Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hot cross buns (a)


I love easter. Easter to me has never been about chocolate. as a child, we never received easter eggs. instead, easter to me is time spent with cross buns for breakfast on good fridays. going to church at 3pm. eating fish and potatoes and salad for dinner on friday night. a normal saturday usually involving house cleaning, and then on sunday, a celebratory mass and breakfast with friends and family.
one of the greatest things about easter is hot cross buns. i LOVE hot cross buns. straight out of the oven, the rasins hot enough to burn your tongue, the spicy sweet bread, the chunks of melting butter and the shortcut pastry crosses reminding us of why we celebrate.

so, i decided that i would make some hot cross buns this year. it took me about 3 hours...mostly because of the shortcut pastry to make the crosses. there is an easier way to do it, and i am going to write it the easy way. also, it took ages because i made two batches. but it was TOTALLY worth it :D

Hot Cross Buns

1/2 c boiling water
1 c milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbspn dried yeast
2 c flour
100g butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tspn salt
1 1/2 tbsp mixed spice
1 tspn grated nutmeg
1 tspn vanilla
1-1 1/2 c mixed fruit
2-3 c flour

1/2 c flour (about)
1/4 c water (about)

1 egg white

Measure milk, water and sugar into a large bowl and warm (or cool) to body temperature. sprinkle yeast granules overtop and stir to dissolve. Mix in the first measure of flour and cover bowl with plastic bag. leave mix to rise in warm/sunny spot until risen to three times the size.
In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. beat in egg, spices, salt and mix in fruit.

Add the creamed mix to the dough base and mix. add 2 cups of the second lot of flour and mix well (add flour in 1/2 c increments and use your hands to mix at the end) keep adding flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl/hands. turn dough onto bench and knead (remember: fold and push) until it has a satin sheen and springs back when poked.
Place baking paper on a shallow tray. Split dough into 4 pieces, and then each piece into 7-8. roll into a round ball (about golf ball size) and place on the tray, leaving enough room to rise. once tray is full, cover with plastic bag and leave in sunny/warm spot to rise while you make the mix for crosses. Preheat oven to 240 degrees.
for the crosses, place 1/2 c flour in a bowl. add water (a little at a time) to make a paste - should be a runny consistency, but thickish. place mix into a piping bag (see tips if you dont have one) and then pipe ontop of the hot cross buns.

Lightly beat egg white and use a pastry brush to bush the top of the buns with it to give them a glossy finish.
Place buns in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes - until lightly browned
Eat hot with big slabs of butter

if you want to make shortcut pastry crosses (alot harder) rub 60g of butter with 1 c of flour. add about 1/4 c water to make a dough. roll out into long skinny strips (like making playdough worms when you were little). cut into strips about 3cm long and place ontop of buns in cross shapes.
if you dont have a piping bag, use a ziplock bag instead. put the mixture into one corner of the ziplock bag. cut off the corner of the bag to make a small hole and pipe the mix through the hole.
freeze hot cross buns once cool if you arent gonna eat them straight away - otherwise they will go stale!

Monday, March 29, 2010

walnut and cinnamon scrolls (a)

when i was little and we lived in NZ and in the morning it was really cold we would rug up and go to church and when we got home, we would be placed infront of the TV and mum would pull yeast buns (cinnamon scrolls) out of the freezer and put them in the oven. soon, the whole house would have this amazing yeast and cinnamon smell wafting through it. we would then sit down to breakfast, and i would slowly unwrap the scroll, trying to make it last as long as possible.

i decided the other day that i would make some yeast buns. unfortunately i didnt have my mums recipe, but i just used a basic cinnamon scroll recipe and modified the inside a bit. i was really worried about making them, because i thought it would be a long, lengthy and difficult process. its not. they are really really easy...even my housemate amanda (who has never really baked before) made her own batch!!! - i put lots of photos in to help explain :)

Walnut and cinnamon scrolls

2 tspns yeast (dry)
1 c warm milk
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter melted
1 tspn salt
2 eggs
4 c flour (plus about 1/2 c)
1/4 c butter melted
1/2 c brown sugar
3 tspn cinnamon
1 c walnuts or pecans

Dissolve yeast in warm milk (i put it in the microwave for 1 min). Add sugar, stir well. add butter and stir well. add salt. stir. add eggs one at a time, combine well between. add flour (about 1/2 c at a time) after about 3 1/2 cups you will probably have to use your hands. The best way is to grab a handful and squish it (like play dough) through your fingers. keep adding the rest of the flour, you might need to add an extra 1/2 c.

when the dough is sticky to touch (but not sticking to your hands any more) put it on the bench and knead it. to knead, fold the dough over and press down. knead for about 5 minutes.

place the dough back in the bowl. cover with a plastic bag and place in a warm spot (somewhere sunny outside) until the dough has doubled in size (1-1/2 hrs)

Once the dough is ready, turn oven to 240 degrees. line a deep-ish baking tray with baking paper. pull dough out of the bowl, and roll out in a rectangle shape on a floured bench until its about 1.5-2 cm thick. mix cinnamon and brown sugar. use a pastry brush to spread the butter over the dough. sprinkle cinnamon mix evenly over butter. loosely crush walnuts and sprinkle evenly over the dough. tightly roll dough and slice into about 4cm slices.

Place snugly in the baking tray. Brush with a little leftover butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. leave to rise for about 5 minutes. bake in over for 15-20 minutes. cool on baking tray or eat warm straight away!!!! YUUUMMM

once completely cooled, place spare scrolls in a ziplock plastic bag and store in freezer. just defrost and reheat in oven for a yummy sunday breakfast!
use lemon, vanilla or orange essence in the dough (about 2 tspns) for a little bit of flavour :)
again, you'll notice the rice in the tin...the tin was a bit too big, so we used rice to make it a little smaller :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

double choc chip muffins (super easy)

There is a common theme that runs in my family between my two (younger) brothers and I.

who is the golden child??

being the oldest, the one living out from home, studying and supporting myself, it was easy for me to gain golden child status. however, after finishing my degree and successfully failing at finding a professional job and contemplating the move back home (arggghhh) the title was passed onto a brother. this title cycled between them...depending on who had called dad that day or done something smart/clever/commendable (such as taking the washing off without being asked). those really hard jobs.
HOWEVER i was determined to obtain my title again...and the only way i knew how, was with food. my mum is a brilliant cook (which lead to my obsessions) and always provided my brothers, dad and i with a delicious home baked treat in our lunch boxes. knowing that while they were living in an apartment and searching for a house there would be no time or utensils for baking, i decided to take matters into my own hands and make my really really easy (in)famous double choc chip muffins.
therefore, after a hard day slogging it at my causal job, i whipped up a batch of muffins and took them to my parents place. needless to say, i was immediately announced 'daughter of the year' and regained my official title.

so, to all you brothers and sisters out there...if you are looking to achieve golden child status, i suggest you grab the mixing bowl and raid the pantry and provide some baked goodness to sweeten the deal

Double choc chip muffins (makes 12)

1 1/2 c flour
3 tspn baking powder
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 c white choc chip bits
1/2 c dark choc chip bits
1 c milk
1 egg
90g butter melted
1 tspn vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180 and prepare muffin tin. Mix dry ingredients (first 6 ingredients). Combine egg, milk and butter. Stir into flour mixture. Place in oven for 20-25 minutes. easy is that?

For crazy decadent muffins, use 3 tbspns of cocoa instead of vanilla essence and make chocolate double choc chip muffins!
Melt some chocolate and drizzle it over the top and serve warm with icecream for an amazing dessert
Muffins can be stored in the freezer for about 3 months...if you wrap them in gladwrap in the morning they will be defrosted by snack time :)

oh and btw...i am now reverted back to the golden child ;) HA

Thursday, March 4, 2010

(beating domino's) pizza (a)

i got a flyer in the mail today.

'domino's pizza good choice range. only 389 calories'

this gets me on my soapbox.
  • 389 calories eh. yeah did you know 389 calories is 1633.8kJ. oh yeah. sounds worse now doesnt it? EH??
  • the pizza only serves one person. so its not a magic pizza, its JUST A SMALLER SERVING SIZE. well of COURSE its going to be less energy
  • it costs $6.95 for your dinner. and thats when you pick it up
  • it takes 15-30 minutes before you get dinner.
  • and finally, the statement: 'dietitians were sceptical'
and so, i decided to prove domino's wrong, and make my own under $6.95 less than 15 minutes and 389 calorie pizza. that KICKED BUTT on taste.

and here it is:

(beating domino's) pizza

2 pieces wholemeal lavash bread
2 tbspns tomato paste
three handfulls melted cheese
3 mushrooms sliced
1/3 of a capsicum sliced
a chunk of pumpkin (about 1/8)
2 pre-cooked satay chicken kebabs

preheat oven to 200 degrees. line a baking tray with baking paper. place one of the lavash breads on the paper. spread tomato paste evenly over bread. distribute two handfuls of cheese over paste. place other lavash bread ontop of the cheese. spread other handfull of cheese over lavash bread. Slice pumpkin thinly and place on plate in microwave for 2 minutes. meanwhile, slice mushrooms, capsicum and chicken. lie pumpkin over the cheese, then mushrooms, then capsicum and finally the chicken. Place in the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

now, this took me 15 minutes to make. it fed two people, and by my calculations, comes to a total calorie content of 372 (calculated using calorie king), and the cost? its hard, coz i brought the paste and lavash (which i will use again) but around $7 - and it fed two, so really...$3.5 each.


i had leftover chicken satay to add to the pizza, but you can use shaved chicken (from the deli) or leftover cooked chicken.
alternatively, go vego, and add tomato or a sprinkling of feta (note this will change the kJ content)
you can basically add anything to a pizza...but try
salami, ham, capsicum and mushroom
spinach, pumpkin, feta, kalamata olives
zucchini, lamb, kalamata olives
pesto (instead of tomato paste), mushrooms and parmesan
chicken, pumpkin, capsicum and cashew
chilli tomato paste (add 1/2 tspn chilli), salami and mushroom