Hot cross buns no. 2

I bake a lot, much more than the average person it would seem. I bake more than the average household should or even could eat, so what do I do with all this baking? Mainly I take it to work to share with my colleagues. It’s not that I want to load them up with butter and sugar or use them as test guinea pigs for my baking (well not all the time), it’s also the fact that there is something nice about bringing home baked goods, a way of saying thanks for putting up with my constant talking, my lack of attention to detail at times. I also particularly like the fact it makes people stop what they are doing and come to our work tea room and acquire some baking treat, and thus converse with their colleagues over non work stuff. If I ever own my own company I’m totally having daily morning teas and work kitchen fully stocked with baking supplies and a workplace cat, heated throw rugs, nanna naps… ok now I’m digressing.

But this like of sharing my baking with my colleagues is probably why I chose this recipe as recipe no. 2 in my great quest to bake the perfect soft hot cross buns (see here for history of the quest). It’s by Nigella, but she does the first lot of proving in the fridge overnight. This meant instead of getting up at like 4:30am to whip up a batch of hot cross buns to take to work I could start it the night before, take it out in the morning, shape it, prove it in the car on way to work, then bake at work. Which is what I did. And yet again the result whilst good wasn’t quite soft or fluffy enough

Let’s make hot cross buns (again)

There were whole spices and orange zest

Which then infused milk and melted butter

Of course there was yeast, more spices and fancy bread flour

and of course sultantas

kneaded by my fabulous dough hook

left to rise overnight in the fridge

And be shaped the next morning

And baked at work (because every respectable workplace should have an oven)

Hot cross buns – recipe adapted from Nigella Kitchen


150ml milk

50g butter

Zest of 1 orange

1 clove

2 cardamom pods

400g bread flour

2 teaspoon yeast

125g mixed dried fruit (I used just sultanas because that’s all I had)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 egg


1 egg, beaten with a little milk


3 tablespoons plain flour

½ tablespoon caster sugar

2 tablespoons water


1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon boiling water

Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove and cardamom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts, then leave to infuse (or cool as I over heated mine, you probably want it to be about blood temp when you add it to the dry ingredients)

Put the flour, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices. When the milk is suitably infused and has reached blood temperature take out the clove and cardamom pods, and beat in the egg. Pour this liquid into dry ingredients.

Knead with a dough hook (or by hand if you don’t have a mixer with dough hook) if it is too dry add a little more warm milk or water. Keep kneading until you have silky, elastic dough

Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl covered with clingfilm, and leave to prove overnight in the fridge. You could leave it in a warm place to double for about 1- 1 1/2 hours instead of popping it in the fridge, but Nigella advises the flavour is better is you leave it to rise overnight in the fridge, plus it’s all ready to go in the morning when you wake up.

The next morning preheat oven to 220C. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

Punch the dough down, and knead it again until it is smooth and elastic. Divide into even sized balls and shape into buns.

Sit the buns on a baking paper. Make sure they are quite close together but not touching. Using the back of a knife, score the tops of the buns with the imprint of a cross (good luck with this I always mangle the damn buns attempting this). Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove again for about 45 minutes – they should have risen and almost joined up.

Brush the buns with an egg wash, and then mix the flour, sugar and water into a smooth, thick paste. Using a teaspoon, dribble two lines over the buns in the indent of the cross, and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

When the hot cross buns come out of the oven, mix the sugar and boiling water together for the glaze, and brush each hot bun to make them sweet and shiny.

Enjoy fresh from oven with real proper butter<!–


Hot Cross Buns No. 1

Every year I give homemade hot cross buns a crack.  I don’t know why I mean it’s not like the moment the supermarkets open their doors after Easter they are hard to get.  And quite frankly I rather like the supermarket ones (yeah I’ll confess to buying them way before Easter). They’re all soft and fruity and spicy.

And this I suspect is why I make them every year as I can never get them as soft or fluffy as they do in the supermarkets. It’s like the challenge of trying to get them soft is why I cook them. I usually just pick a recipe at random and make it and though its tasty it’s never soft or fluffy and that’s that. 

But this year I was contacted by my friend Hannah who asked me how to get soft and fluffy hot cross buns.  Clearly my copious baking had tricked her into thinking I was some kind of expert. She provided me with her recipe and the only change I could suggest was to use bread flour.

It all started some sort of obsessive quest to bake the perfect soft fluffy hot cross buns.  Ok the supermarkets have the advantage of preservative and other unpronounacle ingredients but surely the average home cook could make soft and fluffy hot cross buns

So I’ve set myself the challenge of making 3 different hot cross bun recipes.  This one is the first. 

It’s the recipe my friend Hannah asked for my advice on.   I accidently left out the sugar and omitted the crosses, but overall they still turned out pretty good, but alas not soft and fluffy. 

let’s make hot cross buns

There was fancy bread flour mixed with spices

And some sifting

butter and milk melted together

then together with sultanas mixed up into dough

then left to rise

and baked and glazed

Hot Cross Buns –  recipe adapted from SBS food

 teaspoons dried instant yeast
500g bread flour
90g sugar
300mls milk
1tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground all spice
¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
60g butter
1 large egg
140g sultanas

Crosses (if you choose to make them)
2 Tablespoons self raising flour
2 Tablespoons cold water

4 Tablespoons of sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
150mls boiling water

Sift together flour, spices, salt and yeast

In a saucepan heat the milk over a low heat and melt the butter into it.

In a separate bowl beat the egg.

Add the milk and butter mixture to the flour and mix . Add the egg and mix well to form a dough.  I used the dough hook on my mixer to do this

Add Sultanas

Knead with dough hook in mixer (or by hand) until it feels smooth and is no longer sticky (approx 3 mins).

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to prove until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Punch the dough down and then separate it into equal portion ( it doesn’t matter the size as long as they are about the same size as each other)s.

Place the buns close together on a lightly greased baking tray.

Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (approx an hour).

For the crosses: Mix the flour and water thoroughly to form a thick paste. Spoon into a zip-lock bag, cut a little hole out of the corner of the bag and use it to pipe the mixture in crosses on top of the buns.

Bake the topped buns at 220°C for 15-20mins.

For the glaze: Mix together all ingredients, dissolving the sugar in the boiling water. Brush over the buns lightly while still hot.

Enjoy Fresh and hot from oven with real proper butter

Haloumi Cheese

Most of my friends and co-workers know I make cheese.  I’m the only person I know that does, which either makes this fact interesting or  makes me seem weird.

I only make simple pretty basic fresh cheese, feta, cream cheese and haloumi cheese.  Maybe one day I’ll move on to brie or camembert, but I don’t eat them and they are a bit more fiddly to make. 

How did I come to make cheese?  I spotted a homemaking cheese book  in the library, it all looked interesting enough but it seemed tricky and used ingredients not exactly available at the supermarket.  So the book was returned to the library and the idea kind of floated away from my head.  however not from my husband’s head.  He had visions of making his own brie and found a Australian web site selling home cheese making supplies and for Christmas that year he insisted on a cheese making kit.  Said kit duly arrived and he made one cheese (quark) as he found it all daunting.

Rather than let the kit go to waste I thought we should get some professional cheese making advice and booked into Udder Delights cheese making workshop.  We learnt to make fetta and cream cheese and learnt all about the types of cheese.  I’d highly recommend it.

After the workshop I kept up making the fetta and cream cheese and mastered haloumi all by myself.

People are always amazed I make my own cheese, but it’s really easy

Let’s make Haloumi

There is fancy old fashioned milk with cream at the top

heating it to specific temperatures

adding rennet

getting curds and whey (a la little miss muffet)

draining the curds

and frying the Haloumi (yum)

Haloumi cheese – adapted from Home Cheesemaking Neil and Carole Willman

3 litres of unhomogenized milk

.7ml rennet (yes it .7 not 7 but this may change depending on the strength of you rennet)

cooled boiled water

500mls boiling water

100g salt

Disolve salt into  boiling water to make brine – set aside

heat the milk to between 32-34c

mix your rennet with 10 mls of cooled boiled water, add to milk and stir for about 30 seconds

This is where it’s a bit tricky, you have to maintain the setting temperature but can’t take the milk out of the pot.  I do it by putting pot into esky.  However you do it you have to leave it with temp maintained for 40 mins.

Cut the curd into 20-40mm cubes

Put  pot back on stove and over 20 mins heat to 40c (sometimes this happens quicker it doesn’t seem to effect the end result).

Take curd our and put into chux cloth lined cheese hoops which are sitting on a rack over a bowl.  Leave for 2 hours-overnight until the curd is firm (you want the curd to knit together)

Do not throw away the whey left in pot or in bowl

Bring whey to boil

Cut cheese into  blocks 50 x 100 x 150 mm. Add them to whey.  Simmer until they float – approx. 30 mins.  Once floating leave another 15 mins then remove and drain on racks.

After 30 mins put the cheese into brine solution for 30 mins, then drain on rack for 1 hour.

Now it’s ready to use.  I think the best way is fried and served with some fresh squeezed lemon juice .

Sweet and Salty Nutty Chocolate slice

I made this recipe after I saw it on Nigella’s Kitchen.  I’ve been a bit late to come to the whole chocolate sweet and salty chocolate party but since discovering this flavour combination I can’t seem to get enough and this slice is a really combination of the lovely sweetness of chocolate mixed with the saltiness of nuts.  Plus it’s got a ton of butter so it must be good.

So let’s make sweet and salty nutty chocolate slice

Of course we need chocolate

and nuts

and loads of butter

golden syrup

and honeycomb bars

Sweet and Salty Nutty chocolate Slice – adapted from Nigella Kitchen

300g chocolate (this can be all dark, all milk or a mix, I prefer 150g dark and 150 g milk)
125g unsalted butter
1  tbsp golden syrup
250g salted peanuts
2 x 80g Crunchie bars (this can be varied successfully if you forgot to buy the right quantity)

Line a slice tray 16cm x 26cm with foil

roughly chop nuts and crumble up crunchy bars

break chocolate up and add to saucepan with butter and golden syrup.  melt over a low heat

Once melted stir in peanuts and crumbled crunchy bars

Pour into slice tin, refrigerate for 4 hours or preferably overnight

Once hardened slice up.  and store in air tight container in fridge.  I’m unsure how long this would keep for because it goes so quickly in our house and if you make it it won’t last long at your house either I’d guess.

Buttermilk Pancakes

I’ve been making pancakes nearly every Saturday since my husband and I bought our house nearly 11 years ago.  It wasn’t like we decided that this would be some sort of tradition, just that we both liked pancakes and we had plenty of time on Saturday mornings and it sort of became a ritual.

Fast forward nearly 11 years and now with 2 kids Saturday mornings are often hectic but we still find time to make pancakes, and I can report our love of pancakes has been passed on to our children who seem to be able to inhale  ridiculous amounts of pancakes. 

Over the years we have tried several different recipes which have been good but this recipe we think is the best, and every time I suggest something different Lucas looks at me like I’m a crazy lady.  It makes fluffy light pancakes (kinda hot cake style), best served with homemade vanilla syrup

So lets make pancakes


There’s flour, mixed with sugar and bi carb


And eggs mixed with butter milk

Then wet plus dry are whisked together

Fried in our perfect pancake size pan with butter (some people suggest frying them with no butter or oil, but it’s never worked for me)

Drizzle with “once you taste it you’ll never go back to maple syrup” homemade vanilla syrup

Buttermilk Pancakes (makes a lot)

Recipe adapted from Julie Goodwins Our Family Table

2 Cups self raising flour

½ teaspoon bi carb

½ cup sugar

2 ½ cups buttermilk

2 eggs

Mix self raising flour, bi carb and sugar together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix whisk together eggs and butter milk.

Add egg/buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients.  Mix until it’s all incorporated and there are no lumps, but don’t over mix otherwise you’ll get tough pancakes.  Sometimes the batter seems a bit thick so I thin it with a little bit of water, you want the consistency similar to cake batter.

Melt a small piece of butter in a pan, then add batter to pan. How much you add will depend don how big your pan is how big  or thick a pancake you want.  Once bubbles start to appear its time to turn the pancake.  Cook for another minute or until cooked through.

Repeat with remaining mixture

Homemade vanilla syrup

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can use vanilla essence if the budget doesn’t stretch this far)

Mix sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat till sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat add vanilla extract

Store in fridge