Hot cross buns with orange glaze

We made this recipe from http://bitofthegoodstuff.com/ today. We’ve been trying different recipes each year and now we’ve found the one! (the recipe below includes our changes -more spice and more sultantas – but you can see the original at http://bitofthegoodstuff.com/2013/03/hot-cross-buns-dairy-free-egg-free-vegan/ )

Hands on time: 30 minutes Resting time: 1¾ hours
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes 15 medium or 12 large buns

Ingredients

Dough
– 250ml / 9 oz / 1 cup fortified soya milk (or other non dairy milk)
– 1 tsp fast action / easy bake yeast
– 2 tbsp sugar
– 2 tbsp neutral flavoured vegetable oil, such as rapeseed (canola)
– 500g / 17½ oz / 3½ cups plain (all purpose) flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 6 tsp mixed spice
– 200g / 7 oz / 1 packed cup sultanas or raisins
– 100g / 3½ oz / ½ cup Italian mixed peel
– Finely grated zest of 1 organic/unwaxed orange
-85ml / 3 fl oz / ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or other fruit juice)

Crosses
– 3 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
– 2 tbsp water

Glaze
– 2 tbsp sugar
– 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (or other fruit juice)

Method

Gently heat the milk until it is lukewarm. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yeast and sugar. After a couple of minutes the yeast will start to froth.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, spices. Stir in the sultanas, citrus peel and orange zest. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir in the oil, yeast milk mixture, and orange juice. Bring together the ingredients using your hands. The dough should be soft and sticky. Depending on the type of flour used, you may need to add a little more liquid.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or oiled cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place for an hour or so until it has doubled in size. If your house is cool (like ours), cover with oiled foil and place in the oven at 40C / 100F for an hour.

When the dough has risen, knead for a further 10 minutes then divide into 12 or 15 equal size balls. To ensure that the buns are exactly the same size and bake evenly, I weigh the dough. My dough tends to weigh about 1.125kg, so I tear off 75g for medium size buns. Roll the dough into smooth balls and evenly space out on a large baking tray (28 x 40cm / 10 x 15”) lined with non stick baking paper. Cover with the damp tea towel, oiled cling film (plastic wrap) or foil and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes or so, until they have risen.

Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan) / 410F.

To make the crosses, mix 3 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour with 2 tbsp water to form a thick paste. Spoon into an icing bag with a thin nozzle (or a plastic freezer bag and snip the corner). Slowly pipe along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf, until golden brown.

To make the glaze, gently boil the sugar and fruit juice in a small pan for about 5 minutes until it starts to thicken into a syrup. Brush over the buns while they’re still hot. Allow to set before serving. These buns are most delicious served warm or toasted.

The buns will last 2-3 days in an airtight container. They also freeze well. I tend to slice them in half before I freeze them so that they can be toasted without the need to defrost first.

Jemima helps make egg pie

Jemima has been helping me in kitchen for a while now. Here is a simple egg pie recipe with lots of easy and fun steps for toddlers to do. (summary of instructions below)

1. Jemima adding cheese to egg pie

Jemima adding cheese to egg pie

2. Jemima concentrating hard while spooning frozen veggies

Jemima concentrating hard while spooning frozen veggies

3. Kim and Jemima breaking eggs

Kim and Jemima breaking eggs

4. Jemima beating egg mixture

Jemima beating egg mixture

5. Jemima glazing the pie

Jemima glazing the pie

6. Jemima poking holes in pie

Jemima poking holes in the pie

7. Jemima eating the pie

Jemima eating the pie

Summary of steps

  1. Turn oven on to 190c
  2. Take out two sheets of flakey pastry and let them thaw a little to make them easier to use (5 minutes or so)
  3. Grease a square tin with butter
  4. Put one sheet of pastry on the bottom of the tin
  5. Slice a leek and put on top of the pastry
  6. Put in frozen corn or veggies
  7. Put in grated cheese
  8. Mix 8 eggs and pour over leeks, cheese and frozen veggies
  9. Put other sheet of pastry on top, brush with egg and prick a few times
  10. Put in oven for approximately 45 minutes

Kumara and Peanut Butter Soup

Really yummy soup given to me by my workmate June and posted for Orson :-)

Yummy Kumara and Peanut Butter soup

3 Tbls Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
Half tsp Fresh Ginger – Grated
1 *Fresh Chilli- Chopped
Half Tsp Ground Cumin
4 Kumara (sweet potatoes), peeled and sliced
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 Tbls Peanut Butter
Extra water if needed
Salt and Pepper

Put oil in heavy pot and add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin and kumara. Sauté over a medium heat until lightly cooked. Cover with the stock or water and simmer until the kumara is mushy. Add the peanut butter and using a wand, processor or blender, puree until very smooth. If the soup is to thick, add more water or stock to make a smooth soupy consistency. Season with salt and pepper, reheat and serve.

This soup freezes well. So if you make too much, put the remainder in a container and freeze for later use.

*If you are unable to get fresh chillies, dried chillies can be used, as can chilli powder. Try adding a little at first as the chilli is meant to give the soup a “bite” and should not overpower the Kumara.

Garden aprons

My birthday this year was awesome. There was sitting outside in the sun, drinking beer by the jug, going out to a nice restaurant with friends, an outdoor bath and in gardening related news – this awesome present from Caycos.

Birthday present from Caycos (picture by Caycos) (Photo also taken by Caycos)

I am now complete.

Our pinkhouse

I’ve become a bit obsessed recently with growing things. This has meant that a sunny portion of our sitting room has been taken up with germinating plants. Since this isn’t an ideal situation Thomas and I decided to create a mini greenhouse for seed propagation and small seedling protection.

Step 1: Buy an old window from the tip

We found the following wee gem from the local tip for $10.

Pinkhouse - Step 1: Buy window from tip shop

Step 2: Put some structure in place and have a cat patting break

Cat Break

Step 3: Put on the outer border

Boarding on 1

Step 4. Put on the outer border again (after removing the earlier attempt).

Apparently hardboard warps when wet. Not ideal for an outdoor construction (this time round we used treated plywood).

Boarding on

Step 5. Paint! We felt brave at the paint shop and purchased a paint called Blushingham. I had buyers remorse almost immediately but I actually really love it now.

Painting the Pinkhouse

Step 6. Put plants inside. This was my favourite bit. In this picture we have eggplants, capsicums, pumpkins, zucchini, various types of tomatoes, sunflowers, nasturtiums, basil, corn, leeks and chives.

Complete Pinkhouse

Old windows and raspberries

This weekend I bought an old window and frame at the tip shop for $10. I’ve seen similar windows for sale at recycled renovation places for $160 – $200. The tip is awesome, thanks for the suggestion Jackie. Thomas and I walked arm and arm between the old rusty baths, broken toilets and pieces of interesting junk. As you can guess it was rather romantic.

The window is going to be turned into a mini cold greenhouse. A cold greenhouse is one that isn’t intended for use in winter and therefore doesn’t need to be heated. Apparently the ideal conditions for a greenhouse are between 0°C – 37.7°C with ventilation equivalent to 17% of floor area.   I think I need something that will automatically report back the temperature to me via my phone. I’m going to paint it and stencil flowers on the wood (because I can).

In other garden news I’ve planted two different types of raspberries. It amused me greatly to plant the southern variety at the southern end of our property. I’ve also started zucchini and leek seeds off and put my seed potatoes in the sun. I planted rhubarb too but Thomas is more excited about that than I am :-)

Today we started on a retaining wall for a walkway area to the front garden. I’m glad we got the outdoor bath in early because I’m really looking forward to getting in the bath with a beer as soon as we finish.

The soil detective

 I performed the following test* on about 2 teaspoons of slightly damp soil to find out what sort of soil we have.

  1. Begin by forming a ball, if it stays together, then proceed to the next shape. If it does not form a ball, then you have a sandy soil.
  2. If you can flatten the ball without it breaking up, then you have a silty sand or a loamy sand.
  3. If you can roll the flattened ball into a thick sausage shape, then you have loam
  4. A soil that can be rolled into a think sausage is a clay loam
  5. if you can bend the soil into a horseshoe or ring shape, then you have clay soil.

My soil got to stage 3. It nearly managed stage 4.

Which means I have loam. Loams are a mixture of sand, silt and clay. You can have either a light or heavy loam. Getting to stage 3 would be a light loam and getting to stage 4 would mean a heavy loam. Since I got to stage 3.5 I believe I have a medium loam. Medium loams can be a really good soil mixture, they have the advantages of light and heavy soils without the disadvantage of either.  Yay.

* Thanks to "The Organic Gardener" by Christine and Michael Lavelle.

Cement, dirt and chocolate

The weekend was a hard one for clothes. Assorted clothes were rolled around in dirt, smothered in concrete and smeared with chocolate. I did get a veggie garden, a pole for a privacy screen and beautiful filled chocolate out of it.

My garden obsession is growing. I want to grow every single vegetable that I like (as well as peas and beans because they are pretty). So far I have seeds, seedling and plants for:

  • Capsicum
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkin
  • Strawberries
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon thyme
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Chives
  • Nasturtiums
  • Lemons

I really want to add:

  • Potato
  • Corn
  • Zucchini
  • Raspberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichoke

I’m trying to be an organic gardener and work with companion planting and non toxic sprays.  My mint has a fungi infection which apparently shouldn’t stop you eating it but does hurt the plant in the long run. After chatting to the garden centre lady and using the Google I have found that the best way to tackle the problem is with a spray of one part trim milk to nine parts water. I’m deeply suspicious of remedies that don’t have research behind them so was reassured after reading a research paper on the use on trim milk/water spray on commercial melon growing operations in NZ. We’ll see how my lovely Mojito producing Mint survives.

Here is a picture of my pumpkin seedlings. I love the way the seeds sit on top like hats.

Sprouting pumpkins

  • I’ve keeping an eye out on Trademe for a nice old window to turn into a seedling glasshouse on our front deck.
  • I’ve been watching "At Home with Jamie Oliver". He has a most amazing garden (also a gardener) and I quite enjoy watching/listening to him cook as well. He even cooks at least one or two vegetarian items per show.
  • I’ve also been watching "An edible garden" which is also British and is extremely entertaining. 

I think my worms are happier now. The instructions for my worm garden hadn’t mentioned requiring wet paper or carpet over the food which may be why my worms looked a little sad. I’ve added carpet with a little handle to make food applying easier so hopefully they will breed like crazy soon so they can take most of our kitchen scraps.