cut the top and the bottom off the oranges and with the orange cut side down. 
    3. Following the curve of the orange, from top to bottom start slicing away the rind, and the pithe until it they are completely peeled.
    4. Holding the orange in one hand, cut out orange segments by cutting either side of the white membranes.
    5. Work your way around until the whole orange is segmented.
    6. Set the segments aside.
    7. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet roast in the oven for 10 minutes, keep an eye on them.
    8. Set aside to cool.
    9. Once they are cool, add to a food processor and process until fine.
    10. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. Mix to combine.
    11. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. 
    12. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
    13. Beat in the orange zest.
    14. Reduce the mixer to low speed then add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream, ending with flour mixture until smooth.
    15. Arrange the orange segments on top of the caramel in concentric circles in the cake pan.
    16. Spread the batter over the orange segments and smooth.
    17. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    18. If you find the cake is browning too quickly, you can tent it will foil.
    19. Transfer to a rack and cool for a few minutes.
    20. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn out onto a platter.
    21. Allow to cool completely.
    Salted caramel orange upside down cake

    Salted caramel orange upside down cake