Easter 2017

I haven’t been posting for long time on here or my FB page, but I just had a busy baking week and I thought I would sit down and record what was going on.

We moved the house last July to an old bungalow which belonged to my father-in-law from our house in Belfast which we lived about 7 years.  The house is in the country, about 30 minutes drive from Belfast. This is where my husband grown up and where our boys’ Grandad had lived.

Every Easter, ever since my boys are big enough to run around and developed the love for chocolate, we came to this ‘Grandad’s house’ for Easter. Our garden in Belfast was small and Grandad’s garden was bigger (and likely to have more rabbits living nearby), so we would bring a basket each for boys to collect eggs, hot cross buns and a simnel cake to share. Grandad would come out to the garden even if it was bit chilly and stand at the corner of his house to watch boys run around his garden looking for chocolate eggs.

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This year, we are living here. No Grandad now but we did the same as before, with same cake and same buns.

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Simnel cake is a strange one. It is apparently a traditional cake for Easter, but I think it actually became known about 5 years ago or so. I don’t know if this cake was once popular and forgotten OR it was only baked in certain part of UK and became known widely recently. But we like rich fruit cake and burnt marzipan, so it became our Easter tradition.

For this cake, I don’t actually follow certain recipe. I make a Christmas cake dough (any rich fruit cake recipe will do), just add marzipan in the middle (put a half of cake mix in the tin, add a layer of thin marzipan, topped with rest of cake dough), bake as you’ll do for Christmas cake and decorate the top with more marzipan and toast the top. (I just put the whole cake under a grill, but if you have a burner, it will work well. )

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Our favourite for Easter time is this hot cross buns. It’s a sweet raisin bread, with bit of cinamon. You can see the recipe of this bun at my old post. Hot cross bun

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A blue egg in the picture was a wee present from my husband. It had a few champagne truffles inside of a hand-pained wooden egg. A real treat for me. x

A few more days of Easter holiday left. Boys are running around in the Grandad’s garden. I wonder if I should make another batch of hot cross bun before the school starts.

Hot Cross Bun (Easter 2015)

It’s Easter weekend! My boys are counting down to ‘the bunny day’. They are excited about egg hunt, and my little one is also hoping to eat more of Easter treats, mainly hot cross buns.

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I nearly forgot that my wee son loved those so much last year. (My big boy isn’t keen on dry fruits.)

Hot cross bun is lovely sweet yeast bread, with dry fruits and smell of cinnamon.

You can see my last year’s post about hot cross bun. The recipe of this bun is there.

Those buns appear in the shop just after Christmas and disappear after Easter, so you must eat them now! But really, it is a tasty bun, I don’t know why we don’t eat them all year around.

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Happy Easter!!

and I am a bit late but happy Fiesta Friday 62!  Thank you, Angie, and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport! And Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs for this week’s FF.

Strawberry Iced Fingers

Iced fingers are sweet oval shape bread, coated with white icing sugar paste. Sometime, it is also topped with desiccate coconuts. It is quite simple bun, plain but scrumptious.

My 4 years old son love anything ‘iced’. One day after seeing me making lemon icing for biscuits, he came up with interesting idea for icing.
He wanted to make strawberry icing. While I was wondering if I can make strawberry icing without strawberry flavoring, perhaps using strawberry jam, he told me to ‘squish strawberry and use strawberry juice to make icing’.

Why did I not ever thought of that? I do lemon icing with lemon juice and icing sugar, but never ever thought of making strawberry icing with fresh strawberry.

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So, as he requested, I made strawberry puree by just putting fresh strawberries in blender, and added some icing sugar to right consistency. The icing smelled so lovely and the colour was nice pink without adding any colouring.

P1100440-2You can use any sweet enriched bread recipe, and add icing of your choice on top. But if you are not familiar with iced fingers, BBC Food’s Paul Hollywood’s one will be good one to try.

(But I would reduce the yeast to half, just 6 or 7g, instead of 2x7g, and take longer bulk fermentation. )

P1100445-2It will be much more decadent if you split them in half and fill with whipped cream. But make sure you only fill the ones you going to eat straight away. Because if any left, cream needs to be in fridge but bread shouldn’t be chilled.

Strawberry iced fingers were nice as it is, or just with butter anyway.

The creator of this icing enjoyed his bun very much. yum!

Croissant aux amandes – almond croissant

During this week, I celebrated my thirty something birthday.
I was given ‘surprise’ presents from my boys. My boys were so excited that they could hardly keep the surprises, but it was lovely.
One present was a pot of flower, as we visited a garden show on Saturday. It was my wee one’s idea; and as soon as I said ‘Oh I like this flower’ at one of nursery stalls, he said ‘close your eye, mummy!’ and went to get money from his dad and bought me the plant. Then he went, ‘Open your eyes! SURPRISE!!!’
My big boy also gave me a gift of ‘Happy Birthday, Mummy!’ and sang me happy birthday song over and over. He is 6 and half now, but he has special need and it is the first time he said those so clearly. (Not perfect, but his best ever!)
These are the moments that I’ll treasure.

Another surprise present was a cake.
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Full of icing and decoration!

My husband and boys made me this cake while I was out. My husband used old recipe book/file I made while I was in Norway long time ago. We were in a mountain hotel far from a city, and I use to bake without any cookbook or internet or any scale, just my own memory and feeling. To be honest, this recipe book wasn’t good, as I made so many mistakes in measurement and in English, but it was such a lovely surprise that my husband  made a cake for me with little helpers using this book.

I was also given some baking/kitchen related presents from my good friends and husband which I am sure that it will show up in this blog at some stage.  Thank you!

That’s enough for a birthday, isn’t it?

Ahhh, not for greedy me.
I made something for myself as well.

I made almond croissants for me.
I love croissant for my breakfast or snack. But it is a special occasion treat. I was allowed as much croissant as I liked, because it was my birthday.
And croissant making is time consuming, it is a luxury baking when you are suppose to be looking after kids and cleaning the house. But it was my birthday, so I spend my day making them.

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croissant aux amandes

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 1 day+
  • Difficulty: intermediate, time consuming
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The recipe below is adopted from a recipe book of a French baker living in Japan ( ‘Philippe Bigo no pan’ – L’ Amour du Pain by Philippe Bigot).
If you haven’t made croissants before, I recommend to look for website/book with step by step photo before starting.

croissant dough
plain flour…………100g
strong flour……….100g
milk…………………110g
egg…………………….15g
sugar…………………20g
salt……………………..3g
easy dry yeast……….2g

butter for folding in……….100g

1. Knead the dough, just as usual bread.
2. cover and leave to rise for 1 hours in warm place. Then further 3 hours in fridge.
3. roll the butter into flat square, between cling films, about 16cm square.
4. Take bread dough from fridge, cut cross on top. Open this cross to make rough square shape. Then roll till you get large enough square to cover the butter. (about 23cm square)
5. Placing the butter in the middle (butter’s corners pointing top and bottom, left and right) of the dough (dough’s corners pointing top right, top left, bottom right and bottom left). Take corners of dough into the middle and cover the butter completely.
6.Roll to 5mm thickness, long rectangle.  Hold 1/3 to the middle. Then fold another 1/3 to the middle. Cover and rest in fridge for 6-12 hours.
7.Turn the dough 90 degree, and roll again. Hold into 1/3 again.
8. Turn the dough 90 degree again, and roll. hold into 1/3. Cover and rest in fridge for 30min.
9. Roll again to large rectangle, about 14 cm high, 5mm thick. Rest in the fridge for another 30 min.
10. Cut the all the side of the dough with pizza cutter or sharp knife. Then cut dough into 13cm high 11cm wide triangles. Rest for 30 min.

Almond cream
egg…………………….1 egg
butter…………………50g
sugar………………….50g
ground almond…….50g
plain flour……………1 tbs
almond essence…….a few drop

11. Cream butter and sugar, then add others to make almond cream.

for finish
egg…………………..little bit for egg wash
sliced almond…….some
icing sugar…………little for dusting

12. Take the triangle croissant dough, place it pointy bit toward you, pull the top corners slightly to stretch. Then place some almond cream on top.
13. Start rolling. Pull the pointy bit slightly while rolling. Place it on baking mat.
14. Leave in warm place for 60-90 min. (not too warm. butter shouldn’t melt at this point)
15. egg wash the top and put some almond, and bake in the preheated oven 190C for 12 min-15 min till golden.
16. dust with icing sugar before eating. Yum.

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Enjoy with a cup of hot coffee. Well worth the effort.

Happy Fiesta Friday!! 

(May 2014)

Kabocha Pumpkin Cream Bun

I bought half a KABOCHA pumpkin (Japanese pumpkin/Kabocha squash) in an Asian supermarket the other day. It has green skin with orange fresh, it’s lot harder than Halloween pumpkins. These pumpkins are floury and sweet when cooked (good quality ones are, at least.)
I cooked some in sweet soya sauce,  and I had 1/4 left to make these pumpkin buns.

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Kabocha pumpkin cream bun.
It’s very soft and sweet, packed with Kabocha’s goodness (and with a bit of sin of added sugar.)

I refereed to this pumpkin bread recipe on Japanese cooking site (it’s in Japanese), and adjusted ingredients and method to suit me. The original recipe uses strings to make very cute pumpkin shape, so if you got steady hands and time, give it a go. I opted to simple cutting method instead here.

Pumpkin cream bun

  • Servings: 9
  • Time: 3hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pumpkin dough
kabocha pumpkin……..100g (I didn’t have enough Kabocha left, so I used some butternut squash as well)
strong flour……………..250g
easy dry yeast………….3g
salt…………………………2g
sugar………………………20g
honey……………………..1tsp
egg york+milk…………60g
water…………………….60g
butter……………………25g

Pumpkin cream
kabocha pumpkin……..250g
sugar………………………40g
butter…………………….15g

1. cut all the kabocha pumpkin (100g +250g ish) into small pieces, remove skin (but keep some for decoration), and microwave till soft.  (cook a couple of piece of skin as well)
2. using hand blender, make purée of the pumpkin. divide it to 100g and 250g.

3. Make dough. put strong flour, yeast, sugar, salt, 100g of pumpkin, all the liquid in the mixer, and mix for 5 min or so.
4. Then add butter and continue to mix for another 5 min or so.
5. Leave it covered in clean bowl, in a warm place for 90min or till dough is double in size.

6. Make pumpkin cream. Mix 250g pumpkin with sugar and butter. If this is too wet, put it in the pan and cook on low heat to reduce the moisture. If the mixture is too hard (floury), add a tea spoon of milk. It’s depend on the pumpkin, so adjust as you go along.

7. Once dough is ready, divide into 9 equal ball. Set to rest with cover for 15-20 min.
8. Flatten each dough ball, put pumpkin cream in the middle, gather the edge to tuck the cream inside and form nice round shape again.
9. Leave on the baking tray for 1 hour in warm place, covered, till it double in size again.
10. Snip the edge of bun, 6 places. (Original recipe I saw used string to make lovely perfect pumpkin shape, but it would be too fiddly for me, so I opted for this simple method.)
10. Bake in 160C oven for 12-15 min.
11. Once cooled, cut the skin piece you microwaved to small sticks, and stick it on the top.

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This was one of my attempt to encourage my boys to eat more variety of vegetable. My elder one ate it without looking while he was busy on his computer. My wee one happily ate outside but pumpkin cream couldn’t deceive him.  Well, I like it, so it was a success.

It’s May bank holiday weekend!
Have a nice weekend.
Happy Fiesta Friday!!!

Hot Cross Bun

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny two a penny
Hot cross buns
If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons
One a penny two a penny
Hot cross buns

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I don’t have any daughters, so I shall bake it for my sons.

We went to an Easter craft fair last weekend, we had a great fun playing outdoor and making  Easter decorations.
It got me in the mood for Easter.
Now, I am emptying an egg with two tiny hole every time I use eggs to make decoration later, buying chocolate eggs and making Easter related treats.

Hot cross bun is one of my wee son’s favourite, as he loves any sweet bread with raisins.

Anyway, I’d like to bake hot cross buns several times before Easter. So far this year, we had them twice already, and not even Easter holiday yet!

P1070074 (640x481)I use this recipe below, original recipe was from Paul Hollywood’s book ‘Bread’. but altered to suits me and my family.  (Actually I realised that BBC food recipe linked above is also slightly different from his recipe on the book)

I like his idea of putting fresh apple inside to make this bun interesting and moist.
We don’t like peel so much, so I changed the peel to cherries. (I also changed a few quantity and method here and there. So, if you are interested in Paul Hollywood’s recipe, please see the link above. )

Hot Cross Bun

  • Servings: 8 buns
  • Time: 4hr or so
  • Difficulty: intermediate, sticky tricky dough for bread beginner
  • Print

<for dough>
strong flour….250g
instant dry yeast….3 g
sugar….35g
salt…2g
milk…..115cc-125cc
egg…..1
butter…20g
cinammon…..tsp1
orange zest….about 1 orange

sultana….70g
natural colour glacé cherry…..40g
apple (sweet one, not cooking type)….smallish one 1/2, chopped into tiny cube

<for cross>
plain flour….20g
water….20g

<for glaze>
apricot jam…1 or 2 tbs

1. Knead flour, yeast, sugar, milk and egg together for 5 min in a mixer with dough attachment.
2. Add butter, orange zest and cinnamon, knead for further 5 min or so. Until it is smooth and elastic. (It is very sticky dough)
3. Put the dough in lightly oiled bowl, rest in warm place for 1 hour or more till the dough is double in size.
4. Take the dough out of the bowl once, mix in sultana, cherry, apple.
5. Put it back in the bowl, leave to raise again for another 1 hour or so.
6. Gently take it out in floured surface, divide into 8 round bun. Try to put fruits inside as much as possible, as raisin on the surface will burn. It’s very sticky at this stage, so use flour on surface and your hands to keep it manageable, but don’t over do it.
7. Place buns in a tray with baking sheet, cover (but not touching the dough) and leave it on warm place for 1 hour till the dough is double in size.
8. Pre-heat oven 190C.
9. Mix plain flour and water to thick paste. Put them in a small piping bag (i usually make one using a baking sheet cut into a triangle ), put cross on each bun.
10. Bake for 15- 20 min till golden brown.
11. Take them out of oven, graze with apricot jam.
12. Once cooled, you can eat them cut in half & spread butter. Enjoy.

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(April 2014)

Caramel Rolls

When I was making so many fudge for a charity gala, I made a few mistake. (Fudge Testing and Fairtrade Fudge Favour) One big one was that I measured the size of tin  wrong, and one big batch of rum& raisin fudge was too thick and too soft to cut. So, I tried to recover this soft fudge and re-heated as instructed on a website. But then, the fudge turned into something more like caramel, toffee consistency. It was definitely not fudge.

So, I kept this failed rum raisin caramel-ish fudge aside, and went on making more fudge. It went all well in the end, but I was left with this huge block of rum raisin caramel.

I am not the one to throw away edible food. I freeze some and used some to make this rolls.


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Rum Raisin turns into Caramel Rolls.

This was a creation of mishaps.
I cannot tell you how I made this caramel slab which I rolled in to this bread. It was made by accident.

But I am sure you can use anything toffee like products, any semi hard caramel or caramel cream, left over toffee from making banoffee pie, or if you have any failed fudge like me.

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The thing is… it is just like cinnamon rolls, but the filling doesn’t have to be traditional cinnamon sugar butter. It could be anything. Maybe chocolate rolls or coffee rolls, jam rolls and possibility is endless!

This caramel roll was sticky and sweet, melted caramel was gorgeous especially when it was eaten warm.
I took them to friends who were helping to set up Hinamatsuri party (see here on my blog) straight from my oven, it went down as a treat!

I still have more of this rum raisin caramel slab, so I shall come up with more way to consume it.

Sweet Bread  (which I use for rolls like this)
strong flour….300g
egg….1 (milk and egg should be 210g all together)
milk…. 210g – gram of egg.
sugar…30g
salt….4g
instant dry yeast….4g
butter….30g

(March 2014)