Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One a penny, two a penny....

This year to my despair I saw my first buns in stores back on December 27th, the first trading day after Christmas!!!!! Don’t be mistaken I love a hot cross bun, hot from the oven ”a la natural” or toasted with lashings of butter. However, Hot Cross buns have become for me a symbol of retail greed.

Placing Hot Cross Buns and chocolate eggs on the shelves in December (even in January & February) takes the unique & special feeling out of the celebration. Easter, like Christmas has all ready had its religious significance diminished for some of us even removed, for me the tradition is more about spending time with family. How many of us actually know someone observing lent? Now, not only are we not observing the many of the tradtions we can indulge in those that we do for three month before hand! What to we have to look forward to?

Innovation can be a wonderful thing & I have sung the praises of industry innovators in a previous blog. However, like cover versions of hit songs I believe the innovation has to at least equal too if not surpassed by the original to be worthy. The recent trend of chocolate hot cross buns has managed to take hold despite been far from a worthy cover version of the original.

I love a light yeasty bun, which is generously spiced and packed with fruit (peel optional) – this is the style I grew up with. There is no right or wrong here just a preference- many people like a heavy (almost bready dough) to support lots of fruit and spice; it is a matter of taste.

Do you like the chocolate buns? Do you buy them in January?
Here is the recipe for the Easter buns which make my heart sing... as long as you don’t break it out in January!


Ingredients – makes 1.5kg of dough (approx 30 x 55g buns)

Use of mixer with a dough hook highly recommended due to the amount of required kneading

Zest of ½ a lemon
Zest of ½ an orange
760g strong bake flour
125g sugar
11g milk powder
11g salt
11g malt powder
20g bread improver
70g butter
425ml water
75g yeast (fresh)

320g sultanas
95g currants
74ml orange juice

Spice for Dough
 30g mixed dutch spice

350ml milk
20ml oil
40g melted butter
20g sugar
200g plain flour
100g self raising flour
Pinch salt

15g gelatine soaked in 250ml of water
Bring to the boil.....

500ml water
170g sugar
Juice & Zest of a lemon
Juice & Zest of an orange
8 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
Add the gelatine & water it is soaking in to the boiled mixture, return to the boil and it is ready to use.

Soak Sultana’s & Currants in the orange juice over night.

Take the temperature of the flour and note it down.
Combine all the ingredients (except the yeast, water, fruit & spice)

Dissolve the yeast in the water-

The temperature of the water should be 60°C MINUS the temperature of the flour (so if the flour is 24°C then the water should be 36°C) If it is too hot you will kill the yeast.
And add to the other ingredients and mix until the dough is “clear”- meaning it doesn’t stick to the dough hook, sides or bottom of the bowl

Add the fruit and carefully incorporate into the dough. When the fruit has been incorporated you can finally add the spice-

Do not mix very much once the spice is in as it will kill the yeast
Do not be tempted to add spice at the start as it will kill the yeast
Leave the dough to rest covered and at room temperature (not warm & not cool) until it stars to rise (approx 30-40mins)

Cut in to 55g size pieces (or to the size you want) and roll into shape, place in straight lines (makes piping the crosses much easier) on baking trays

Leave to stand in a warm place until they are at least double their size, then pipe crosses on top using a piping bag.

Bake in a hot (210°C - 220°C) oven until cooked – approx 20-25minutes

Remove from oven and brush with spiced wash


Thursday, March 11, 2010


Floods at work 6th March 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quince and Ricotta Tart
Quince season is nearly here, so here is a recipe for our most popular quince product, Quince & Ricotta Tart- please don’t call it cheesecake (I have issues!)

Pastry Case
170g butter
85g caster sugar
50g (1) egg
260g flour
Lightly cream butter & Sugar
Add Egg & mix until combined
Add Flour & mix into paste, until it comes clean off the bowl – be careful not to over mix.
Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30mins (or overnight)
Lightly flour workbench & roll out into a sheet approx 5mm thick & big enough to cover an 18cm diameter tin –fluted sides & loose bottom.
Grease the tin
Line tin with the pastry being careful not to stretch (it will tear or shrink back if stretched).
Return to fridge for 30 min (or longer if required)
Pre-heat oven to 150°C.
Line top of tart with foil or baking paper & fill with pastry weights (dried rice or beans) and bake for 30mins
The pastry should be baked and but not coloured- allow to cool
Check for holes & cracks, patching any up with the left over pastry

Poached Quince
1 quince – peeled & halved and cored
500ml water
20g sugar

Place water & Sugar in saucepan & gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
Place the quince halves in the simmering syrup, poach until tender- do not overcook the quince or it will become too soft. It will take approx 40 -45 min.
Remove from Liquid, cover and cool, and then slice into 5mm slices.

Cinnamon Sugar
100g granulated Sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
2-3 small drops olive oil
Place all the ingredients into a bowl & using your hands rub oil in to cinnamon & sugar to ensure even distribution and prevent separation. Set aside until required

Filling & Assembly
125g ricotta cheese
50g (1) egg
60g fresh cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Pre-heat oven to 190°C
Place ricotta cheese & sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth.
Add the egg, cream & lemon zest, and blend together until smooth. Do not over beat mix
Pour 1/3 of mix into the pastry case, then place quince slices evenly over the filling
Pour the remaining mixture over the quince and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar
Bake for 25-30mins (or until mixture is set).
Cool before removing from flan case
Dust generously with icing sugar before serving.

Give it a try & let me know how it works out...
I forgot they will be on special at our Bentleigh and Camberwell stores on Tuesday 16th March - for those that cant be bothered with the baking & want to get straight to the eating