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

Christmas pudding with brandy cream

Christmas pudding with brandy cream


Traditionally the great British traditional Christmas pudding was a labor of love, I think that’s why my mother used to buy them instead of making them. The recipe would consist of a lot ingredients, soaking dried fruit overnight and steaming the pudding for 8 hours, what madness. 

So after much research, I came up with a recipe with fewer ingredients, healthier (no vegetable shortening) and make individual puddings that take only 35 minutes to bake in the oven, instead of 1 large pudding. The mixture can be made 3 days in advance and kept cool in the fridge, so you can just bake them off  Christmas Day and serve them  nice and warm  with  brandy cream. 
Brandy cream is the traditionally accompaniment to the Christmas pudding, it just adds a nice creamy addition to the pudding

Christmas pudding with brandy cream



Ingredients (makes 16 muffin size puddings)    metric conversion       print recipe
  • 26 ounces mixed dried fruit (I used golden raisins, dark raisins, dried cranberries)
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • 2 bags black tea
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 7 ounces/14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, finely grated

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl add boiling water to the 2 teabags, allow to soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the teabags.
  4. Add the sherry  and the brandy to the tea.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add all the dried fruit and pour over the sherry, brandy tea mix and stir.
  6. Allow the liquid to come to room temperature.
  7. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 1 hour.
  8. In a large mixing bowl whisk the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy.
  9. While whisking add the eggs, one at a time until mixed.
  10. Add the flour, ginger, nutmeg, breadcrumbs  chocolate and mix until combined.
  11. Drain the dried fruit and add to the flour mixture, stir until combined.
  12. Brush 3 muffin pans with the melted butter.
  13. Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, divide the mixture between all the muffin pans, flatten the tops and make them even.
  14. Cover the muffin pans with parchment paper.
  15. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each pudding comes out clean.
  16. Allow the puddings to cool in the muffin pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a cool rack.
Store leftover puddings in a plastic container with lid. To reheat, put the puddings in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute.


Brandy cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar (use 3 if you like it sweeter)
  • 3 tablespoons brandy

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients (the cream will whip faster if it is really cold)
  2. Whip the mixture until it develops soft peaks.
  3. Serve on top of warm or room temperature puddings.


Christmas pudding with brandy cream


Today is National Yorkshire Pudding Day!

alt Yorkshire Pudding
Growing up in England Sunday dinner was a weekly tradition in our household, The British Sunday Roast. Every week it would be a different roast, lamb, beef, pork and was always accompanied with Yorkshire pudding. It adds a wonderful crispy element to the meal and it is a great vessel for your gravy, like a built-in gravy boat if you will.
What is a Yorkshire Pudding?
It is a batter based pudding made from flour, eggs and milk. The batter is added to smoking hot oil, or  drippings (usually from a roast) and cooked in a very hot oven until brown, puffed and crispy. Traditionally the pudding would have been cooked below the meat that was on a spit above a fire, so the juices could drip onto them while they cooked, hence the name ‘drippings’.

Find out where it came from along with an easy recipe.

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