Tag Archives: Baking

Sweet Easter: Hot Cross Buns

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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.

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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!!!

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Chorizo, spinach and red pepper bread.

2015-06-07 15.48.41I’m pretending it’s Summer here, even though the wind and the dark clouds are saying otherwise. I wish Summer will hurry and just arrive, but I guess seasons, as everything else in nature, only arrive when they are meant to.

So, in the meantime, I’ve been eating and baking with Spanish chorizo and olives, pretending the time for picnics and holidays in the sun are here 🙂

This bread could be a meal in itself, and works great toasted, as a side to a salad or soup. There is almost no kneading involved, and it smells so good once it is in the oven, you won’t believe it!

Ingredients (for half a kilo loaf):

250 g spelt flour

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

150 ml water + 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water to activate the yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt (or up to 1 teaspoon, I use very little salt)

1 tablespoon and a half of olive oil (can be replaced by any other oil)

30 g chorizo, chopped. It has to be a cooked chorizo, not one that requires for you to cook it first, other than that, you can choose almost any one. I used one that was a bit soft but very flavoursome, with some smokiness to it.

A bunch of fresh spinach

1/2 of a red Ramiro pepper, chopped and sautéed for a few minutes. Let it cool down before using.

 How to:

1.- Mix the yeast with  the lukewarm water and let it rest until it froths.

2.- In a large bowl mix together the flour and the salt. Then add the chopped peppers, chorizo and the spinach leaves. If your spinach leaves are very big, simply chop them roughly. Then make a well in the middle. Your mix will look like this:

2015-06-07 11.41.023.- Once the yeast is frothy, add into the centre of the well, together with the oil and the remaining water. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more water. You will find, in general, that spelt doughs require less water and proofing time than regular doughs. They are also quite sticky and never as silky as white flour mixtures.

Spelt flour is a little lower in gluten than wheat flour, and its gluten strands are shorter, therefore kneading too much can break the delicate gluten structure which will result in a tough or flat bread.

So, just use your hands or a wooden spoon to shape the ingredients into a dough and then  knead for a minute, just so that there is no flour visible on the surface of the dough. And that’s it! 🙂

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4.- Leave the dough in a bowl covered with film or a plastic bag to double in size.

5.- When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured surface. Degas and flatten. Then shape into a log and place in a loaf tin.

Keep in mind that spelt breads tend to spread to the sides rather than rise, so a bread tin will help it keep its shape more than a baking tray will, but you can still make this bread if you don’t have a baking tin.

6.- Leave to rise for just 30 minutes, after which it should look nice and plump:

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7.- Place in a preheated oven at 180 C (fan oven) for 45-55 minutes. It will come out golden and with a lovely crust.

2015-06-07 14.46.428.- To make sure it’s fully baked tap the bottom of the bread, if it sounds hollow, it’s ready 🙂

Enjoy!

Paula