Bon voyage

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Today I’m leaving for 3 months of travel across the USA and Europe. Excitement overload. To begin with I’ll be heading to LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon over the next couple of weeks – so if you have any tips of things to see, places to go, or what to eat – let me know in the comments!

I hope to keep posting here as regularly as I can – pending access to wifi and how much time I’m prepared to spend online! But first a small matter of a 14 hour flight…

(pic from Pinterest)

Hot cross buns

hot cross buns

Daylight savings ended in Australia on Sunday and with that extra hour I decided to try making my own hot cross buns. Never having attempted these before, I used this recipe – but omitted the orange peel as I’m not a huge fan of it. I was so happy with the results – they rose so well and were soft and fluffy. And photogenic too! Although they take a long time to prepare, the recipe itself is relatively simple and the time it took was absolutely worth it for the results! Not only were they totally delicious and enjoyed by everyone at home, but it’s been a while since I’ve baked anything and I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy the whole process. The catharsis of kneading the dough, the amazing smell through the house as they baked, and the extreme satisfaction derived from that I-made-it-myself-feeling made it a very enjoyable way to spend a weekend morning! It’s a bit of a departure from the healthy recipes I’ve been posting so far, but hot cross buns are one of my favourite things about Easter!

hot cross buns

Make sure you have plenty of time to bake your hot cross buns – you need to knead the dough for 10 minutes, then leave to rise for 40 minutes, then separate into individual buns and then leave to rise for a further 40 minutes, plus 20 minutes of cooking time!

hot cross buns

I haven’t baked with yeast very often, so I had to google what the recipe meant by knocking back the dough. To my delight, it meant that I got to punch the big fluffy ball of dough once it had risen to let the extra air out. Great feeling!

hot cross buns

hot cross buns

Making the crosses was surprisingly easy. The cross is made of a mixture of 2 parts flour and 1 part water which is then piped along the rows of nuns in both directions. In place of a piping bag with a fine nozzle as the recipe suggests, I simply spooned the mixture into a glad bag and cut off a tiny corner of the bag. The piping requires a steady hand and a little bit of patience – so just take your time to make sure the crosses are as straight as possible.

hot cross buns

The beautiful shiny finish is a result of glazing after the buns have been cooked. Serve warm with butter. And a cup of tea!

hot cross buns

Parlez-vous français?

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Over 10 years ago I studied French at high school and this year I decided to pick it back up again. French was definitely not my strongest subject back then, and most of my memories of French lessons while at school involve my classmates and I successfully persuading our teachers to let us watch French films instead of conjugating verbs. When I travelled to Paris for the first (and only time) a few years ago, I was very self conscious of my Australian accent and my limited vocabulary to attempt speaking much French.

I decided to enrol in French lessons at the start of the year to see what I might remember from all those years ago and a bit build a bit of confidence for when I travel to Paris again mid-year. I’ve really enjoyed taking these lessons and there’s something very fulfilling and pleasurable about learning something just because you want to – not because you’re studying toward an exam or qualification. I still have a long way to go with my French, however this time when I go to Paris I plan to just jump in and try speaking. I’ll probably still feel very self conscious about doing so, but to get better I’ve just got to practice and learn from making a few mistakes along the way.

P.S. if you’re a Francophile you must follow @frenchwords on Instagram – c’est formidable!