Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rainy Day Hot Cross Buns

Ever since I can remember it rains at Easter time. When I was much younger, before I had my own children, my friends and I would often go camping over the Easter long weekend. It would always rain. Camping in the rain is NOT fun!
Last year mr G and I took a chance and went camping at The Basin on Pittwater for four nights, over the Easter break. We even arrived there in our little boat, loaded ridiculously full with stuff, for a happy camping weekend. It was an idyllic spot, apart from there being no hot shower. It didn't rain that Easter.
This Easter it is raining again, we are at home, indoors and cosy. I hope it is not raining on too many people's Easter camping adventures. More importantly, I hope it is raining in the Central West of NSW and other parts of our country, where it has been painfully dry. Those lovely people would be so happy and relieved to see some soaking rain grace their farms.

It is very comforting when it rains, especially if you are fortunate enough to be snug and warm inside. Yesterday I spent a good part of the day on the lounge, just lounging. I was watching a classic Doris Day movie, in between editing recipes on my laptop. Meanwhile I had a piece of pork neck, slow braising in the oven all day long. Today it is raining again. I did have some outside jobs planned in the garden. I was ready to go and watch the adventurer, play his first soccer game of the season. However, the rain put a stop to all those plans. 
So, instead I have been indoors cooking. Cooking things that make you warm, trying things I have never cooked before.
Poaching quinces that I bought home from the countryside on Thursday and making my first attempt at baking Hot Cross Buns (recipe below). The whole house smells so fragrant, the kitchen is a delightful combination of warmth and mess and the rain doesn't seem to be relenting. So wherever you are this long weekend and whatever Easter means to you, I hope it'll be happy.

Hot Cross Buns

My Easter buns were filled with spice, dried fruit and for something different a little rosemary from my neighbours' garden. They were served deliciously warm, straight from the oven, smothered with lots of butter. 

what you need
4 1/2 cups unbleached plain flour or spelt flour
2 sachets 7g dried yeast
1/4 cup rapadura sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sultanas
50g butter, melted
300ml full cream milk or yoghurt
2 eggs
flour paste:
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp rapadura sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp water
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp maple syrup

what you do
1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add butter, milk/yoghurt and eggs. Mix until combined to form a soft dough.
2. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until dough is soft and smooth. 
3. Place dough in a oiled bowl, covered with a clean tea towel, put in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured surface and knead for 30 seconds. Divide dough into 12 portions (weighing approx 100g each). Roll each portion into a ball and place on the tray about 1cm apart. Cover with a tea towel for 15 - 30 minutes until doubled in size and buns are now touching each other.
5. Preheat oven to 210 deg C (190 deg C fan forced). Mix the flour paste ingredients to a wet paste and place the mix in a piping bag with a fine nozzle or a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Pipe mix into the shape of a cross, onto each bun. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
6. Place water and maple syrup into a small saucepan, bring to the boil for 5 minutes to form a glaze. Brush glaze over the hot buns as soon as they come out of the oven. Serve the hot cross buns warm with lots of butter. Best eaten on the lounge!

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