Hot cross buns with orange glaze

We made this recipe from 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 )

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

Makes 15 medium or 12 large buns


– 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)

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

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


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.


I made ciabatta! It had a chewy crust and tasty crumb and everything!


The overall process is as follows (recipe adapted from here):

  1. Make a sponge of yeast, water and flour. Leave it for 12-24 hours.
  2. Make a dough by adding more yeast, milk, oil, flour, water and salt. Leave to rise.
  3. Separate and shape dough loaves, being careful to preserve as much air as you can. Leave to rise.
  4. Bake in the oven.

What You’ll Need

  • 2½ tsp dry yeast
  • 950g/3½ cups sifted bread flour (strong/high gluten)
  • 5 tbs. warm milk
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp. salt
  • water
  • Baking paper
  • Baking/pizza stone (optional, can use a tray)

The Process

Make the sponge

  • 1 tsp. dry yeast
  • 250ml/1 cup warm water
  • 350g/1½ cup sifted bread flour (strong/high gluten)
  1. Take a medium sized bowl and add the warm water and yeast.
  2. Leave it to sit for five minutes to go frothy (and thus prove the yeast is working).
  3. Add the flour and stir together.
  4. Cover with cling film and leave to sit in a coolish spot for 12-24 hours (not the fridge).

Make the dough

  • 1½ tsp. dry yeast
  • 5 tbs. warm milk
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 250ml/1 cup warm water
  • 600g/3 cups sifted bread flour (strong/high gluten)
  • 2-3 tsp. salt
  • (possibly some additional warm water/flour to achieve the right consistency)
  1. Take a large mixing bowl and add the warm milk and yeast.
  2. Leave it to sit for five minutes to go frothy (and thus prove the yeast is working).
  3. Add the sponge mixure, the oil and the water. Mix together.
  4. Add the first two cups of the flour and the salt and mix together.
  5. Keep adding flour until the dough gets to the right consistency. It should be quite moist but still possible to be worked by hand. (See notes below).
  6. Knead the dough until it is nice and smooth.
  7. Oil a large bowl, place the dough in it and cover.
  8. Leave to rise in a warm place until tripled in size.

Create the loaves

From this stage on we want to do our best to keep as much air in the bread as possible. Don’t punch down or squash the dough, and try to minimise handling.

  1. Lightly flour as many pieces of baking paper as you intend to make loaves. (This just makes it easier to handle.)
  2. Divide the dough into 2-4 pieces (I suggest either flattish and rectangular or more loaf-like) and put one onto each piece of baking paper.
  3. Cover and leave to rise for another hour or so.

Bake in the oven

  1. Preheat oven and tray/baking stone to 200c.
  2. Turn each each loaf upside down and transfer to another piece of baking paper (reuse the ones used so far).
  3. Use the baking paper to transport the loaf to the oven.
  4. Spray/brush the loaves with water three times within the first 10 minutes of cooking.
  5. Cook for a total of 15-25 minutes (depending on loaf size) until bread turns golden.

All done. Eat the yummy bread!

Notes for next time

  • I would like to increase the openness of the crumb (i.e. more holes). The advice I’ve seen indicates that you need to make the dough even wetter – but then it gets very hard to work. The suggestion was to knead the dough in the bowl (or use a mixer).
  • Someone else suggested doubling the olive oil.


This calzone was the second course for a dinner we hosted last week. Thomas had a day off work so he did all the cooking!

The calzone was made and assembled before-hand so all we had to do was pop it in the oven, which meant no running in and out of the kitchen and more time to sit and talk with friends (and drink wine!).

The bread was golden and crusty and the filling had a lovely tart taste due to a combination of olives and feta.



  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tsps active yeast
  • 4 cups ‘strong’ bread flour
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • extra flour (for kneading)
  • extra olive oil

Prove the yeast by putting the warm water into a small bowl, dissolving the sugar into it and then adding the yeast. Leave in a warm place and the yeast should start bubbling and frothing within 5-10 minutes. If not – you need to start again with better yeast.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the olive oil and the yeast/water mixture. Mix to combine into a dough. Remove the dough and knead for five minutes on a flat, floured surface.

Put a dribble of olive oil into the bowl and coat the bottom and sides with it. Put in the kneaded ball of dough and move it around so it too has a fine coating of olive oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave in a warm place. It should rise to 2-3 times the size in an hour or two.

Optional – knead the dough again and then let it rise again.

Briefly reknead the dough and then divide into two. Roll/spin/press the first half into a flat sheet. Either flour or oil the tray/pizza-stone you’re going to cook it on and put the dough on it. Then it’s time to start adding ingredients.


Filling Ingredients (adjust to taste)

  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 head broccoli – chopped into small florets
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 100gms feta, crumbled
  • 20 kalamata olives, pitted and cut into two
  • 150gm roasted capsicum, chopped
  • 100gms mozzarella, grated
  • 50gms cheddar cheese, grated

Spread the pesto over the base. Add the rest of the ingredients in roughly the order given, finishing off with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses on top.

Take the rest of the dough and roll/spin/press out into a second flat sheet and use it to cover the other one. It needs to go all the way to the sides so you can seal the calzone by pressing down on the edges.


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp rosemary and/or oregano (fresh is best, dried is ok)
  • salt
  • pepper

Coat the top with the olive oil. Sprinkle on the rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper.


Make three 5-10cm diagonal cuts in the top of the calzone. This lets steam escape while it’s cooking.

Put into a hot oven (220c) until done – approximately 20-30 minutes. Cooking time is fairly imprecise as it’s going to depend on the size and composition of the calzone. Towards the end of the cooking time you may wish to remove the calzone and tip it slightly – any excess liquid should drain out – return to the oven to finish.

Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into long slices (it looks more dramatic that way) and serve. (serves 5)

Sweet Grape Hearthbread

I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it’s always tasted yummy. One thing I do suggest is making the effort to get small grapes. The larger ones seem to turn into lip burning juice bombs.

Oh, and never ever put your piece of hearthbread down on a surface you’ve just used for cutting garlic. Grapes and garlic don’t really go together. Who’d have thought it?

Sweet Grape Hearthbread



  • ½ cup standard flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sure bake yeast
  • ½ cup of warm water


  • 3 to 4 cups of standard flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300-400g small grapes
  • 2 tbsp sugar


Put all the sponge ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 10-30 minutes.

To make the dough, add to the bowl the warm water, olive oil, sugar, salt and 3 cups of flour. Mix in with a wooden spoon, adding more flour if needed to make a soft dough. Attach the dough hook to the machine and knead the mixture for about 5 minutes. Detach the dough hook and cover the bowl with a damp tea towel.

Set aside in a warm place until the dough has risen by at least double.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured bench and roll out approximately 3mm thick to fit into a shallow-sided baking dish approx 45x30cm. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil and set aside until it is well-risen and puffy. Depending on room temperature, this will take an hour or so.

Half an hour before the dough is likely to be ready, turn on the oven to 220°C. When the dough has risen, use your fingers to press deep dimples into it. Scatter the grapes over the dough, so that many of them are lodged in the dimples. Use the flat of your hand to press the grapes firmly into the dough. Sprinkle generously with sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the dough is golden brown and the fruit bursting.

Slide the hearthbread onto a rack, and leave to cool until lukewarm before cutting into 12 large squares. Serves 6.


The recipe says to use a mixer but I did it all by hand and it was fine.