Lemon and Honey Hot Cross Buns (or, sun’s out, bun’s out!)


Happy Easter and happy hot cross bun season! 

Quite often, this blog is a bit doom and gloom; self care, cooking for colds, Rory Gilmore is terrible. But not today! Because let me tell you: everything is coming up Millhouse. 

It has been 3 and a half years since I moved to London, which means it’s been 3 and a half years since I needed somewhere to live and lied about how good I was at baking to get people to like me enough to let me live with them. 3 and a half years since I had to learn to bake to come good on that lie (my first Easter in London I made creme egg brownies which did go down well). 

Without wanting to sound like a total wang, I am SO PROUD of how far I have come in those years. I’ve gone from working in a bar for minimum wage (in some ways the most important experience of my life) to someone who has to go to management team meetings in a big-ass theatre. I got a job I like that pays me enough money to live in and enjoy London, and I worked hard to get there and I am so happy about it all. 

Perhaps most importantly, I am allowing myself to be publicly proud of myself. To think (know?) I am good at things.

See, I have also gotten good at the baking thing. No longer a lie, I can knead with the nearly-best of them, and these hot cross buns are a sunny celebration of the fact that I am a vaguely successfully human being. And of the fact that in the last two weeks there has been actual sunshine and drinking in parks and generally good things. They are laced with a lemony flavour, which makes them taste a bit fresher, lighter and sunnier. 

Lemon and Honey Hot Cross Buns
Yields 8
Fresh and zesty buns for a celebration
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Total Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. Half a cup of lemon juice (fresh or the bottle kind), plus another few tbsps for the cross)
  2. A few good fistfuls of raisins and candied lemon peel (I had about a cup and a half full)
  3. 250ml milk
  4. Zest of 2 lemons
  5. 50g butter
  6. 500g bread flour (plus another 100g for the crosses)
  7. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  8. 85g caster sugar
  9. 30g runny honey (plus 2 tbsp for glaze)
  10. 10g salt
  11. 7g sachet instant dried yeast
  12. 1 egg (plus another for an egg wash, if desired)
Instructions
  1. In a wee bowl, soak the fruit and candied peel in the lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Gently heat the milk until warm but not hot. Take off the heat and add in the butter and lemon zest. The butter should melt without needing extra heat. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. In a big bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and honey. Then add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl to the salt (if you dump it right on there and kill the yeast). Add the egg and the milk mix and bring together into a dough.
  4. The dough will be shaggy and quite loose, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 - 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Don't add more flour if you can help it.
  5. Lightly oil the bowl (I tend to use sunflour oil), pop the dough back in and cover with cling film. Leave to prove for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. When proved, add in the soaked fruit and knock back for a minute or two.
  7. Shape into buns (I did 8 big ones, but do however many you like at what size you like). Prove for 1 hr or until doubled in size.
  8. Prehet oven to 180°C.
  9. Mix the other 100g of flour with 2 - 3 tbsp of lemon juice until you get a paste that is pipeable.
  10. When the dough is proved, do a quick egg wash and then pipe crosses onto each bun (I cut the corner off a sandwich bag. I m terrible at piping).
  11. Bake for 30 mins (adjust depending on size - smaller buns will need less time), or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  12. While they are still warm, mix 2 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp water, then brush on the buns to make them shiny and sweet.
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Prosciutto Pinwheel (or, showing off)

Prosicutto Pinwheel
The chief exec at my former job once said ‘If you really want to intimidate people, make your own bread.’

She is a formidable woman – someone who has the ability to lure money from the grasping hands of the elite to fund the arts with the right bit of schmooze, who radiates confidence and rocks a set of John Lewis dress in colourful print like no one else. There were rumours flying around the she had once been a spy. She makes knockout millionaire’s shortbread and is known, apparently, for her sterling dinner parties.

She was leaving work early one day to prepare for one of her dinner parties. During the patter before staff meeting – the point where you’re still waiting for people to show or settle down with a brew – she told us about it, and mentioned bread.

‘If you really want to intimidate people, make your own bread.’

Prosciutto Pinwheel

Now, I am often the opposite of formidable. I am a little meek, a lot awkward. On this particular day I had brought homemade bagels to work. A colleague caught my eye and said ‘That’s why Rosie is so intimidating’, before cackling. I was asked about bread and confirmed I did indeed often make it, and the chief exec looked at me with an expression that suggested I had just shattered her entire world view.

This bread – which is rooted in the pear and walnut pinwheel in Richard Burr’s book BIY – is showing off, but it’s also more than that. It looks like a technical feat, but it’s simple enough. A simple dough, split in two and rolled flat, filled with stuff and then cut a bit. 

Bread is old. Bread is historically and culturally significant around the world in its different forms. Bread is the basic necessity of our nutritional existence; we are looked after by ‘bread-winners’, ‘mana’ descended from God came to the Hebrews in the dessert, semen means ‘seed’ in Latin. Bread is life, and as such bread is for sharing and for enjoying. Not completely for showing off. 

If I was intimidating, this would be an Intimidating Bread. It would strike fear into the hearts of my social inferiors, would leave them weeping at the sheer inadequacy of their own dinner parties. But to me that’s not the spirit of the thing – it’s cut to be a sharing loaf. This loaf should be ripped apart and eaten while still steaming, different hands fighting to tear it up. The caramelised onions bring sweetness, there’s a tang from the goat’s cheese, and the meatiness means a slice is basically a full sandwich. This is a filling loaf – good for a crowd. 

(I forgot to take a proper picture at the end, so here’s an instagram)

Prosciutto Pinwheel

Prosciutto Pinwheel
Yields 1
Bread for sharing.
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For the dough
  1. 300g strong flour
  2. 200g wholemeal flour
  3. 50g walnuts, roughly chopped,plus 5 or 6 left whole to decorate
  4. 1 sachet quick yeast
  5. 10g salt
  6. 310g water
  7. 15g oliver oil
For the filling
  1. Spinach - two big fistfuls
  2. 2 red onions, thinly sliced.
  3. 1 tsp sugar
  4. 125g soft goat's cheese
  5. 12 slices prosciutto
  6. 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Make the dough.Put the flours in a bowl, then the yeast on one side and the salt on the other (putting one on top of the other might kill the yeast). Add the walnuts, water and olive oil - you can do this gradually, and mix as you go, though I like to tip it all in immediately and get my hands straight in. Mix it all together until the flour comes away from the sides and it forms a coherent dough.
  2. Tip out the dough onto a clean work surface* and knead for 10 minutes (if the walnuts fall out just poke them back in), or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Lightly oil a bowl, pop the dough back in and cover with clingfilm. Set aside at room temperature for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a frying pan over a low heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the sliced onions and stir to coat. Cook for 15 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar, and stir to coat. Keep cooking and stirring until they caramelise. This might take about 30 minutes. When done, set them aside.
  5. Line a big square baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Take your risen dough, and cut it into two. On a lightly dusted surface, roll one piece out to be a big circle - as big as your tray will allow. It's a good idea to transfer this circle to the tray now, since it will be trickier when it's stuffed.
  7. Paint a few centimetres around the edge of the circle with the beaten egg. Then, lay the spinach out, keeping the leaves quite flat, within the egg circle. Cover this with the onions, then the goat's cheese. Lay the prosciutto over everything. I like to make an extra big pile of prosciutto in the middle
  8. Roll the second half of the dough to a circle of the same size, again on a lightly floured surface. Flip this onto the top of the spinach-goats-cheese-meaty goodness.
  9. Place a mug in the middle of the bread, and then use a sharp knife to cut outwards from the mug into sixteen segments.
  10. Gently pick up a segment and twist twice. Repeat for all segments. Using a sharp knife, cut a corner off each segment (this is just for presentation, not necessity).
  11. Heat your oven to 220°C. Leave the bread for 30 minutes.
  12. Once its risen a little, brush the dough with the rest of the beaten egg, place 5 walnuts in the centre if you wish to, then bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.
Notes
  1. *You can flour a surface, but you don't need to, because as you knead the dough will pick up all the dough left on the counter. Do it lightly if you feel it helps.
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties (or, love of leftovers)

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties

Christmas is done. This year, it was just me and my parents. My mum and I, despite lacking two additional family members since my brother and his wife are up in Yorshire, decided not to scale down dinner at all. 12 Yorkshire puddings for 3 people obviously seemed about right. This Boxing Day, we are therefore up to our knees in Celebrations wrappers and a shedload of leftovers.

In a mission to start to work through the leftovers, I made these sandwiches. They are quick, because Christmas Day is all about big and bold and excess, but Boxing Day is about lay ins and good books and lounging. But Christmas, as a time, is really all about deliciousness, which these sandwiches definitely are. 

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties

(Actually, I think there was a time when Christmas was all about toys and watching my dad put stickers on things and making Lego constructs, and another time when it was about getting as far in to the latest Final Fantasy game as possible in a single day, but now it is absolutely all about food).

These toasties are very buttery, a little crispy, and full of cheese, and a bit fruity, which is everything you want in a season so wholeheartedly dedicated to calories. They are really quite filling, too. They are quick enough that you can whip them up for some people you love, increase surplus fridge space, do a quick clean and still have time to fit in a watch of Paddington in the afternoon. 

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties

 

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Bread
  2. Leftover Christmas Turkey
  3. Cranberry Sauce
  4. Brie
  5. Butter
  6. Salad Leaves (I used rocket)
For one sandwich
  1. Cut two slices of bread. Lightly butter each side of each slice.
  2. On one side of one slice, pile up some brie.
  3. On one side of the other slice, spread over some cranberry sauce, and pile on some turkey.
  4. In a frying pan, over a medium heat, melt a little butter. Then, place the brie slice (butter down, brie up) into the pan, and fry until the underside browns.
  5. When the bread has browned, throw a handful of rocket onto the brie.
  6. Then, take the cranberry-turkey covered slice, and place it (turkey down, butter up), quickly, onto the brie slathered bread.
  7. Flip the whole sandwich, and let the bread on the other side brown again.
  8. Remove, serve. Repeat for as many sandwiches as you need, or want.
Adapted from from Christmas Dinner
Adapted from from Christmas Dinner
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/