Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns are synonymous with Easter, you will find them every where through March and April but if you ask me hot cross buns are something that can be enjoyed all year round. Made from an enriched brioche style dough flavoured with vanilla and orange and filled with dired fruit and spices. Warm from the oven, toasted and smothered with butter or simply enjoyed with a cup of tea with this recipe you will find yourself making them through Easter and well into the winter months. The secret to our hot cross buns is that we use the same mincemeat that fills of mince pies at Christmas, boozy soaked fruit with that nice balance of spice. Each year I always look to make a little extra mincemeat at Christmas that can be kept until Easter perfect for hot cross buns.
500g strong white flour
50g brown sugar
5g / 1 tsp salt
10g fresh yeast or 1 tsp of dried yeast
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp all spice
50g diced butter
200g dried fruit.
(You can use a mix of sultanas, raisins, cranberries and currents as well as some mixed peel marinaded in orange and lemon juice along with some cinnamon and clove works great. Allow to marinade at least overnight)
hot cross paste
40g icing sugar
Makes 12 buns (90g each)
This dough can be made by hand, however if you have a food mixer feel free to use it using the dough hook attachment
Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the mixer. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest and allspice to the flour
Crumble the yeast into the flour and pour the milk along with the egg into the flour. Begin to mis the dough on a slow medium speed. This is quite a soft, supple dough. If it feels a little wet and stinky don't panic, just stay with it and be persistent the dough will come together. Avoid the tempatition to add extra flour. Continue to mix for 3 to 4 mins. As the dough develops slowly add the diced butter into the dough. Increase the speed of the mixer slightly. Continue to mix until all the butter has been incorporated
Add the dried fruit to the dough and gently knead for 1 to 2 minutes to distribute the fruit. We simply want the fruit to be evenly distributed without having it all broken up. Put the dough in a oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for about 90 minutes.
Once the dough has doubled in size turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knock back.
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces approximately 90 g each. Roll each piece of dough round and place on a non-stick baking tray or a tray lined with parchment leaving enough room between to allow each bun to prove and grow without touching . Leave to prove again for 60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/375°F/gas mark 5 then make up the paste for the crosses by mixing together the flour, sugar, and milk in a bowl. The paste needs to be of a piping consistency. Brush each bun with a beaten egg, spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
Bake the buns at 200c for 16 to 18 minutes, until rich golden in colour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
whilst warm brush each bun with a simple sugar glaze to add a wonderful shine and finger licking stickiness to each.
Sugar glaze. 50Ml water, 50g caster sugar. Place into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.
Wholemeal Spelt and treacle bread served with a healthy and hearty beef stew as seen on Saturday Am on TV3
Wholemeal Spelt and black treacle
700g wholemeal spelt flour
15g Fresh yeast (7g or 1 sachet if using dried yeast)
35g black treacle
Mix together the wholemeal spelt flour with the treacle and salt in a bowl. Crumble the yeast into the flour. Form a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water. Bring the ingredients together to form a rough dough. Turn out on to a clean work surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes or until the windowpane effect is achieved. The dough should be smooth and elastic. When working with spelt flour the dough requires slightly less kneading than when using regular wheat flour.
Once the dough has been sufficiently kneaded place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or wrap in cling film and let it prove for 30 mins at room temperature.
After 30 minutes turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and stretch the dough out like a sheet. At this stage we want to incorporate a fold which helps to build strength within the dough. Fold the dough like an envelope. Left over right, then top over bottom. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to prove for a further 60 minutes
Turn out the dough on to a clean kitchen surface and knock back. Knocking back is exactly what it sounds like, you want to knock the air from the dough. Shape the dough into a rough round shape. If making a round loaf, shape the dough to form into a tight ball. Place the shaped dough upside down into the proving basket, seam side facing up or alternatively a bowl, lined with a lightly floured tea towel will work fine (without the cloth, your loaf will stick in the bowl and you won't be able to turn it out). Alternatively, the dough can be shaped and placed into a bread tin. This recipe will produce 2 x 600g loaves. One for yourself and one for a friend. Alternatively, the baked loaf can be frozen. Once the dough has been shaped Leave the dough to prove at room temperature for 50 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 230°C/425°F/Gas 7 and place a baking tray in the bottom of the oven to heat up. This tray will be used to create steam when baking the bread. Turn the dough out of the basket onto a baking tray (a separate baking tray not the one that has been preheated in the oven). Or if using a bread tin dust the surface of the dough with some wholemeal spelt flour before placing into the oven. Place the loaves in the oven. To create a blast of steam throw in some ice cubes or hot water from a kettle onto the preheated baking tray. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a good crust has formed and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Healthily and hearty beef stew with Jerusalem artichoke, rainbow carrots and baby swedes – Serves 4
1 tbsp. of sunflower oil
800g of trimmed and diced beef shin
1 large onion finely diced
2 sticks of celery roughly chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
500ml of chicken stock/beef stock
2 sprigs of Rosemary
2 bay leaves
150g rainbow carrots (regular carrots are fine also)
150g baby swedes, washed and quartered
150g Jerusalem artichokes, washed and quartered
100g of mushrooms
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt and black pepper
Handful of chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 160C
Place onto a high heat a heavy based frying pan and add half the oil. When the pan is very hot add half of the beef along with some salt and pepper and brown well on all sides. Transfer the beef to an over proof casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining beef.
Once all the beef has been browned and placed into the casserole dish Lower the heat on the frying pan and cook the diced onion for approximately 5 minutes until softened. If the pan starts to stick add a dash of stock and continue cooking. To the softened onion add the celery, ginger and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the cooked onion and celery to the beef along with the rosemary, bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Deglaze the frying pan with the chicken stock, bring to a gentle simmer before adding to the beef. Place the lid on the casserole dish and place into the preheated oven for 1 and half hours to cook.
Take the casserole dish from the oven and add the carrots, artichokes, swedes and mushrooms. Mix everything together and return to the oven, lid on and cook for a further hour.
Take the casserole dish from the oven, remove the lid and finish the stew with Dijon mustard and chopped parsley, Check for seasoning. Serve in bowls with a generous chunk of the freshly baked wholemeal spelt and treacle bread