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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!

Envi ene bon ti salade melanz? While the average Mauritian is not a huge fruit eater, he/she will hardly ever say no to a freshly prepared fruit salad topped with tamarind sauce and disel pima/ chili salt. A colourful meli-melo of tropical fruits including mangoes and pineapple, our traditional fruit salad is not a homemade entity but derives its popularity from the road side sellers who usually extend their fares to markets and beaches on Sundays and holidays.

It will not be an uncommon sight if you come across one today on our crowded public beaches, which are always so on the eve and the day of a public holiday. And as we are celebrating our Independence Day today, there is, I’m sure, no better occasion to do a post on something we can proudly call as our ‘national’ salad. As the official celebrations unfold this afternoon in Champ de Mars in the attendance of eminent personalities, many will undoubtedly gather in more informal surroundings with the same feeling of being fier d’etre mauricien/ proud to be a Mauritian.

MAURITIAN FRUIT SALAD

Ingredients:

2 semi ripe mangoes

1 medium pineapple

1 small cucumber

10 jamalacs/ love apples

1 carambole/ star fruit

2-3 dried red chilies

1 teaspoon kitchen salt

3 tablespoons tamarind

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Method:

  • Peel mangoes, pineapple and cucumber. Cut each fruit into bite size pieces or chop into thick slices.

  • Cut the jamalacs into halves and slice the carambole thinly. Place all chopped fruit in a large bowl.

  • Crush the dried chilies and salt together in a grinder or in a mortar until it turns into a fine powder.

  • Remove any seeds from the tamarind and soak the pulp in 2 tablespoons warm water for 5 minutes.

  • Combine the tamarind pulp with 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Add more water and grind together.

  • It should form a sauce of slow dripping consistency. Toss this dressing over the bowl of fruit salad.

  • Mix till well combined and leave to stand at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.

  • Top with extra tamarind and serve in plastic cups along with extra salt and chili powder. Serves 4.

Mauritian Fruit Salad

These must be the best madeleines I must have baked till date with a perfect light and airy texture and a gorgeous nutty hint of browned butter I had almost forgotten. The acquisition of a new madeleine pan for Christmas was purely accidental; I could not resist buying one after setting eyes on the matte black tray in Super U. To test my brand new bake ware, there was no more persuasive recipe than these Christmas-inspired cakes, flavored with gingerbread spices, from the Kitchy Kitchen. My first batch got hopelessly stuck to the ungreased pan though it ended up as a delicious crumb topping over vanilla flecked ice cream and crème Chantilly as my impromptu Christmas lunch dessert. The second try yielded far better results after I went a bit more cautious and coated the pan with a liberal amount of baking spray but I decided against dipping them in the molasses glaze, favoring a dusting of icing sugar for the final look.

GINGERBREAD MADELEINES

Ingredients:

9 tablespoons browned butter

2 large eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup white granulated sugar

1 large pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoons ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the Molasses Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

3 tablespoons whole milk

Method:

  • Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess.

  • Place in the fridge. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), whip the eggs.

  • Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat well for 5 minutes until the mixture turns pale and thickened.

  • Whisk together the flour, spices, and baking powder and carefully fold in flour with rubber spatula.

  • Drizzle browned butter into the batter, little at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate.

  • Fold until all the butter is incorporated. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Meanwhile make the glaze by mixing all ingredients until smooth.

  • Plop enough batter in the center of each mold to fill it by three quarter full but do not spread batter.

  • Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until cakes just feel set, they should bounce back when pressed with finger.

  • Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. Cool it to room temperature.

  • When they are cool enough to handle, dip each into glaze, turning over so that both sides are coated.

  • Scrape off any excess and rest them on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the glaze firms up.

If you have a liking for sweet spices, I have a feeling you might get seriously hitched to this lightly spiced milkshake from Delicious, which blends cinnamon and ginger into a refreshing ice-cold beverage they have rightly named as ‘gingerbread milkshake’. My biscuit crumbs unfortunately did not hold up well against the glass rims as I was far too impatient to wait for the decorative edge to set in the fridge before I could fill them up with thick, creamy shake full of festive flavors. As we hit the full blast of summer heat this December, this would be my drink of choice to slurp over on a lazy afternoon as I wrap gifts and hampers for others to discover under the Christmas tree.

GINGERBREAD MILKSHAKE

10 ginger thin biscuits

1/4 cup (90g) honey

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

1L (4 cups) whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons golden syrup

Cinnamon quills, to serve

Method:

  • Whiz the ginger biscuits to fine crumbs in food processor, then transfer the crumbs to a plate.
  • Place the honey on a separate plate. Dip the rim of 4 serving glasses in honey, then in crumbs.

  • Chill to firm up. Place remaining ingredients, except cinnamon quills, in a blender and blend.
  • Blend till smooth and pour into glasses. Decorate with cinnamon quills and serve immediately.

Gingerbread Milkshake

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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