Spelt Hot Cross Buns, Spelled Delicious

Hot Cross Buns

Spelt Hot Cross Buns

You may laugh. I certainly did. Would you believe, after playing around for the past week on what I assumed would be my new and improved hot cross bun recipe, I finally decided to refer to a post written a good number of years ago, only to discover that the new recipe, is almost identical to my old recipe! Quite the coincidence, considering I started the most recent one, completely from scratch.

The differences are mostly minimal; I believe the ratios are roughly the same, but even so, I feel it warrants a new post. Also it gives me an excuse to update my blog, after what seems like an eternity of silence. Somehow over time, I’ve managed to bake more and travel more, but blog less. So here’s my attempt at readdressing this imbalance (three dozen hot cross buns later…).

A few things to note about the recipe below. I bake mostly with spelt flour at the moment, so this recipe calls for spelt, though I’m sure it works just as well with plain flour. The roux method (also known as the tangzhong method) is great for bread baking when you want the end result to be very soft and fluffy. It’s truly well worth the effort of those few extra steps. And if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to experiment with different glaze flavourings. Coffee or cola, anyone?

Hot Cross Buns

Spelt Hot Cross Buns :
(makes 12)

For the roux :
30g spelt flour
125g water

For the final dough :
All of the roux above
150g cold milk
2 teaspoons dried yeast (1 sachet)
1 large egg
400g spelt flour
45g sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
120g dried fruit of your choice (raisins, sultanas, cranberries etc)
1.5 teaspoons ground spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger etc)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
40g soft unsalted butter

For the glaze :
35g brown sugar
40g water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the roux, combine the spelt flour and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens and reaches a temperature of 65’C. Remove from the stove and scrape this into the bowl of your electric mixer. Mix in the cold milk. The resulting mixture should be at a barely-warm temperature. Stir in the dried yeast and allow to sit for a few minutes until it starts to bubble a little. Add the egg, followed by the flour, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, dried fruit and unsalted butter. Knead this on a low speed until the dough comes together and looks smooth (about 5-6 minutes). Cover and allow to prove for an hour or until doubled.

Transfer the dough onto your kitchen bench. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, each weighing 75-80g. Ball each piece and place them 1.5 inches apart on a lined baking tray. Cover with greased cling film and allow to prove until almost doubled in size (should take another hour).

Before baking, make the cross paste out of flour, water and a pinch of sugar. The paste should be wet enough to pipe, but not runny. To bake the buns, brush them lightly with extra beaten egg, then pipe the crosses and bake in a preheated 190’C oven for 13-14 mins, rotating the tray half way through. If they sound hollow when tapped, then they’re done.

While the buns are baking, prepare the glaze by bringing all the ingredients to a boil (to dissolve the sugar) and setting aside. When you take the buns out of the oven, brush them with the warm glaze and allow to cool.

Tips :
-The amount of dried fruit and spices you add to the dough is up to personal preference.
-Omit the crosses if you dislike them.

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Springing into new things : Raw, vegan, gluten-free baking

Raw and Vegan Carrot Cake

(Raw and Vegan Carrot Cake)

Nobody panic, I haven’t actually turned my baking blog into the polar opposite of everything that has been posted here for the past couple of years. Well, not permanently anyway.

My initial foray into raw sweets occurred some time ago, and involved blitzing a mere handful of ingredients together to form raw brownie bites. First thought? “Holy crap, brownies in 5 minutes or under!” (They were delicious, and I’d link to the recipe here, but unfortunately the blog doesn’t seem to exist anymore).

Raw and Vegan Carrot Cake

Then I learned about coconut oil, and sadly discovered that I didn’t really like it all that much (but thankfully not quite in the same way as when coriander tastes like death and soap to some people). That put me off delving further into the wider world of raw desserts. Meanwhile, life went on. I pretty much spent the past year baking 8 hours a day as part of my job. Now that I’m free again, and still feeling excited about trying new things (or maybe hayfever season is muddling my brain), it seems the perfect time to test out a few raw, vegan sweet recipes. Along the way, I managed to pick up a few tips :

-Firstly, you really need a high powered blender to ensure the smoothest, creamiest end result, otherwise the overall texture of your frostings or caramel will be slightly off kilter.
-Many recipes rely on coconut oil, and it often ends up being the dominant flavour in the dessert. Use the best oil you can get, because it will definitely matter.
-As is the case with coconut oil, use the best vanilla extract you can get.
-Lastly, dessert is still dessert, regardless of whether it’s raw/vegan or not. Eat in moderation, but enjoy every bite! :)

Raw and Vegan Chocolate Ganache Cake

(Raw and Vegan Chocolate Ganache Cake)

Raw and Vegan Caramel Slice

(Raw and Vegan Caramel Slice)

Raw, Vegan and Gluten-Free Caramel Slice :
(this recipe is for a 3.5″ x 7.5″ frame and yields 8 thin slices; adjust quantities to suit your baking tin)

For the base layer :
25g pitted dates
110g whole unblanched almonds
pinch of sea salt

Blend all three ingredients together until the mixture looks ‘wet’. Press mixture into the base of a lined 3.5″ x 7.5″ frame. Leave in freezer while you make the caramel layer.

For the caramel layer :
65g cashew butter
70g tahini
165g maple syrup
55g melted coconut oil
10g vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour on top of the base layer and freeze until firm. 30-60 minutes.

For the chocolate layer :
15g raw cocoa powder
25g maple syrup
35g melted coconut oil
5g vanilla extract

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the caramel layer and freeze until firm.

When ready to serve, unmould the caramel slice and cut with a hot knife. Decorate each slice with a few flakes of sea salt and some cocoa nibs. Any leftovers can be stored covered, in the fridge.

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Humble crumble

Apple and Strawberry Crumble2

(Apple and strawberry crumble)

Crumbles. Well, everyone’s made them at some stage of their baking pursuits. My favourite has usually been cinnamon apple, most certainly with an oat based topping, and definitely served alongside vanilla ice-cream.

Nothing much has changed over the years, although I’m growing to really love apple and strawberry as a combination (but still have a strange aversion to the very popular flavour duo of strawberry and banana, as seen in many yoghurts and smoothies). Since the climate here in Australia is so varied, we currently have local apples in season, as well as strawberries from further north, where the warm Winter weather is perfect for growing them.

My tip for making crumbles is : Don’t peel the apples. There is plenty of flavour (and dare I say it, .. nutrients) in the skins and it softens as it cooks to the point where you don’t notice the skins are present in the final dish. My other tip is, make more than you think you need, because it reheats beautifully and I’m pretty sure “too much crumble” has never been a documented malady. Ever.

Apple and strawberry crumble :

As many apples (green, or a combination of red and green apples) and strawberries as you like (6 apples and 1 punnet of strawberries will comfortably feed 4-5 people)

Wash the fruit. Core the apples and chop them to a rough 2cm dice. Gently cook the chopped apples in the juice of half a lemon, a few tablespoons of caster sugar and a splash of water. When the apples are tender, toss in the hulled berries and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Transfer the fruit into a baking dish, cover generously with crumble and bake in a 175’C preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the fruit is bubbling away at the edges, and the crumbled topping is golden.

For the cinnamon oat crumble topping :

120g plain flour
60g butter
60g brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
30g rolled oats

Combine all the ingredients together, rubbing the butter in until it resembles bread crumbs. Set aside until required.

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