Category Archives: Baking and kneading

Pumpkin Scones

DSC07503

I love Fall! The colours, the air, the food… the fact that I can wear my boots and hats again… I complain for the first couple of days “Boohoo, the Summer is gone” but then the magic of Autumn kicks in and I forget all about the beach and picnics at the park.

This October however, the weather hasn’t been great. We seem to live under a constant grey cloud that every once in a while drips all over the place. I mean, look at this photo of Autumn taken 3 years ago, in my garden:

My garden today...
My garden today…

That is what I think about when I think of Autumn: all those lovely colours, and the sunlight that falls golden on the trees and the grass. This year, we seem to be living in Victorian London: a grey, wet, dark place where all colours go to die… dramatic, me? Never! ūüėČ

Enough of complaining about the weather! while waiting for bluer skies I decided to go back to baking. I had a tin of pumpkin pure which had been languishing at the back of my cupboard for 3 weeks now, so I decided to put it to a good use, before Autumn was over.

I decided to make these scones which are soft, spicy and have a lovely orange colour. They are a bit flatter than regular ones, and the dough is a bit more wet than the usual scone dough (because of the pumpkin pure), that means it is stickier and needs gentle handling, but they are worth the bit of extra effort.

Ingredients (8 scones):

120 grs plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

30 grs butter

pinch of salt

80 grs pumpkin pure

50 ml milk (or buttermilk or yoghurt)

1/2 cup maple syrup (if you prefer you can replace it with 20 grs sugar, and add a bit more milk, almost 80ml).

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

a pinch nutmeg

Half a cup chopped walnuts

For the glaze:

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice.

DSC07506How to:

Note: A key to good scones is to make sure that your oven is preheated at 220 C, if you place scones in a cold oven they won’t¬†rise, and they’ll turn out tough and flat.

1.- In a bowl mix the flour, salt and baking powder (and the sugar, if you are using instead of maple syrup). Add the butter to the flour and rub together until you obtain something that resembles a grainy, sort of sandy mixture:

DSC074642.- Then add the walnuts to the mixture of flour.

3.- In another bowl mix the maple syrup (if using), pumpkin pure, milk and spices.

DSC074664.- Use a cornet to help yourself form a dough. It will be sticky, if it is too wet, add some more flour, but try to keep the dough on the wet side of things, that will make softer scones.

5.- Tilt the dough into a floured surface and roll out to 2 cm. thick:

DSC074726.- Use a 5 cm plain, round pastry cutter to stamp out as many rounds as possible and lay them in a baking tray covered with baking parchment:

DSC074737.- Knead the trimmings again and cut out more rounds.

8.- Place in the oven for 20 minutes. If they are not ready after 20 minutes, bring the oven down to 160 C (to avoid burning) and cook for further 10 minutes.

9.- Let them cool. Meanwhile prepare the glaze by mixing the icing sugar with the orange juice. Pour the glaze over the scones and let it dry.

Hope you like them! Happy Autumn!

DSC07502

Sweet Easter: Hot Cross Buns

DSC05154

Yesterday I posted an Argentine Easter cake, but of course I couldn’t miss the chance to post about Hot Cross Buns, which are already populating bakeries and supermarkets all over London.

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 step by step. They don’t take much time (aside from the rising times which can’t be helped) and the house smells deliciously while they bake. Also the home-made version is less doughy that the ones you get at the supermarket. If you have a Gail’s bakery near you and have tried their hot cross buns, this recipe makes buns that are just like those (or even a bit better).

Ps. If you like, you can add orange and lemon zest to make them taste extra fruity.

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.

DSC05222

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.

DSC05225

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.

DSC05228

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.

DSC05241

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!!!