Happy New Year Everyone !
I'd like to wish all of you the very best for 2011.
We've had a fairly quiet time since coming home from spending Christmas in Scotland. I'm still hoping to do (a rather late) blog post about some of that.
My husband and I spent most of the last day of the year doing a major clearout of the house and took down the baby stair gates. It's made a massive difference to the space in our house and Oliver really is not interested in wandering upstairs at all.... He knows all his toys live in our lounge !
Oliver having a rare, quiet "chill" moment !
Shamefully, I was in bed and asleep well before the midnight bells. I wasn't even up to open the door to "let the old year out and the new year in" as is pretty much our tradition.
We collected my in-laws the following day who came to stay overnight and spend some time with us.
I have absolutely no idea why, but I really had a notion of making hot cross buns... which I've never made before. It DID feel rather odd to make them totally out of season. Originally, I thought I'd just glaze them as spiced buns without the crosses.... but added the crossed just before putting them in the oven as they really need crosses as a final touch. Don't you think ?
Oliver was having a marvellous time with all his new toys as you can see. It was really cosy infront of our cast iron wood burning and multi fuel stove (an older style Abbey model from http://www.naturalheating.co.uk/) and the heat from the fire was super for making the hot cross buns rise. If you look carefully - they can be seen balanced on top of the nursery guard !
Hot Cross Buns - makes 8 > 10
(adapted from River Cottage Handbook no.3)
250g strong bread flour
250g plain flour
259g warm milk
7g sachet of instant yeast (same stuff for bread makers)
50g caster sugar
100g raisins or sultanas
2 tsp of mixed spice
I added all the ingredients together to my Kitchenaid mixer apart from the sultanas and mixed on a low speed to combine. I then added the sultanas and let it mix until dough was smooth and silky (about 10 > 15 mins)
Finsh kneading by hand and leave dough to rise for approx 1 hour in a covered bowl in a warm place. I leave mine in the Kitchenaid mixer bowl, covered with cling film. When the stove is not on, I like to put it in the halogen oven / tabletop cooker to prove (in the kitchenaid bowl) with the tempreature setting set a little more than half way between off and THAW.
After first prove, knock dough back (just as you do normal bread dough), divide into balls and leave to rise. Mine were on top of a http://www.siliconemoulds.com/pale-pink-silicone-baking-sheet-tray-liner-p-114.html on a rather tatty old baking tray and infront of the fire as you can see.
The second prove does not take too long - generally about 20 > 30 mins.
If you want crosses on your buns - do this after the second prove judst before you pop them into the oven
Make a mix with 50g of plain flour and 50ml of water. Mix until smooth. Pour into a sandwich bag and twist the end to make it like a cone shape or piping bag. Snip a tiny bit of the end and pipe on your crosses.
Actually - you can have a bit of fun with this. I did two like spiders webs that looked amazing baked - yet forgot to photograph them !
I baked these at 180deg C fan oven for 18minutes.
On removing from the oven, you would typically glaze with melted apricot jam whilst hot. However, I didn't have any - so glazed with marmalade instead which worked wonderfully and gave a bitter orangey tang to the buns. The ones above are hot and just glazed. They were lovely still warm - but even better toasted the next day.
I dare say you might not want to make Hot Cross Buns in January - but it's worth having a go sometime as home made ones not only look awesome but taste sooooo good !
Sarah-Jane Nash - http://www.siliconemoulds.com/ - 4th of January 2011