Baking that isn't particularly necessary to the smooth running of the RJ household (although it will often include a batch of bread, to justify the whole endeavour - "Well, the oven was on, so...).
Baking to soothe my soul after the week that has been...
Actually, the baking might not be done before the Husband's up - but it's all been kicked off to the point of no return, so he often comes down to a kitchen that looks more like someone's had an accident in a flour factory (or added icing sugar to a food mixer while it's on full speed), tins, packets, knives, spoons and cracked eggshells and juiced lemon skins all over the place. Poor man.
Of course, this weekend it's Easter, so there was added purpose to my early baking session - hot cross buns and a rather tasty looking simnel tray bake thing, both of which I'd clocked in issues of April Good Food - the buns from 2013, the tray bake from April 2012's issue.
My record with hot cross buns is mixed. In the past, they have been
I followed the recipe pretty much as is from the Good Food one (the link's up there) although I added in the zest of a lemon as well as an orange to the milk infusion.
You add a mixture of warm milk infused with orange and lemon zest and melted butter into the dry ingredients, along with an egg, so it's a very enriched dough, quite like a brioche.
It was also quite a wet dough, but where previously I would have panicked and chucked in more flour, I carried on kneading, and low, it came good.
Once it's risen, you divide it up and make your buns - 11 to represent the faithful Apostles (i.e. not Judas!), then put them in a circle on a floured baking sheet.
So far so good. Leave them again to plump up, before casually mixing up some flour and water paste and making crosses on each bun...
... or not. I never EVER manage this bit. Every year, I try. I use different methods suggested. Every year, I fail. This year may well be the last time...
But moving swiftly on, I'm sure you're not so shallow as to dismiss my buns for being more splodge than cross. And indeed, you really shouldn't because the buns themselves are a triumph. Really light - like iced bun texture, with a fruity, cinammony taste. Not a rock in sight. They could have done with being a bit more spiced - if I make them again, I would add some all spice or something to give them a little more of those Easter scents
The recipe in Good Food recommends serving this ring of buns with some spiced honey butter (I expect if you did this, you'd get over the need for more spices in the buns themselves), but I chose to smother mine in passion fruit curd. Yum.