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

Mexican breakfast lasagna

Mexican breakfast lasagna
When a box of tortillas arrived from Mi Rancho and I opened the box, the smell can only be described as what I would imagine their tortilla factory smells like, freshly made tortillas. 

My husbands eyes lit up and he instantly said “enchiladas” with a smile, which are his favorite Mexican dish. But I was inspired in a different way, I wanted to make something different that regular Mexican entrees. For some reason a breakfast burrito came into my head, but that has been done so many times and you have to make each individual one. I wanted to develop a make ahead dish  that can be taken by on-the-go, and so the Mexican breakfast lasagna was born.

We all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it energizes and fuels your body and brain. Hands up everyone who just grabs a coffee and hits the road? Yes, you know who you are. Just think, you could whip this dish up on Sunday afternoon, cut a piece off Monday morning, it takes 2 minutes to heat up in the microwave, breakfast, done. You will have breakfast all week long.
If you can chop tomatoes and scramble eggs, you can make this dish.

The quickest way to put this dish together is start by preparing your ingredients. Make the salsas, then scramble the eggs. 

I like to have an assembly line ready to build the lasagna, which makes for speedy work.
Mexican breakfast lasagna
Start by adding an even layer of tortillas into a buttered baking dish. I used flour tortillas since they are usually used for breakfast burritos, but you can use corn. Then you just start adding the layers.


With Easter just around the corner, this would make a great addition to your Easter brunch menu.


Mexican breakfast lasagna                               print

(serves 4)        

Ingredients                                                             

  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, chopped small
  • 2 teaspoons red onion, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large eggs, scrambled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 10-12 flour or corn tortillas
  • 10 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • Quick and easy corn salsa (recipe)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, add the cherry tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño and red onion, mix.
  2. Add the lime juice and a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix well and set aside for the flavors to combine.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium low heat and add the butter.
  6. When the butter is melted pour in the beaten eggs and stir.
  7. Continue to stir the eggs until they are at the required doneness. I would recommend the eggs be slightly under done because they will be baked in the oven.
  8. Remove the eggs from the heat.
  9. Take a 8 x 8 casserole dish and butter the bottom.
  10. Take a flour tortilla and line the bottom of the dish. Make sure the entire area is covered. Break the tortillas if needed to get an even coverage.
  11. Spread 1/3 of the eggs over the tortillas.
  12. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the grated cheddar.
  13. Add 1/3 of the corn salsa.
  14. Add  another layer of tortilla.
  15. Spread another 1/3 of the eggs.
  16. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the cheddar.
  17. Spread 1/3 of the corn salsa.
  18. Sprinkle with cheddar.
  19. Add the last layer of tortilla, the rest of the eggs, the rest of the corn and finish so the top layer is cheddar cheese.
  20. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  21. Allow to cool before cutting so it can set and makes it easier to slice.
  22. Serve with the tomato salsa and your favorite sides.

    Mexican breakfast lasagna

    Mexican breakfast lasagna
    Mexican breakfast lasagna

    Promotional consideration provided by Mi Rancho

    Mexican breakfast lasagna


    Kumquat marmalade

    Kumquat marmalade

    Kumquats, they’re mini oranges with an interesting name. There are 3 varieties of the fruit, in this recipe I’m using the oval. They also come in round and the Jiangsu variety which can be round or bell shaped. 

    In the process of making this marmalade, I couldn’t help think about spreading it on a lovely warm scone with clotted cream, think I might have to make some.

    If you’re like me and you prefer marmalade that is not too chunky, you will need to chop the Kumquats very small. They also have seeds and removing them is quite a tedious task, so I found that if you cut them lengthwise you can see the seeds and remove them easier. If you find when you cut them, that the white pith inside looks really dry, remove it.
    To save yourself from chopping madness, I found that putting the halves in the food processor and pulsing, makes for a much quicker process than trying to finely chop by hand. This is also helps release some of the juices and oils from the zest.
    Kumquat marmalade
    Another handy tip: when you are ready to transfer the marmalade to your jars, pour the marmalade into a glass measuring jug, that makes for easy transfer into the jars.
    Kumquat marmalade
    Ingredients (yields 32 ounces)        metric conversion           print recipe
    • 12 ounces Kumquats
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 cup fresh orange juice
    • 3 cups fine sugar
    • 1 candy thermometer (see note)
    • 4 jars with lids, sterilized ** (see note)

    Directions
    1. Cut the Kumquats lengthwise and remove any seeds and dry pith.
    2. Add to the food processor and pulse until very small.
    3. In a medium saucepan, add all the ingredients.
    4. Stir until combined over medium heat.
    5. Attach candy thermometer to the pan.
    6. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the temperature reaches 220 degrees F/104 degrees C on the candy thermometer.
    7. Skim any foam that is on the top.

    * If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place a small plate in the freezer for an hour before you start. To test if the marmalade is ready, drop  a little onto the plate and if it gels, it’s ready.

    ** To sterilize the jars, wash with warm soapy water and rinse well. Arrange the jars and lids onto a baking sheet and leave in a preheated, 175 degree F/80 degree C oven for 25 minutes. Or, boil the jars and lids in large saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Allow to dry completely.
     Kumquat marmalade



    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

    Pancakes and planes

    Waypoint Cafe Camarillo Airport There are very few breakfast restaurants that have a cooler setting to watch planes and eat pancakes than this, Waypoint Cafe at the Camarillo Airport, just south of Santa Barbara California. We walk in behind a group of Top Gun looking young men, and one woman, in their flight suits, they really did look fresh off a movie set.  Do they have to have a certain look, because they all had it.  Good looks.
    An outdoor seat on the patio is the only place to sit. You can watch pilot get their private prop planes read to take to the skies and if you’re like me who likes to plane watch, you can enter their tail number into the Flightaware app and get the plane stats.

    View

    Breakfast for me was waffle, scrambled eggs and bacon. The waffles are so crisp which I prefer, there’s nothing worse than rubbery waffles.  Even though I chose waffles over pancakes, I think I made the right choice. 

    culinary ginger tip of the day