Pennsylvania Travel Diary

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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

Figs three ways

Could there be a more perfect fruit than the fig? They are beautiful to look at and contain the perfect combination of textures with soft sweet flesh and the slight crunch of tiny seeds. After recently buying a tray of figs I was inspired to prepare them in a few different ways. Only a few ingredients are needed to make something really tasty, and figs work really well in both sweet and savoury combinations.

 

figs with yoghurt and honey

figs with yoghurt and honey

Natural yoghurt topped with a few figs, crushed hazelnuts and a drizzle of honey. This is a beautifully simple combination to throw together for breakfast or dessert.

 

prosciutto wrapped figs

prosciutto wrapped figs

Figs stuffed with Meredith goats cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Make a small cut in the base of the figs and fill with a spoonful of goats cheese, then wrap with a slice of prosciutto. Place on a tray under the grill to allow the prosciutto to crisp up slightly and for the cheese to get warm and soft. Serve straight away with a little balsamic vinegar. An awesome sweet and salty combination.

 

fig, prosciutto and goats cheese salad

fig, prosciutto and goats cheese salad

Fig, prosciutto and goats cheese salad. Build the salad by layering baby spinach leaves, fig halves and prosciutto slices – I like to wind the prosciutto slices into rosette-like shapes. Crumble goats cheese over the top, together with hazelnuts and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
All my original recipes can be found here.

Cheap Thrills: Fresh fruit

The best things in life are free…Love don’t cost a thing…Mo money, mo problems…Can’t buy me love…I’m sharing my favourite budget-friendly-under-$10 discoveries each week. Cheap thrills.

Figs

As someone who has only ever lived in cities, there are some fairly ordinary aspects of country and small town life that I am easily excited by. Like seeing the night sky filled with stars, not sharing a wall with your neighbours, and the roadside fruit and vegetable stand. Refreshingly, a hand painted sign touting the type and price of produce on offer is all the marketing needed to get people to pull over to the side of the road and purchase. And for me, during my recent trip to the Southern Highlands, a tray of figs for $2.99 was just irresistible. Just look at how beautiful they are! I’ll post recipes featuring these figs later in the week.