Hot Cross Buns, It must be Spring!

hot cross buns

I love this particular Hot Cross Bun recipe. It is a little more complex than others that I have seen, with a few extra steps, but it is hard to argue with the results! Like most other formulas out there, this one uses the straight dough method for the rolls themselves, and similar instructions for combining the batch of cross dough, but it is the spiced bun glaze that really sets this recipe apart from the pack.

This recipe is from a culinary cookbook, I have mentioned in the past that culinary texts are written differently than standard cookbooks or recipes in general. I have adapted this and made a few changes but the format will be by weight and volume for the most part.  One additional step done here is to condition the dried fruit. This step requires a 2 hour, minimum rest, so plan ahead! However, after that step the recipe moves along smoothly since it is a straight dough method, everything goes in together and combined quickly.

The flour, butter, sugar, yeast, milk powder, salt, vanilla paste, eggs and spices are combined first then the temperature controlled water is added. Once the dough has pulled together and is soft and pliable the dried fruits are added.

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The dough is allowed to rise, covered on the bench until doubled in size (about 30 minutes)

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It is then degassed and folded into thirds, allowed to rest again for 15 minutes. This lets the dough relax and is easier to portion and shape. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 oz portions to be rounded and panned 5 rows by 6 rows for a total of 30, rather large, buns!

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yes, I do weigh them-this one was a little big and had to have a pinch removed!

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The rolls are covered and allowed to proof until doubled which takes about an hour

While the rolls proofed I made the cross dough which is applied right before they go in the oven. The cross dough is pastry flour, butter and milk which is combined and mixed until smooth.

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The cross dough was put into a disposable pastry bag that had been fitted with a plain tip.

This was piped onto the individual rolls to form the cross pattern.

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The pan went into a 375°F preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the desired color was achieved. This particular cross dough is not sweet. As I said before it is just flour, butter and milk. Many other recipes use cream cheese or other flavored icing and apply it at the end of the baking process. This recipe uses a lemon, ginger simple syrup to give the rolls flavor and shine.

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This bun glaze is water, sugar, ground ginger, lemon juice, lemon zest and cream of tartar. It should be made ahead of time and chilled before applying to the hot rolls.

As soon as the rolls come out of the oven the glaze is generously applied.

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They are shiny, sweet, sticky, fruity and delicious! The extra steps are worth it!

 

 

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

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When I saw this recipe for homemade Reese’s Peanut butter eggs, I knew I had to try it. Our family, like most others, love these things, and I am a huge fan of The Recipe Critic. I find her recipes to be easy and great tasting. But I got to thinking about those decorated eggs I would get in my Easter basket as a kid.

Like this one from See’s Candies

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My frugal grandmother would always buy these after Easter when they were half price and gave them to my sister and I a year later as our “special treat”. Unfortunately, my memory of them, after 12 long months in grandma’s closet, was that they were not delicious, pretty, but not yummy. I decided to try to make the decorated exterior with the delicious peanut butter chocolate egg combo that we all love.

The peanut butter mixture comes together fast, it is only 4 ingredients: creamy peanut butter, powdered sugar, melted butter and a little milk.  I rolled it out just like you would a sugar cookie dough. I did not have an egg shaped cutter so I traced around a large egg to make a pattern. I actually made two templates, one larger and one a little smaller. The 24 “eggs” were placed onto a cookie sheet and went into the refrigerator. The directions state to freeze for an hour before coating with chocolate but I was going rock climbing for a few hours so I opted for the fridge.

The chocolate mix was milk chocolate chips and shortening.

 

 

The chocolate coating was perfect, great consistency and easily covered the cold peanut butter eggs. I did have some extra chocolate that I did not want to waste so I stole my son’s Oreo cookies that he keeps hidden in his room -he thinks I don’t know about his junk food stash-and dipped a dozen in the chocolate.

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These were delicious! And so were the eggs, they tasted exactly like the Reese’s version!

The next step was to make Antonia74’s Royal Icing Recipe, which I used before when I made Christmas Cookies. I only prepared a half recipe which was plenty for these two dozen eggs.

I colored a portion each green, pink, yellow, blue and left some the original white. I bagged up each color and used a variety of tips for lines, leaves, grass, and flowers. I had pastel candies for decorations. It has been a while since I used my tips so it was fun to get into the decorating!

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You do not need to go this extra step to enjoy the recipe, these things are delicious without the decor! They are easy to make and store-really, everyone will love these!

 

ENJOY!

 

Holiday Biscotti

December is here and, at our house that means it is time to make this holiday biscotti recipe. I have been making these for several years now and they are one of the most requested treats from our friends and family. The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis, and to be honest, I tend to refrain from making her recipes as I find them to be rather one note. She tends to use the same ingredients in the majority of her recipes, which limits the flavor profile in her cuisine. That being said, this is one of the most versatile biscotti recipes that I have found to date. It is easily modified and can be used with just about any dried fruit and nut combination you find tasty. If you are someone who does not like hard, dry biscotti then you will appreciate these cookies. They are softer than traditional store bought, and keep for quite awhile in an airtight container.

Equipment that I Recommend

 

I love the website, Breadtopia. If you are an artisan bread baker then you probably already know all about them, but if not, do check them out. I get all of my instant yeast, parchment paper and unique flour blends from their website. They have an excellent collection of recipes with tutorials and videos for just about any type of bead you are interested in baking. I will be highlighting several of their products in the future when I do some artisan bread recipes. Today I am featuring their dough scraper and biscotti pan. I have two of these plastic, flexile scrapers, which are wonderful for extracting dough and soft batters out of mixing bowls. They hold up great in the dishwasher and I am hoping to get a couple more for Christmas! The biscotti pan is something that I didn’t even know I needed! It was part of a gift set from my husband last year and, at that time; I didn’t realize it was included in the package. It makes the forming of the biscotti, for the first bake off, so much easier than molding the dough by hand. If you have the option, and like to make biscotti, then consider the investment. You certainly do not need either of these to make the recipe successfully; they just make your life a little easier.

On to the Cookies

I followed the recipe as written, with one exception. I used orange zest instead of lemon. I have used lemon in the past and it is fine, but I do like orange and cranberries together a little more than the lemon. Whatever you have on hand will work. I also do not measure zest, life is too short for that! I just zest the whole fruit and have never had a problem.

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And like many others, I make my own vanilla sugar by adding used vanilla pods to a canister of sugar. I use it for anything that I am baking that calls for some extra sweetness.

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One place where you can get a bit bogged down is chopping the pistachios. I find that if I place 1 cup of whole pistachios into a plastic sandwich bag and gently use a rolling pin to crush them, it will equal (roughly) ¾ cup chopped nuts.

I put the complete batter into my biscotti pan and baked them off as recommended.

The biscotti need to cool for, at least, 30 minutes. In the past, I have stopped at this point and finished baking them off the next day, and they still came out great. Once they have cooled you need to cut them for the second bake off. I am not someone who can start at one end and cut even sizes all the way to the other end. I use a serrated knife and start by cutting the log into two equal pieces. Then cut those into quarters and so on, until there are 16 equal(ish) cookies. These are then baked until brown.

The recipe calls for dipping half the biscotti into melted white chocolate, but I prefer to spread one side (usually the not so pretty side) with the chocolate. I find that one 4oz. bar will cover all 16 with a thin layer. If you want a thicker coating then you may want to follow the recipe recommendation of 12oz. I like to control the amount of chocolate and then I sprinkle with white sanding sugar for a little sparkle. I am not a big fan of the colored sprinkles but I would eat them either way.

Now you just need a good cup of coffee! I hope you try these, I think you will enjoy them.