Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bread Maker Hot Cross Buns - Version 2.0

Is there anything better at Easter time than sitting down with a Hot Cross Bun fresh out of the oven, totally smothered in butter and a hot cup of tea?!

Over the years I have posted several Hot Cross Bun recipes on this blog.

Every year I make a batch for Mr B and I and every year, whilst I do enjoy them, I can't help comparing them to their shop brought cousins and feeling somewhat disappointed in the end result due to either a lack of flavour or due to the buns being too dense.

Well this year I decided to try a new recipe and I am pleased to say I finally found one that ticks all the boxes. Big. Soft, Fruit Filled. Flavour Packed. Hot Cross Buns.

And the best part?

I used the bread maker for the dough which just made this whole process so very simple.

Hot Cross Buns - Makes 12

4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups luke warm milk
15g dried yeast (I used 2x 7g sachets)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
60g butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup plain flour (extra)
1/3 cup water
1 tbspn caster sugar (extra)
1 tbspn hot water
1 tspn gelatine

In the bowl of a bread maker, add the flour, salt, milk, yeast, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, butter and egg. Select the 'dough' cycle and let it do it's thing. Mine took about 90 mins all up but after 30 mins it beeps so you can add any extras like the sultanas.

Once the dough is done, remove to a bowl. Punch the dough down and knead lightly until smooth. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and knead each one into a round shape. Place onto a large greased tray with sides about 1 cm apart. (I use a 20cm x 30cm baking tin). Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm spot for about 15 mins or until doubled in size. This may take a little longer depending on the temperature.

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Mix the extra flour and water together for the crosses and place in a sandwich bag. Snip the corner off the bag and pipe crosses on the buns. Place in the oven for about 20 mins or until golden and cooked.

Mix the extra caster sugar, hot water and gelatine together for the glaze. Brush the glaze over the buns as soon as you get them out of the oven.

One of the issues with home made Hot Cross Buns can be that they don't stay fresh for very long so this year as soon as the buns had cooled down I wrapped each one individually in cling wrap and popped them in the freezer. We have been getting them out of the freezer for Mr B's lunches the night before and by the time he goes to have them for lunch they are just as fresh as they day they were baked.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day filled with all the good things Easter has to offer like plenty of family time, chocolate, relaxation and of course, hot cross buns!

Happy Easter everyone!!


Mrs B xx

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Sugar Cookie Cups with Buttercream Frosting

Today Mr B and I headed over to Mum and Dad's for our traditional Good Friday brunch.

A few years ago we decided that rather than buy each other Easter Eggs just for the sake of it we would all take some time out and get together with Nan to catch up and indulge in plenty of hot cross buns, coffee and of course, chocolate!

As usual it was a lovely morning, Mum and Dad always do such a fantastic job on their 'spread' and we were all quite content sitting around the table, bellies full and cheeks sore from laughing.

After lunch Dad took Mr B and I out to the garage where he presented Mr B with a pretty specky gift. The pink helmet is my old bike helmet from when I was a child and has my name hand painted on the back and the little bike is a project for Dad and Mr B to work on together. I can see many late nights in the shed on this one coming up!

Recently I had been eyeing off a recipe for Sugar Cookie Cups and I thought they would be the perfect treat to take along to today's festivities. I was really impressed with how they came out actually, the sugar cookie was soft and chewy and the vanilla buttercream was light and fluffy, not to mention the fact that they were pretty damn cute! It's always a good sign when Dad, Mr B and Nan are all fighting over who gets to keep the leftovers!

Easter Sugar Cookie Cups with Buttercream Frosting - Makes 36

2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tspn bicarb soda
1/2 tspn baking powder
125g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 quantity of basic buttercream (recipe below)
36 mini easter eggs

Preheat oven to 190C and grease a mini muffin tin.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Sift over the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place them in the muffin pan.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon (or similar) to make an indent into each cookie. I placed mine back in the oven for 2 minutes at this stage as they were still abit under cooked, but you can judge for yourself if they need it.

Allow the cookie cups to cool before filling with buttercream and topping with an easter egg.

Basic Buttercream

125g butter, softened
1.5 cups icing sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 tspn milk

Beat the butter using an electric mixer until pale and creamy.

Add the icing sugar, vanilla and milk and beat until light and fluffy. You may need to add 1 more tspn milk to get the correct consistency.

For these sugar cookie cups, I divided the frosting into 3 bowls and tinted each portion a different colour but if you are using little coloured speckled eggs they will look just as effective on white frosting.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vegetarian Country Stew

Don't you hate it when you go to buy one of your favourite products only to find it completely stripped from the shelves and nowhere to be found.

This happened to me a few months ago when I went to buy my beloved Country Hot Pot. Growing up in a vegetarian household, we used to have this Country Hot Pot, which was made by Sanitarium, for dinner quite a bit. To be honest, it was a tinned vegetarian stew that contained lots of cubed vegetables (most of which were unidentifiable) and a soy mince substitute but we all loved it and it was one of those meals that was part of my childhood.

So when I was unable to find it anywhere and our local stockist told me that it was actually no longer being produced, I was at a bit of a loss. I hadn't had the opportunity to stock up on 1000 tins of it or to savour one last plate of it and I was not having it.

The world of Google gave me no love in terms of the ingredients for the original version or any similar recipes so I decided to email the Sanitarium customer feedback section and ask them for the ingredients list from the tin. At this point I believe Mum and Dad thought I was starting to lose my marbles, but it was the memories associated with the dish that were so important to me in re-creating it.

The ingredients list I received from Sanitarium was useful in terms of finally identifying those mystery vegetables, but the simple term 'spices' was not so helpful when it came to the flavourings. Over the last few months I have pondered on this many times and eventually decided that I was over thinking it. It was a simple dish with simple flavours and I WAS going to re-create it.

I decided to use my Mum's Curried Sausages recipe as a starting point in order to get a nice thick sauce and once I had made that decision the whole thing just came together. I was so pleased with the end result, it tasted just how I remember it - but fresher and with visible, identifiable vegetables!

Vegetarian Country Stew - Serves 4

1 x onion diced
1 tbspn butter
2 tspns garlic
2-3 tbspns tomato paste
1 tspn thyme
2 tbspn plain flour
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock
300g baby potatoes (par-boiled)
2 x carrot, finely diced
400g tin Sanitarium Casserole Mince (this is a vegetarian mince substitute)
1 cup peas

In a fry pan over medium high heat, add the onion and butter and cook for 2-3 mins.

Add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 mins.

Add the tomato paste and the thyme and stir to combine.

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the tomato mixture and stir well. Cook for 1-2 mins.

Add the stock, carrot, mince and potatoes to the pan. Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 mins or until your vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. (During this time you may need to add some water. I added roughly 1/2 cup water every 10 mins and allowed the stew to simmer and thicken before adding any more.)

Once your potatoes are tender, stir through the peas.

In our family we have always served this stew over or on the side of chips but you could certainly just serve it on it's own or with some boiled rice.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jigglin' Jelly!

Let's talk dessert.

More specifically dead simple desserts that will take you right back to your childhood and just happen to involve two of my favourite things.....

.....Jelly and Ice Cream!

Both of these desserts were favourites of mine as a child and over the last few weeks Mum and Dad have been re-creating them when Mr B and I have been there for dinner. I have to admit that the first night the Frog in the Pond came out I did squeal a little and even though my belly was full to bursting point I demolished that giant freddo and enjoyed every mouthful!

Frog in a Pond - Serves 4

1 x pkt green or blue jelly
4 x Freddo Frogs
Ice-Cream and Cream to serve

Prepare jelly as per packet directions and divide between 4 x 1 cup capacity ramekins. Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight until set.

To serve top with a freddo frog and a scoop of ice cream.

I have so many fond memories of these Traffic Light Jellies.

Every time my Kinder or Prep had a party and we were expected to bring a plate or I had a birthday party, Mum always made a tray of Traffic Light Jellies and a plate of Fairy Cakes. Part of me wanted to keep them all for myself and part of me was so incredibly proud and just couldn't wait to show everyone what MY Mum had made.

When I was younger I remember peaking in the fridge all the time because I was just mesmerised by the layers in these jellies and it's fair to say that age has certainly not changed that!

Traffic Light Jelly - Serves 8-12

3 tbspns gelatine
3 x pkts jelly (1 x yellow, 1 x green and 1 x red)

Prepare each jelly according to packet directions but use half the amount of boiling water specified. Add 1 tbspn gelatine to each jelly mixture and stir until dissolved.

When the jellies have almost set, gently layer in a slice tin or pyrex dish. Allow to set completely in the fridge prior to cutting into slices.

Perfect sliced up and served on it's own at a kids party and absolutely delicious served for dessert with ice cream.


Mrs B xx

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tim Tam Balls

Recently I experienced a very random event.

I was given a whole heap of un-wanted Tim Tams to 'do something' with.....

I mean what is up with this whole un-wanted Tim Tams thing??

My first thought was to enjoy each and every one of them with a hot chocolate.....have you ever tried biting the opposite corners off your Tim Tam then using it to drink your hot chocolate and then quickly shoving the whole thing in your mouth as it goes all gooey and melty? It is down right delicious and one of my favourite winter indulgences.....but be warned it is slightly messy if you're not quick enough. The first time I tried it I got too carried away sucking my hot chocolate through my Tim Tam and only managed to shove half of it in my mouth while the other half fell into my drink, needless to say Mr B thought it was hilarious and I am now much quicker!

In the end I decided to put the Tim Tams to good use and make something for Mr B's lunches and when it comes to baking with these little babies there is nothing better (or easier) then the classic Tim Tam Balls.

Tim Tam Balls - Makes 10-12

1 x 250g pkt Tim Tams (whichever flavour you prefer)
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
Dessicated coconut to roll

Place the Tim Tams in the bowl of a food processor and process until they are down to fine crumbs.

Add the cream cheese and process until combined. Place the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 mins to firm up.

Roll the mixture into balls (this can get a little messy so keep the sink full of warm water for frequent hand washing!) and then roll each ball in dessicated coconut.

These will keep in the fridge for at least a week, but they are so more-ish there is no way they will last that long!


Mrs B xx

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blueberry and Coconut Muffins

The weather took a turn for the worse this weekend and it has been cold and wet and windy....

Perfect weather for cosying up on the couch with a good book and a giant bowl of pesto covered pasta and whilst I have been doing plenty of that, I also managed to spend some quality time in the kitchen, clean the house and got all dolled up for an engagement party last night.

Over the last few weeks I just haven't felt much like cooking so I was really happy to wake up Saturday morning with the urge to bake. A few hours later I had a bench top full of Blueberry and Coconut Muffins, Tim Tam Balls, Stewed Apples and Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce. The house smelt like baked goods and I felt like I was in desperate need of a nap.....all was right with the world.

Later that evening, after said nap, Mr B and I got ready to head out to our friend's engagement party. It was an engagement party with a twist though because you had to go dressed as a character starting with the letter 'A' and as the invite said 'No costume, no entry fool!' (That was Mr T from the A-Team by the way.....)

Anyway, after MUCH deliberation we had decided to go as Al Capone and Alice in Wonderland (the zombie version).......

We had a great night celebrating with our friends and trying to pick out what all the different costumes were! Plus sometimes it's good to just let your hair down, dress up and have some fun.

Speaking of fun, is it weird that all week I have been looking forward to the weekend so that I could sit down with a hot cup of tea and one of these fresh blueberry and coconut muffins? It hasn't happened yet, but I'm telling you it is going to.....they smell divine!

Blueberry and Coconut Muffins

2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 tspn coconut essence (optional)
1/2 tspn vanilla essence (optional)
125g butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk (or substitute 1/2 cup full cream milk + 1 tspn lemon juice)
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 180°C and line 15 muffin pans with paper cases.

Combine the flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Add the butter, buttermilk, coconut essence, vanilla essence and egg, and stir until just combined.

Gently stir in the blueberries. Don't overmix the batter or you will end up with tough purple muffins. The batter will be really thick at this stage but that's ok.

Spoon among the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Set aside in the pans for 15 minutes to cool slightly before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lemon Quinoa with Seasonal Veggies

Wow where is the time going?!

Life seems to have kicked up a gear at the moment and not only are Mr B and I super busy but of an evening we are completely buggered so we have been relying on old faithful's like lasagne, curried sausages and the occasional indulgence in chip sandwiches......

The unfortunate issue with that is that I just don't have that much to tell you about at the moment.....

Luckily whilst flicking through the camera, willing some photos of an un-posted recipe to show up.....they did!

I completely forgot about this Lemon Quinoa and Seasonal Veggie Salad, goodness knows how because it is one of my favourites!

This is a really lovely salad with lots of fresh flavours and can easily be adapted depending on what's in season at the time. Also if you are worried about this maybe not being 'man friendly' it makes a beautiful side dish when served with lamb or veal.

Lemon Quinoa with Seasonal Veggies - Serves 2

200g sliced button mushrooms
2 red onions, quartered
2 whole garlic cloves
4 carrots, peeled, chopped into chunks
4 zucchini, thickly sliced
250g cherry tomaotes
olive oil
250g pkt 90 second brown rice and quinoa
420g can chickpeas, drained
Garlic sauce (optional)

 Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place veggies in tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Cook brown rice and quinoa as per packet directions.

Toss quinoa through the veggies and serve with garlic sauce.


Mrs B xx


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