Shortbread Christmas Trees

 

There’s just one more sleep to Christmas, people!

Whether it’s your thing, whether you celebrate it or not, it is the season to be kind, to show appreciation, to hold your family just a little closer, to let go, to celebrate.

It’s also the season for baking!

My chocolate crinkle cookies taste FANTASTIC but no one mentioned that they spread… They do not look pretty…

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But my shortbread Christmas tree came out pretty well, I think. Well, except for having to cover up the wrong colour frosting and making a bit of a mess at the top… After all these years of baking, it’s still hit and miss with biscuits and cookies. Give me bread any day!! No matter, it’ll be a cute little centrepiece for Christmas lunch tomorrow.

To all those celebrating Christmas, have a great day tomorrow. To those not celebrating, have a lovely day and enjoy whatever you have planned.

Now I’m heading off to the biggest party, with my little shortbread Christmas trees in tow… Fiesta Friday #100! And the celebration is going to last over two weeks to give everyone a chance to come and party for a little bit over the festive season. A huge thank you to Angie @The Novice Gardener for everything she does and to her merry helpers; this week they are Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju, Molly @Frugal Hausfrau, Steffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen. They are awesome ladies and know how to throw a party, so bring your treats and come say hi!

 

Shortbread Christmas Trees

  • Servings: Makes 4 trees
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Equipment

7.5cm/7cm/6cm/5.5cm/4.5cm/2.5cm star-shaped cookie cutters *

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • White frosting pen
  • Cachous or sugar flowers and icing sugar mixture to decorate

Method

  1. Process the butter, sugar, flours and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor, stopping and scraping down sides with a spatula, if needed, until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to combine.
  2. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until just firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line four large baking trays with baking paper.
  4. Roll out 1 portion of dough between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Using the 7.5cm star-shaped cutter, cut 8 stars from the dough. Repeat with the 7cm star-shaped cutter, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place the stars, 2cm apart, on two of the prepared trays. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned. Stand the shortbread stars on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting 8 x 6cm stars, 8 x 5.5cm stars, 8 x 4.5cm stars and 8 x 2.5cm stars from dough, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place on prepared trays, except smallest stars. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned, adding smallest stars halfway through cooking. Stand on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once completely cool, decorate the shortbread stars any way you like using the frosting pen. (Make sure to have enough frosting left to dab in the middle of each cookie, which will act like the glue holding the cookies together.)
  7. Place 4 of the biggest stars onto presentation plates. Place some frosting in the centre of each star and top with another same-sized star, rotating the cookie so that the points sit at a different angle to the fist star. Repeat layering with more frosting and the remaining stars, two of each size per tree, except for the smallest starts, to form four Christmas trees.
  8. Add more frosting to the top of each Christmas tree. Working with one tree at a time, sandwich two 2 small stars together and stand them on top of each tree, pressing gently to secure. Pipe any leftover frosting on the trees in a decorative pattern. Set aside to set and then decorate with cachous or sugar flowers and dust liberally with icing sugar.

 

* If you don’t have or don’t want to have so many different sized star shapes, you can make these trees still work really well by only using three different sized star cookie cutters – they will just be a little shorter.

Recipe from Super Food Ideas.

 

 

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

As some of you know, I’ve been participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, trying to do the smaller homework assignments each night and then getting my bake on during the weekend.

The homework assignments have led to some mighty tasty baked goods, I must say, including choux pastry, which was turned into mushroom sandwiches; proper, time-consuming puff pastry, which became sweet and crispy allumettes; yeasted dough, which was almost effortlessly transformed into a stollen-like loaf full of dark chocolate, figs and walnuts.

I am not a novice baker, but I have found that the Baking School lessons are laden with information, history, chemical alchemy and tips and tricks that even the most qualified bakers out there would find useful. Although I want to take step back now that we’re coming up to the cake layering and decoration side of things… Still don’t see why I can’t just bake the goodies and leave the decorating to someone else… someone with a lot more patience…

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

A string of events forged a path to this bread. This bread had to be baked. And now.

It started with figs. It occurred to me that we were nearing the end of fig season and I had yet to cook with them. The Baking School lesson for Day 13 was rich yeast breads and sweet breads. I purchased and started reading A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, where, in the very first entry, he evocatively writes about his tradition of baking bread on New Year’s Day. Around the same time, he also published a sweet fig and dark chocolate loaf recipe in his column for The Guardian.

I may not have followed the homework assignment to the letter, but I made the bread that I was meant to make.

Oh and if you make this, do yourself a favour and have a slice while it’s still warm and the chocolate filling is still gooey. Trust me.

It may not be warm any longer because I am so late this week, but I’m bringing the few slices I haven’t eaten to the Fiesta Friday 91 party, joyfully co-hosted this week by Angie @The Novice Gardner, Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 50g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 7g easy bake yeast
  • 100ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 3 figs (roughly chopped)
  • 100g dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 40g golden sultanas
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Glaze

  • 50g butter
  • icing sugar

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, then leave to cool down. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cooled butter and the lightly beaten egg. Mix thoroughly – the dough will be soft and rather sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured board. As you knead, the dough will become less sticky, more like a bread dough. When it is soft, elastic and no longer sticking to the board, transfer to a floured bowl. Set aside in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, for a good hour.
  2. For the filling, break the cardamom pods and remove their black seeds. Crush the seeds to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice mill. Mix the figs, chocolate, walnut halves, sultanas, cinnamon together.
  3. Dust the work surface with flour and tip your risen dough on to it. Roll out into a rectangle about 24cm x 20cm. Place the longest side towards you and spread the fig filling over the dough, then roll up, swiss-roll style, to form a plump loaf shape. Lift onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and return to a warm place to prove for a further hour. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until pale gold. Melt the butter for the glaze and brush over the loaf. Cool on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian’s website.

Apple and Strawberry Crumble with a Chewy Oat Topping

There are just too many distractions around me at the moment. Although, I will admit, that it is kind of my own fault…

I’ve just wrapped up a huge project at work and finally got the 84-page monster off to the printer, I’m participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, I’m still trying to find the optimum layout for my spices in my new pantry, not to mention the boxes that still need to be unpacked, and, unfortunately, I am watching a lot of TV.

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

You see, I had to – yes, had to – sign up for pay TV… How else was I going to watch The Great Australian Bake Off?? But access to the food channel brings along with it a whole host of shows that I have suddenly been suckered into watching.

This has made cooking dinner very difficult and taking twice as long as it should…

I am very grateful that these are the worst of my concerns at the moment.

I will admit that I did enjoy a fun evening prepping fruit for a crumble on the coffee table whilst watching some food show.

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

It that time of year again, that even if you are in a different hemisphere, pumpkin and apple goods are appearing everywhere. Or it could be that they have always been there and I’m just paying more attention to what’s around at the moment.

Whilst at the market hunting for some purple cauliflower, I found some beautiful apple cider-toasted oats, and with strawberries on sale at the next stall, an oat-topped apple and strawberry crumble was a no brainer. It’s seasonal for both my fall-happy friends on the other side of the world and for us here who are experiencing quite a fickle spring.

This worked out quite well seeing as I’m co-hosting Fiesta Friday #90 this week with Angie @The Novice Gardener and Lindy @Love in the Kitchen. Can you believe we’ve had 90 awesome fiestas? Ten to go before what I’m sure will be a huge extravaganza! So join in and share your recipes with us this week and stick around to chat with some lovely people.

Apple and Strawberry Crumble

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

The amount of fruit needed for a crumble all depends on the size of the baking dish you are using. Just keep cutting fruit until the baking dish is three-quarters full, which will allow room for the crumble topping. If you fill it right to the top, bake it with an empty baking sheet underneath to catch any juices that might bubble over. The amount of fruit I used filled a 33cm x 25cm oval baking dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 apples (peeled and chopped into small, even pieces)
  • 1 punnet of strawberries (cleaned, topped and chopped into quarters)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup demerara sugar (or a bit more depending on taste or the sweetness of your fruit)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (divided)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • Around 4 grates of a nutmeg seed, or to taste
  • 70g butter (melted)
  • Vanilla ice cream (to serve, optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Toss the chopped apples and strawberries together with the lemon juice and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and then stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, remaining cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in the melted butter and stir to combine. If the mixture is to dry and not clumping, add a little water to help bring the oats together into a soft clumps.
  4. Top the chopped fruit with oat crumble topping, gently spreading the mixture around as much as possible.
  5. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the oat crumble topping is golden brown – it goes from golden to brown very quickly so keep an eye on it in the last few minutes.
  6. Allow to stand for at least 5 minutes, 10 minutes is better, before serving, with or without ice cream and a teaspoon of sticky juice from the bottom of the baking dish.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

A curious even took place in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

A trans-Tasman bake off followed by a blind tasting of Anzac biscuits between two universities finally settled the argument once and for all – Australian Anzac biscuits were found to be the better, and sweeter biscuit, and this was according to New Zealanders themselves.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

The story appeared in a newspaper that my colleagues, one a proud New Zealander, spent a great deal of time discussing. In another paper on the same day was an article about Maggie Beer’s Anzac biscuit recipe and her work with Camp Gallipoli.

Discussions continued. Arguments ensued. A plan was formed. All eyes around the table turned to me. Apparently, we were going to have our own little Anzac biscuit bake off.

Our New Zealand colleague had a copy of Edmonds Cookery Book, which is the book that the two universities used for their own blind tasting. The Australian recipe apparently came from the Country Women’s Association Cookbook (Australia), but none of us had that.

And since it looked like I was getting suckered into this bake off, I was going to use whatever recipe I wanted, and that was going to be Maggie’s one that I had already stealthily pulled out of the newspaper.

The story behind Anzac biscuits is a bittersweet one. Rations for soldiers in Gallipoli were appalling, and so Australian and New Zealand mothers, wives, sisters and daughters were tasked with creating biscuits that could survive a long sea journey. It is believed that golden syrup was first used as a substitute for eggs as a binding agent during this time. The resulting baked good was a biscuit that travelled well when sealed and offered their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons a homemade ration that was tasty and full of love.

Maggie Beer calls it ‘a recipe born of love and necessity’.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

However, there was one strange ingredient listed in Maggie’s recipe for Anzac biscuits. Lemon zest. One persnickety colleague told me after the tasting: ‘They were really good, but they weren’t Anzac biscuits’.

His opinion didn’t matter that much. The unexpected hint of lemon was so good that my colleagues demolished my entire container full of biscuits.

Pretty sure I won that bake off… with the help of Maggie, of course!

I’m bringing these delicious lemon-scented Anzac biscuits to Fiesta Friday #65, created by the wonderful Angie @The Novice Gardener, which I am actually co-hosting for the first time this week with Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. I’ve been following Jhuls from the very beginning, and I can tell you that she is a lot more creative than she gives herself credit for!

So please join us for this week’s party, it’s a lot of fun and there’s always an abundance of beautiful food to feast on, awe-inspiring recipes and great people to chat with.

It’s not difficult or scary to join: link your post to Angie, Jhuls and my sites so we know that you’ve arrived to the party, and tag your post with ‘Fiesta Friday’ so that other like-minded revellers can find you. Doing so will also ensure that you’re in the running to be in the weekly feature – and we can all admit that when that happens we are ecstatically pleased, chuffed and a just a little proud. If you need them, here are the guidelines. To join, visit the FF #65 party and follow the prompts… easy peasy people!

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

  • Servings: makes about 30 biscuits
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Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup firm packed brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g butter
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb soda

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Mix the plain flour, rolled oats, coconut, brown sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the golden syrup and water. Once the butter has melted bring to a simmer over very low heat and then add the bicarb soda carefully as it will fizz.
  4. Add the butter and golden syrup mix to the dry ingredients and fold though.
  5. Roll into balls about 2cm around* and place on a lined baking tray, leaving space in between for the biscuits to spread. Slightly flatten each ball with the back of a teaspoon.
  6. Bake at 160°C for 16 minutes and golden in colour. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

* For thin, crispier Anzac biscuits, use small balls of the mixture. For softer, chewer biscuits, make them a little larger, between 5 and 6cm.

Recipe by Maggie Beer.

Easter Egg Muffins

And here is this year’s Easter dessert post…

My sister tells me that I have broken my nephew’s heart. And all it took was a group message to the three kids telling them that I’m not doing Easter eggs this year.

Is that cruel?

Some might think so.

Easter Egg Muffins

But they are not bubbies any more, and they certainly don’t need me to buy them Easter eggs, which for the record, I have not done in many years; instead, they would get a box of their favourite chocolates.

This year is a little different though. All of us are driving up to visit my eldest niece, who is studying interstate. All of us, that is, except for my nephew, who is staying home to work.

So you see, I wouldn’t have seen him to give him chocolate anyhow. He will still end up with a startling amount of Easter chocolate that may or may not get eaten.

easter muffins 2

But I will make amends with my nephew and offer him some Easter Egg Muffins that hold in their centre a baked and melty-gooey mini Easter egg. Baked good always make things better.

Easter Egg Muffins

  • Servings: Makes 12 muffins
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easter muffins 2

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 12 mini chocolate Easter eggs (unwrapped)
  • ¼ cup vanillin sugar (plus extra, for dusting)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line twelve 1/3-cup capacity non-stick muffin pans with paper patty cases.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar then make a well in the centre. Combine egg, oil and milk in a different bowl or jug and then pour the mixture into the well. Using a large metal spoon, stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  3. Spoon ¾ of the mixture into prepared cases. Press an Easter egg into the centre of each muffin making sure it does not touch the bottom.
  4. Spoon over remaining batter, making sure to cover the Easter eggs completely. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins liberally with vanillin sugar (approximately ½ teaspoon per muffin).
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are light golden and spring back when lightly pressed at centre. Stand in pan for 2 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Note: The muffins are best eaten on the day that they are baked. Once cooled, they can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to three months. All the muffins to defrost and enjoy them either at room temperature or warmed briefly in the microwave.

Recipe from Tracey Meharg from Taste.com.au.

Torta Pasqualina – A Savoury Easter Pie of Silverbeet, Ricotta and Eggs

Easter for me has always been about family and food.

And on the occasions when my sister hosts Easter lunch, it’s all about paring back her menu to a manageable amount that won’t leave her with mounds and mounds of leftovers.

Savoury Easter Pie

I tend to bake or cook Easter food from different countries and cultures to bring along to Easter lunch. Mostly because I’ve found a recipe I want to try, in part because I really don’t like the traditional Easter bread my family makes unless it’s three days old, toasted and slathered in butter, and a tiny little bit because I like to know there’s a safe vegetarian option for me and my youngest niece.

I’ve been holding onto a chocolate babka recipe for almost a year now, in anticipation for Easter, but not all plans work out as expected. In fact, the babka idea and post flew out the window the minute I saw a recipe for Easter pie in the latest Delicious magazine.

So, I’m assuming you’ve had your cocktails, your amuse bouches and are now ready for your Easter lunch starter: Torta Pasqualina.

Happy Easter everyone!

Torta Pasqualina (Savoury Easter Pie)

  • Servings: Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main
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Savoury Easter Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (bruised)
  • 2 bunches silverbeet (thick white stalks discarded, leaves finely chopped)
  • 400g ricotta (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Finely grated zest of ½ a lemon
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 50g grated pecorino
  • 7 eggs
  • 375g frozen puff pastry (thawed)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a 26cm springform cake pan.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan with a lid over high heat. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant . Add the silverbeet and cover with the lid. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until wilted. Season with salt and set aside to cool. Remove the garlic and discard. Drain the silverbeet in a colander, pressing down to remove the excess liquid.
  3. Combine the silverbeet, ricotta, nutmeg, lemon zest, grated cheeses and 2 eggs in a large bowl. Season and set aside.
  4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 5mm thickness. Line the base and 4cm up the side of the springform pan to form a rim. Cut the remaining pastry into four, 26cm-long strips and set aside.
  5. Spoon the ricotta mixture onto the pastry, smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon. Make four, evenly spaced indents in the filling, then carefully crack one egg into each indentation.
  6. Arrange the pastry strips in a criss-cross pattern over the filling to create 4 to 8 wedges.
  7. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it over any exposed pastry. Place the springform pan onto a baking tray and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until puffed, golden and crisp.

Recipe by Silvia Colloca.

Colcannon – A Colcannon by any other name would taste as good

Up until a week ago, I believed that the main ingredients in the most comforting of Irish foods, colcannon, were potatoes, milk, butter and cabbage.

So it came as quite a surprise to find out that cabbage is a substitute, and that kale was indeed the more traditional green to use when cooking colcannon, a kale/cabbage studded mashed potato.

Odd, considering that cál ceannann means ‘white-headed cabbage’…

Colcannon

When reading up on this Irish mash dish, I found Nigel Slater’s amusing column on colcannon, and how such a versatile dish with many variations can really only be called colcannon if it’s made up of potatoes, kale and milk. ‘Any changes you make to the classic,’ Nigel says, ‘will result in your dish getting a new name.’

Yet it was Nigel’s nifty twists that appealed to me more than the traditional version, so I tested it out on some Irish friends. One refused to acknowledge it as colcannon because that’s not how her mum and grandmother and great grandmother (etc.) made it; another said that as long as there were green specks through the mash, it was all good. The third didn’t really care what I called it as long as I gave her another helping.

I will admit that kale would make for a brighter, more noticeable green element to the mash, but the cabbage and leek mix made for a much mellower flavour that complimented the buttery potatoes quite well.

So, happy St Patrick’s Day everyone, and may you enjoy your colcannon any way you like it.

Colcannon

  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side dish
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Colcannon

Ingredients

  • 900g floury potatoes (peeled, coarsely chopped)
  • 40g butter (divided)
  • 80ml warm milk
  • 60ml crème fraiche
  • 250g leek (white and pale green part only, finely sliced)
  • 300g savoy cabbage (finely shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Extra butter to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Place the coarsely chopped potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for around 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Drain and return to the saucepan over low heat. Stir the potatoes a bit to release the steam, then remove from heat. Add 20g of butter, the warm milk and the crème fraiche and, using a potato masher, mash until smooth and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the remainder 20g of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the shredded cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 7 minutes.
  4. Once cooked and still warm, fold the leek and cabbage mixture through the mashed potatoes. Season with salt to taste and serve topped with chopped chive and extra optional butter.

Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater.

Apple and Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

It seemed that we had just ushered in 2014 when hot cross buns first made their appearance this year. Seriously, they’ve been commercially available for so long this year that they don’t really seem like a special treat anymore.

Treat or not, when I saw the first hot cross bun of the year back in January, I decided that this was they year I would finally make hot cross buns… and not just any hot cross buns either; I was going to make sultana-free hot cross buns!

So people, happy Easter, happy Pesach, happy hot cross bun season.

Hot Cross Buns

 

Apple and Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

Makes 20 hot cross buns.

Recipe very slightly altered by Emma Knowles, as found on the Australian Gourmet Traveller website.

Ingredients

  • 325g raw caster sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1½ Granny Smith apples (unpeeled, cored and diced)
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 750g plain flour
  • 100g dried apple (diced)
  • 30g candied orange (diced)
  • 14g dried yeast
  • 3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 380ml milk
  • 100gm butter (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Combine 260g sugar and 375ml water in a saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half a lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, cut remaining lemon half into 5mm-thick slices, add to pan with the diced apple and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Strain, reserving fruit and syrup separately. When cool enough to handle, dice lemon, combine with apple and set aside.
  4. Combine 700g flour, dried apple, candied orange, yeast, 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, allspice, rinds, remaining sugar, reserved apple mixture (not the syrup) and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  5. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm.
  6. Whisk in the egg and then strain the milk and egg mixture into the flour, stirring to form a soft dough.*
  7. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
  8. Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 30-40 minutes.
  9. Knock back the dough, divide it into 20 even pieces, then knead each piece into a smooth ball.
  10. Arrange dough balls into two concentric circles on a large round or rectangular baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand.
  11. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 220°C. Combine remaining flour and 70ml cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 200°C and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, combine reserved apple syrup and remaining ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy and combined.
  15. Brush thickly over hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

* It is important to strain the egg and milk mixture into the flour mixture so that you can catch any bits of egg that might have scrambled from the warm temperature of the milk.

 

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