Hot Cross Buns are a tradition my husband and I grew up with in Australia. The buns are sold by the dozen in Australian supermarkets leading up to Easter, and eating them at Easter was a part of our childhood culture. Hot cross buns are delicious and I wanted them to be a part of our daughters Easter traditions even though we are not in Australia anymore. When we moved to America I had to search to find them and so started baking them myself. I have noticed that Wholefoods are now selling a sweet cross buns, but not the sort we are used to with the crosses baked into them. I really like the traditional bun and I have been making them once a week since lent. It is said that a hot cross bun baked on good Friday will last the whole year without going bad…hot cross buns baked on good friday bring good luck.
I searched high and low for a recipe that looked just right. I found one in the most obvious place – from the (Australian) Country Women’s Association. For the past three years I have been using the CWA Hot Cross Bun recipe. I am really happy with it. The smell of them baking is heartwarming, and to eat them hot out of the oven with butter and honey is delicious!
I follow the recipe exactly, except for the gelatin glaze – I omit the gelatin because we are vegetarian and make the glaze from just boiled sugar and water and it works perfectly. I also use raisin/sultanas if I do not have currents. I seem to let mine cook a little longer too. About 18 minutes. They take time to make and rise, and then shape and rise again, and then bake, so don’t expect to eat them for breakfast unless you want to be up kneading dough by 6am. I generally bake ours mid morning and then they are ready for afternoon tea. Be sure to involve little helpers, baking bread is so much fun! Wishing you all a peaceful Good Friday.
The official CWA approved recipe and ingredients.
3 level teaspoons of dry yeast
1/3 cup of caster sugar
1 cup warm milk
4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sultanas
1 egg beaten lightly
1/4 cup warm milk
Flour Paste For The Crosses
1/4 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cold water approx
6 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
1 tablespoon water
Combine the yeast, sugar and warm milk into a bowl and whisk until yeast is dissolved.
Cover and stand in a warm place.
About 10 mins.
Sift flour, spices and salt into large bowl and rub in the butter.
Then stir in the fruit, beaten egg, yeast mix and warm milk.
Combine to make a soft dough.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place large bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap and stand in warm place for approx 1 hour or until dough doubles its size.
Knead lightly and divide into portions – quickly, then form into balls and placed onto a greased lined tray.
They should be almost touching. Stand in a warm place for 20 minutes or until double the size. Preheat the oven to 220c (200c fan forced).
Flour Paste - put all ingredients onto a small bowl and stir enough water to make a smooth paste and then put into a piping bag and pipe the cross over the buns.
Bake the buns for 12-15 minutes. Golden brown is what you are aiming for. Tap them and they’ll sound hollow when they are ready.
Glaze - combine all ingredients into small saucepan, stir without boiling until sugar and gelatine are dissolved.
When the buns are cooked, put on to a wire rack and brush with glaze and then open the oven door and sit buns for about 10 seconds (this last little trick allows the glaze to set).
My Grandmother spent almost a week at our house after our trip to Canada. As I have mentioned a few times, Grandma came all the way to New York from Australia, then up to Canada, and then back to New Jersey, with a broken foot, and so her week spent with us was not about sight seeing New York, but about spending relaxed quality time with us in our new home. During this time we enjoyed our days doing the things we usually do, but with the lovely company of Tutu.
I relish having extra company to cook for, and made an effort that each of our meals together was something Grandma would appreciate and enjoy. Cooking our evening meal is often an activity for the Girls, and it was fun to involve Tutu too. I think that involving Children in every aspect of food preparation – grocery shopping, choosing meals, washing produce, cutting, measuring and stirring, gives them a healthy relationship to food, beyond eating it.
On Friday afternoon, I made a hearty roasted celeriac and leek soup. You can find the recipe at Homespun Waldorf. It is very scrumptious, and I just love the parmesan and toasted pine nuts garnish. Roots vegetable soups are so nourishing in Winter, and celeriac so often gets forgotten about, which is a shame as the flavor is deliciously zesty. To go with the soup we made some of the molasses bread that Maya helped bake each week at the Waldorf Playgroup she attended in Brooklyn. This is one of the yummiest breads ever. When eating this bread with soup, I like to make it into bread rolls and serve them hot out of the oven with lashings of butter. Maya and Elle love to bake bread, and as you can see, Elle is really getting into it. Grandma enjoyed the bread so much she comment that she would like the recipe, and so here it is, for my Grandma and anyone else who would like to bake yummy bread.
Whole Wheat Molasses Bread
1 packet of dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup molasses (or honey)
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a large bowl, stir until dissolved. Stir in molasses, butter, salt and whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in 2 cups of the all-purpose flour to make a smooth, soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding enough of remaining flour to keep it from being sticky, a tablespoon at a time.
Shape flour into a ball. Place in a greased, large bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover. Place in a warm place to rise, or if you do not have a warm place, put on top rack of oven. Turn on low for 5 minutes, then turn off (to create a barely warm oven). Place pan of steaming water on bottom rack. Let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours. Punch down and shape into rolls, or roll out into rectangle, then roll up, pinching edges to seal. Place in loaf pan, seam side down, brush with oil and let rise (same procedure). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Please porridge hot, please porridge cold,
Please Porrige in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.
One of our favorite things to eat in Winter (besides soup) is porridge. Maya has eaten porridge for breakfast 43 days straight, and I thought to myself – if our porridge is that good, then I should share the secrets of our favorite breakfast. You would think Maya might get tired of porridge, but she does not and you will see the reason why. Porridge to my Girls is like an ice-cream Sunday for breakfast. They get and array of toppings to choose from, and mostly they are sweet. Sometimes it will be porridge with brown sugar, sometimes it will be with honey, and our very favorite is porridge with maple syrup. We then add fresh fruit, either apple or berries, or dried cranberries or raisins, and some pecan nuts.
So what is my method? Well, when I cook the porridge I make it half with whole milk, half with water. I also add cinnamon and ground flax-seed. I have been using quick cooking oats as we get up at 7am and Maya leaves for school at 8am and I make it fresh each day so quick oats have come in handy…because they really are quick. In less than 5 minutes they are cooked. Once the porridge is cooked I add more milk to make it creamier and also to cool it a little for instant eating. I do all of this in a small pot on the stove top, and I always, yes always, use my special porridge spoon. This is a wooden spoon in my utensil drawer dedicated completely to porridge. I bought it 6 years ago and have used it for nothing but porridge since – a little quirky for sure!
While I cook the porridge the girls decide which toppings they want. I too am a porridge lover and make enough for all of us…unlike the Girls, my topping never varies. I always have maple syrup, pecans and a dollop of butter (the children do not get butter, but this Momma needs the fat!).
I feel good about serving this to the children and know the benefits of sending Maya off to school with a hot nourishing meal in her tummy. Porridge sustains us. This version of porridge is high in fiber with protein and carbohydrate as well as the omega 3 essential fatty acids from the flax-seed. Did you know that flax-seed is great for regulating hormones and maintaining beautiful hair, skin and nails…and best of all it comes from a plant source instead of a fish. I hope you too are one of the lucky ones, loving a hearty bowl of porridge for breakfast during the colder months – I know there is a whole heap of porridge eating peeps out there devouring it. Enjoy!
Mmmmm….Yummy! Rich, creamy, tangy and hearty. This soup is a what comfort food is all about. Last week when the weather suddenly became cold (warm again now!) we enjoyed making Tomato and Red Lentil Bisque. I love soup and it is definitely a thing to look forward to with cold weather, and so along with premature fire making, we made soup early too. Elle is my official garlic peeler, she will sit and carefully peel the garlic paper from the clove – and then ask to do another one, and another, and another. Both the Girls enjoy cooking, and each seem to have their favorite tasks. By having them help me cook our evening meal it keeps me happy as they are constructively occupied, and it also means they grow up learning to cook – something everyone should do.
I want to share this recipe with you – but please keep in mind, I made this soup up as I went along and so I am not exactly sure of the quantities. All measurements are approximate so you will get the gist, but remember to use your own judgement. I was inspired to make a tomato soup as Nina gave us a large succulent tomatoes from her garden. The big fat juicy tomato on our window sill was begging to be roasted. I like homemade roasted tomato soup very much, but to feed the whole family tomato soup it takes a lot of tomatoes. I had only five large tomatoes, which is not enough, so to extend the soup I decided to add red lentils (here comes my lentil plug), lentils of course give us protein, and so we could easily eat them every day. Lentils are good for so many reasons, but mostly we eat them for protein and iron. Lentils are a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, they are also a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Lentils also provide good amounts of six important minerals, and two B-vitamins—all with virtually no fat – unlike meat! (spoken like a true vegetarian!). Go lentils!
So here is my tasty recipe, a great way to use up those summer tomatoes, and enjoy a health and balanced meal!
Tomato & Red Lentil Bisque
5 large ripe tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs
1 small onion
1 cup of red lentils
salt & pepper
1/2 cup of water
cream to garnish
Wash and halve tomatoes and put them in a baking dish – I line the tin with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Bake at 420˚ for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are looking nicely roasted. While tomatoes are roasting, prepare the lentil soup base. Dice celery and onion. Sweat the celery and onion with olive oil in a medium saucepan. When it is slightly golden, add a cup of red lentil and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and the bay leaf. You only need enough water to cover the lentils just – you don’t want this to be to wet as when you add the tomatoes it will make it more soupy. Let the lentils cook covered for about 10 minutes – or until tender. When the lentils are coked, most of the water will be absorbed. at about the same time as the lentils are cooked the tomatoes should be roasted. Using a sieve, press roasted tomatoes into the lentil base. You are basically juicing the tomatoes be pressing out the liquid. By doing this you are able to discard the skin and seeds and avoid an overly piquant flavour to the soup ( I would use a metal sieve if I had one – but for now I am still using this horrible plastic one!). Also add the oil/juice remaining in the pan left over form baking. Combine the tomato juice and lentils. You can leave your soup this way and have a textured soup, or you can do as I do and puree the soup with a hand held cuisnart. When mixture is smooth, add salt and pepper to taste, and finely chopped fresh basil, stir in and serve. Garnish with a dash of fresh cream.
One of my favorite meals of late is eggplant pita. I had a craving for eggplant with hummus and so this is what I came up with to satisfy my taste buds. A yummy and nutritious meal – great for lunch or dinner. This is not so much a recipe, but just an idea for a meal.
fresh pita bread
1/2 small red onion or 1 shallot
squeeze of lemon
Slice a whole eggplant, lay pieces out on a baking tray, brush with olive oil, lightly salt and bake for about 20 minutes in a hot oven. While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the tomato and cucumber salad. Dice the tomato, cucumber and red onion, combine in a bowl, add 1 Tbls of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon – add a little salt and pepper to taste. Once eggplant is cooked, remove from oven (you can put the pita in the oven for a few minute to warm if you like). Spread the pita with hummus, layer eggplant, tomato cucumber salad and greens, then drizzle with tahini, fold and enjoy with minted lemonade or iced tea!