We've had a bit of a mixed bag weather wise here for Easter this year - everything from snow to rain to a sunny Easter Sunday, which meant we got to enjoy a lovely walk on the beach.
The guests, however, were consistently lovely to host and cater for - we had a truly international weekend with fun and interesting people and dogs - originating from Belgium, Lithuania, the US and Germany.
We had a lot of fun with these two who were no trouble at all and seemed to feel right at home from the start - see the little tail wagging (left pic)?
Of course, it being Easter meant that we were all in for some special treats as I got baking on Good Friday before everyone arrived - there was fresh bread to be made for breakfasts as well as Hot Cross Buns, it being that time of year and I found this really good recipe on my BBC Good Food kitchen calendar worked marvellously well, considering I'd never made them before in my life ;)
Recipe as per BBC Good Food:
You need these ingredients for 15 buns (and a half day to make them! I know bit time intensive, but worth the effort):
300ml full fat milk
50g salted butter
500g strong bread flour
75g castor sugar
1 sachet fast-action yeast
1 beaten egg
50g mixed peel
zest of 1 orange
1 roughly grated apple
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g plain flour for the crosses
3 tbsp apricot jam for the final glaze
How to make them:
Gently bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter to melt - leave to cool to room temperature.
In the meantime mix flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl, add the lukewarm milk-butter mix and the egg and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Then tip onto a floured surface and knead, holding the dough with the one hand while stretching it with the heel of the other hand (much like in your usual bread/roll baking). Keep folding it back onto itself and continue until it becomes smooth, shiny and elastic in texture. Leave to prove for an hour (or until doubled in size) in a warm place in an oiled bowl and covered.
Once the dough is ready, add the sultanas, peel, zest, apple and cinnamon and knead till all the additional ingredients have become part of the dough - again, leave to rise till twice its size in a warm place in the oiled bowl and under cover.
Now divide the dough into roughly 80g pieces (mine made 16, but depends on your dough really) and roll each to a smooth bun on a floured surface, the bottom should look a bit like spiral if you've done it right ;). And - this will sound familiar - leave to prove for another hour under cover in a warm place.
Heat the oven at 200 degreed Celsius and mix the flour for the crosses with 3 tbsp of water - add them one by one so your floury paste doesn't get too thin - fill into a piping bag and get creative with your crosses.
Finally - bake for 20-25 minuted until they are golden brown and them leave to cool. Once cold, heat the 3 tbsp jam gently to smooth it out and glaze the buns which are smelling de-li-cious!
And - the best part of all this - you get to eat them now - enjoy toasted (or not?) with salted butter (or jam/honey?) and be proud you have made them yourself!