Sunday, 24 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns

I am a very festive person. Especially when it comes to food. 

If you remember at Christmas time, I dazzled you all with Fruit Mince Pies, Sherry Balls, my Christmas Cassata and how could I forget my Gingerbread House. I also am fond of making a birthday cake or two as I believe it is not a birthday without one. 

So naturally, with easter coming up since week it was only fitting I get into the holiday spirit with these hot cross buns. 

This is another one of my Mum's recipes and it wouldn't be easter unless I didn't keep up the tradition. When I was growing up, Mum would always be up bright early making these buns in time for either breakfast, for those other early risers, or morning tea. 

As I was usually up with her, I would sit on the bench, watch and wait until it was time to glaze the steaming hot buns with the sugar syrup as it was always my job to do so. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these buns!! Spicy, soft, fluffy and the lingering smell of baking bread through the house. And let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing better than a freshly baked bun, with lashings of butter slowly melting over the top.... except maybe when served with a cup of tea as well. 

5 cups Plain Flour
5 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise dry Yeast
1/3 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Mixed Spice
1 cup warm Milk
3/4 cup warm Water
90g Butter, melted
1 cup Currants
1/2 cup Self-raising Flour
2 teaspoon Castor Sugar
1/3 cup Water
Sugar Glaze
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup White Sugar

To make the buns...
Pre heat the oven to 190-200°C.

Combine yeast, 2 cups of flour, sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add milk, water and butter and stir well for 3 minutes. Add the currants and most of the rest of the flour and mix until a soft dough forms. (You may not need the entire 5 cups of flour). 

Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth. 

Divided and roll into 16 balls. Place in 2 round 20cm cake tins that have been greased with butter. Allow to rise in a warm area until they have almost tripled in size. Once risen, pipe crosses over the top and bake for 20 minutes. 

Turn out onto a wire rack and glaze with sugar syrup while still warm. 

To make the crosses...
Simply mix all ingredients together. 

To make the Sugar Syrup...
Place water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove once all the sugar has dissolved. 

This is what the dough may look like BEFORE kneading...

...5 minutes later you should get a nice round, smooth ball of dough. 

Here are the buns before they have risen...

...and after. They should take up most, if not all, of the cake tin.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


I love honey!

Probably nearly as much as Winnie the Pooh...

...actually probably more. Give it to me on toast, porridge, even in my tea and I'm happy. In fact, honeycomb just gives me another excuse to eat honey without being perceived as a crazy person for sometimes eating it straight out of the jar. 

I also love the process to which this honeycomb is made. I love how the sticky, sugary goo transforms into a frothy mass once you add the bicarb soda (I could've nearly eaten it at this stage but I resisted...this time). 

Crushed over ice-cream, added to muffins or simply eaten as it is, this honeycomb is sure to be hit for all you honey lovers out there. Coat it in chocolate and it can be made part of your gift giving this Easter. 

2 cups White Sugar
1/3 cup Honey
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
120g Butter
1 Tablespoon Bicarb Soda

To make the Honeycomb...
Place the sugar, honey, maple syrup and butter into a large saucepan. Over medium heat, stir with a metal spoon until the sugar as dissolved. 

Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and simmer or 7-8 minutes or until the mixture reaches 150°C. Remove the mixture from the heat and remove candy thermometer. Add the bicarb soda and mix until golden and foamy. 

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 20cm x 30cm tin lined with baking paper. Set aside for 30 minutes or until set. Remove from the tin and break into chunky pieces. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Blueberry and Lemon Syrup Cake

What a beautiful day!!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping...

...well I imagine they are considering my Ipod is filling my ears with the sweet, sweet sound of Ewan McGregor and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Could my legs get anymore jelly as I am swooned by his amazing voice. I think they should have cast me instead of Nicole Kidman or, better still, can I just marry him? 

'He is already married' I hear you say. Ahh, ye have little faith.............oh wait, I have a boyfriend, don't I? Oh, hmmm, a girl can only dream. 

Oh my! That got a bit heated, didn't it? 

I should probably get back to the subject at hand and that is this very delicious Blueberry and Lemon Syrup Cake. 

When I was still living at home, I used to make this cake (minus the blueberries) and no matter how well I greased the cake pan, it would always stick. And I mean ALWAYS! My Mum would do exactly the same thing and for whatever reason it would work for her and not me. However, this cake is so yummy I kept baking it anyway.

Lemon and blueberry is just one of those pairings that just works so perfectly. And as I was pondering my next post for you guys, I came up with the idea of adding blueberries to this already fantastic Lemon Syrup cake. Not only do I think it works, but I think it is even better than the original...not to mention very pretty. Combined with a tangy syrup, dust with icing sugar for a tea party or serve with cream for a decadent dessert. 

250g Butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon grated Lemon Rind
1 cup White Sugar
3 eggs
2 cups Self-raising Flour
1 cup Buttermilk
1 1/2 cups Frozen Blueberries 
Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup Lemon Juice
3/4 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Water
To make the Cake...
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line either 2 loaf tins or a 23cm square cake tin. 

In an electric mixer, cream together the butter, lemon rind and sugar until pale in colour. Beat in the eggs one and a time, beating well with each addition. Add in the flour and buttermilk and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries, ensuring you don't over mix otherwise you'll end up with a blue mixture 

Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes for the loaf tins and approximately 60 minutes for the cake tin. Once cooked, cool slightly for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Drizzle the warm cake with warm lemon syrup. I recommend placing the wire rack over a tray to catch the excess syrup that runs off. Dust with icing sugar and serve

To make the Syrup...
Place all ingredients into a small saucepan. Without stirring, bring syrup to the boil. 

Here is where I have placed the cake rack over a tray before drizzling the syrup over the cake. OR alternatively you could use an old newspaper and simply throw away when you've finished. But believe me, whatever you use, it will definitely help with keeping the mess to a minimum.