Friday, 9 March 2012

one a penny two a penny, Hot Cross buns

Easter time is almost upon us. Every year I buy hot cross buns and am always disappointed with them.  Bun to dense or cardboard like, fruit to hard or to soggy.  Someone always hates the fruit in our house, someone always moans about the mixed spice flavour etc.  Well enough!  Mixed spice hater has left home so we didn't need to worry about that one at least ;o)

I had a list of things we wanted,

Soft bread dough but firm enough to be a Hot cross bun
Fruit wasn't exactly loved here so we wanted a different flavour there, decided on dark chocolate and stem ginger
needed to find out what made that slight crust on top of the buns
and importantly a cross that was a cross and not pastry laid on top and cooked.

So first thing first I looked in my books and decided to base first attempt from the fabulous baker brothers recipe.  This made 16 and we didn't need that many so I halved and played around a bit. Me being me made one mistake and instead of halving the egg used a whole one, little extra flour sorted me out though.  So I started with.

340g strong white flour (plus handful if using whole egg)
5 g salt
7g dried yeast
50g white sugar
40g soft butter
7 g mixed spice
100 ml tepid whole milk
75 ml tepid water
1 egg (supposed to be half but worked well with little extra flour)

I put this all in my trusty mixer and left to knead for 10 minutes,  It turned out to be a very soft but not sticky dough.
while dough was kneading I chopped a knob of stem ginger into small lumps and weighed out 50 g of dark chocolate chips. Which I kneaded into dough once ready and fairly evenly mixed in. Back into bowl and covered in clingfilm and left until doubled, which was 40 minutes and a cup of tea with mum.

Then I tipped out onto a board and divided into 8 and formed into roll shapes and put in a greased tin so there was small gap between each one, covered again until doubled. next bit is the crosses.  Leap of faith here but it works. whisk together

50g strong white flour
pinch of salt and sugar
little knob of butter
50 ml water

needs to be smooth and almost like very thick glace icing.  pipe this onto the buns
I had preheated oven to gas mark 6 and they went in until tops and bottoms were golden!!!!!! around 20 minutes i think it was. just before coming out mixed up the bun wash

1 egg cup full boiling water
2 tsp sugar
1 pinch mixed spice

this was generously brushed on buns as they came out of oven, didn't use it all but it made a lot of difference to final bun :o)

and an inside shot, choc wasn't as even as i hoped but still delicious
and look how the still slightly warm chocolate smears with the butter
Definitely more to be made. choc was great and ginger didn't overpower.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

hassleback potatoes

 These are potatoes I remember my Mum cooking for us when we were younger. They are so simple and can be done with any sized potatoes from new to bigger baking potatoes.  I started with preheating the oven at gas mark 7.  Butter the base of a cooking tin and peel some rooster potatoes.  I have done these with all sorts of potatoes and red rooster potatoes were what I had today.
Trick to slicing these almost all the way through is to place a wooden spoon behind the potato you are cutting through and you should cut them in thin slices about thickness of a pound coin I would think. I lost a few ends but no harm done. The wooden spoon stops the knife cutting all the way through. If you do cut one in half then don't fret you just have smaller ones

Melt some butter, I did mine in a mug in microwave, then using a pastry brush brush the butter over and if possible between the slices by easing them open slightly and gently. I usually do this with olive oil but was inspired to use butter from a recipe I saw.  Then season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 45 minutes


After 45 minutes the potatoes are just beginning to brown and are not quite but almost very nearly knife tender. Different sizes of potatoes will obviously take more or less, so keep an eye on them.  I decided to grate some mature cheddar and
put back in the oven for the final 15 minutes.

At this point they were ready to serve up. Those brown cheese bits in the tin were served up to.  crispy shards of crunchy cheese.  Got to be good ;o) So here you have it a family favourite.
A friend on twitter says she is going to give it a go using garlic butter.  Sounds brilliant, will have to try it myself next time I think to.