Category Archives: Recipes

Easter treat: Hot Cross Buns

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Easter is fast approaching and given that I have been completely away from this blog for a couple of months, I decided to use the approaching holiday as an excuse to do some writing.

I’ve made hot cross buns more than once now and I feel pretty confident that anyone can make them successfully just by following the recipe carefully. They don’t take much time (aside from the rising times which can’t be helped) and the house smells deliciously while they bake.

So, why not give them a try instead of buying them from a shop, they can be used as an excuse to get the whole family baking this Easter ūüôā

Ingredients (makes 12 buns):

7 grs. dried yeast.

5 tablespoons lukewarm water

150 ml lukewarm milk

450 grs. strong plain flour

85 grs. caster sugar

1 level teaspoon of salt

2 level teaspoons mixed spice (I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon, half teaspoon ginger and half nutmeg).

60 grs. softened butter

85 grs. currants

30 grs. chopped mixed peel

1 big egg beaten.

To make the crosses:

75 grs. plain flour.

2-3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sunflower oil.

For the glaze:

2 tablespoons each of milk and sugar.

On his book¬†“How to bake”¬†Paul Hollywood suggests a different glaze which also sounds good so I’m sharing: 2 tablespoons apricot jam dissolved on 2 tbsp water. Heat until the jam is dissolved and paint your buns with it once they are out of the oven.

How to:

1.- Place the instant yeast in a small bowl, add the 5 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and the lukewarm milk. Cover and leave till it froths:

DSC052212.- In another bowl mix the remaining flour, the salt and the spices. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles sand.

3.- To the flour mixture add the currants, the peel and the sugar. Then make a well in the middle.

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4.- Into the well add the yeast mixture and the egg and mix to form a dough. Tip into a lightly floured surface or work inside the bowl if it is big enough. At first the mixture will be sticky, but keep working it and it will turn into a pliable and soft dough.

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5.- Your dough has to be soft, so don’t add more flour, rather try to work it carefully for at least 10 minutes till it becomes soft and elastic.

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6.- Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film or a plastic bag and let it rise for at least an hour, or until it doubles in size.

7.- After an hour, re-knead and divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Place, slightly apart, on greased baking sheets and cover. Leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

DSC052308.- After 30 minutes preheat the oven at 190 C, and start to prepare the mixture for the crosses:

Sift the plain flour and add the oil and enough water to create a paste that will hold it’s shape when piped. Spoon into a small piping bag and pipe a cross on top of each bun.

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9.- Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

10.- Mix the sugar and milk and heat. Brush the buns with this mixture as soon as they leave the oven. If your hot cross buns come out of the oven still a bit pale, just brush them with the milk and popped them back into the oven with the glaze on…they will come out beautiful!

And that’s all! Just 10 steps to home-made, scrumptious, hot cross buns!

DSC05157HAPPY EASTER TO EVERYONE!!!

Time to bake Mince Pies!

DSC083152015 has been quite a hectic year and with 2016 fast approaching, I decided to drag at least one recipe from oblivion and re-post it here, this is more as a way to feel that I did, indeed, do something about the blog before the year’s end, that because I’m desperate to write¬†today.

I think the best thing about these mince pies is the pastry, you can use the same mix to make really, really delicious apple pies (I highly recommend them). 
DSC08318I love to keep things traditional during Christmas, at home we eat Pan Dulce (an Argentine cousin of Italian Pannetone), and even though everyone seems to be falling for it, I refuse to buy those chocolate chips pan dulces that are popping everywhere.¬†Chocolate chip? On my ¬†pannetone? I don’t think so! So, yes, I understand the importance of keeping the flavours we grew up with during the holiday season.

But I’m not against a teeny-weeny tweak here and there, you can call this coconut oil pastry a teeny-weeny tweak.

 So, without further ado, Christmas is almost on top of us after all, here is the recipe.

Ingredients (makes 12 pies approx.):

100g coconut oil

300g plain flour

2 egg yolks

50ml cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 jar of mincemeat.

How to:

1.- In a bowl place the flour and the salt. Mix together and then add the coconut oil.

DSC082382.- With your fingers rub the coconut oil into the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.

DSC08240Coconut oil isn’t as pliable as butter, so it is harder to rub it into the flour. The little lumps of oil are tougher¬†than their butter equivalents;¬†but be patient, it can be done.

I haven’t tried using a blender. You can try it though, and if it works, then making these pies will be a breeze.

3.- Make a well in the centre, add the egg yolks, vanilla essence and the water.

DSC082414.- Mix everything by hand until you have a dough that comes off the sides of the bowl. Don’t overwork the dough or it will make a tough pastry.¬†Just mix enough for¬†the wet ingredients to permeate the dry ones and then press everything together to form a ball.

DSC082535.-Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 1 hour, ideally for 2.

6.-¬†After 1-2¬†hours, take the dough out of the fridge. You can then lightly flour a surface ¬†and roll out your dough; or you can spread a rectangle of cling film on your working top, place the dough on it, and then cover loosely with another cling film sheet and roll out the pastry through the cling film; that way, the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling-pin and you avoid using too much flour, which will also make your pastry tough. Roll out to a¬†3mm thickness.

DSC082677.-¬†Cut circles¬†of 4-5 cm diameter, depending on the size you want your mince pies to be. Try not to make them too big that they are difficult to eat, or too small, because they won’t take enough filling.

8.- Spread 1 -2 teaspoons of filling into one of the circles, then paint around the edges with a bit of water or egg white so that the top of the pie will stick to the bottom. Take a second circle,  prick it with a fork and place on top of the filling.

DSC082699.- Use a fork to press the edges together and seal the tarts….
DSC0827110.- Continue with the rest of the pastry.

DSC0827711.- Place in the fridge for 30 mins and then bake or freeze them wrapped in cling film.

12.- To bake them: Preheated your oven at 200 C. Place the pies on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

DSC0830513.- You can prepare a simple glaze with 1/2 cup of icing sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to cover them once they are cold. If you want your icing to be super white, like in the photos, the add 1 teaspoon of egg whites to your icing sugar/lemon mix and whisk everything together until soft and fluffy.

DSC08316Merry Christmas!!

Paula