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Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, the hot cross bun is a small sweet yeasted bread roll marked with a cross on top. It is usually baked in batches and flavored with spices like cinnamon and cloves as well as mixture of raisins, currants and dried or candied fruit. The cross on top is traditionally piped using a batter made of flour and water but the recipe, from Bon Appétit Magazine, marks the buns with thick sugar paste after baking. The glaze gives an attractive, shiny bakery-style finish. I did not bother with this as I did not have any apricot jam on hand and felt that the buns could do very well without the added stickiness. The sweet aroma of spices and baked bread that wafts through your kitchen as soon as you take them out of the oven really draws one into the mood for Easter celebrations, way more so if you need some extra energy before going on the hunt for chocolate eggs and bunnies. Happy Easter, dear readers!

HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons honey or golden syrup

1 cup plus 4 teaspoons whole milk, warmed

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Method:

  • Whisk yeast, honey, and 1 cup milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, butter a large mixing bowl and a 13-inch x 9-inch rectangular baking dish, set them aside.

  • Whisk egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, oil, zests, and vanilla into mixture. Add cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Add 3 1/2 cups flour, beat with dough hook on low speed until mixture starts to form a shaggy dough.

  • Add the salt and beat on medium until dough forms a ball around the hook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Continue beating until dough is smooth and slightly tacky about 5 minutes more. Add 1/2 cup butter.

  • Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing dough to absorb each piece before adding the next piece.
  • Beat until dough is supple, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean surface.

  • Knead to incorporate remaining 2 tablespoons flour till dough is very supple and tacky but not sticky.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic. Sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

  • Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and pat down to 1/2″ thick. Scatter dried fruit over surface.
  • Roll up into a log, starting at the end nearest you. Divide into 12 equal pieces, a little less than 3½ oz.

  • Roll each piece into a smooth ball and arrange in prepared baking dish, spacing equally in a 4×3 grid.
  • Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm place till they are nearly doubled in size for 30 to 40 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush it over tops of buns.
  • Bake buns until tops and bottoms are deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan.

  • Brush jam onto warm buns, then let it cool until set. Whisk the powdered sugar and remaining milk.
  • Whisk it until smooth and transfer to a pastry bag or plastic bag. Cut a small opening in one corner.

  • Pipe crosses over each bun. Let sit till icing is set, at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 12 buns.
  • Dough, without fruit, can be made one day ahead. Let rise at room temperature, then cover and chill.

Happy Easter folks!

Hello folks! Hope you’ve all had a happy and delicious Easter Sunday with loads of special dishes on your brunch table. Though Easter meals are a rather grand feast on their own with carefully planned courses including standard stuff like hot cross buns, kids and grown ups both get way more excited over the fun of Easter egg hunting. While everyone else must have been running around to collect chocolate eggs and candies hidden around their homes and gardens, I sat back to enjoy my all-time favorite Cadbury Crème which brings back fond childhood memories. Because my Cadbury egg is [definitely] not meant for sharing, I had to bake something for the rest of the family. This yummy chocolate and almond cake, from Taste.com.au, with its little nest of chocolate curls and mini Kinder Eggs was again ‘too cute to be shared’ but then I had to get over my guilt feeling of going over the top with all that chocolate.

EASTER CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Cake

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

125g unsalted butter, softened

4 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup almond meal, toasted

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons coffee granules

1 tablespoon boiling hot water

For the Chocolate Icing & Topping

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

50g unsalted butter, room temperature

100g white cooking chocolate, melted

100g milk cooking chocolate, melted

Mini Easter eggs, to decorate

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line base and side of a 20cm base measurement round cake pan.
  • Combine sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.

  • Add hot melted butter to sugar mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time.
  • Stir in coffee, hot water, almond meal and flour until combined. Spoon mixture into pan and level.

  • Bake for 45 minutes until edges are firm to touch and centre is moist. Cool cake completely in pan.
  • To make shards, spread white and milk chocolate separately over base of 2 baking trays, 1 cm thick.

  • Allow to set firm. Carefully run knife at an angle down the length of chocolate to form curly shards.
  • Make the icing by melting the chocolate and the butter together in a small saucepan over low heat.

  • Cool in pan for 4-5 minutes then spread over top of cooled cake. Leave the icing to cool completely.
  • Carefully pile the chocolate curls at centre of cake to form nest and place mini Easter eggs in nest.

Happy Easter Holidays!

ITALIAN EASTER BREAD

Ingredients:

For the Bread Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons whole milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 orange, zested & juiced

1 sachet instant yeast

1/2 cup margarine, melted

2 eggs, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Sugar Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon whole milk

Coloured sprinkles

Method:

  • Place flour in a large mixing bowl. Heat milk in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • It should not be too hot. While the milk is warming, place sugar in a small bowl. Add the orange zest.
  • With your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until completely incorporated and sugar is moistened.

  • Once milk reaches the correct temperature, stir in sugar and zest mixture, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Add yeast, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes until it turns frothy. Add milk and yeast mixture to the flour.
  • Mix everything into a dough (it will be shaggy). Next, add melted margarine and orange juice and mix.

  • In a small bowl, use a fork to lightly beat together the eggs, salt, and anise oil. Add this to the dough.
  • Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic. It will remain slightly tacky.
  • Place the dough in an oiled medium bowl, turning to coat, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.

  • Allow to rise till doubled in volume for 1 hour. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide in two pieces, then divide each half into two pieces.
  • Roll two dough pieces into 24-inch long ropes. Loosely twist them together. Transfer to a baking sheet.

  • Bring ends of the braided loaf together to form a ring, twisting and pinching the ends together to seal.
  • Repeat the same with the remaining two pieces of dough so that you have two circular, braided loaves.
  • Brush with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  • While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Prepare glaze in the meanwhile.
  • For the glaze, whisk together sugar and milk, adding more if necessary to reach the desired consistency.

  • Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze onto the top and sides of the bread, and decorate with sprinkles.
  • The bread is best served at room temperature. Wrap well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  • Bread keeps for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Yields 2 large loaves or 4 medium-sized loaves.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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PrerrnaMirchi
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