Love is in the air…

It’s been a whirlwind few years of romance for our friendship group. So many engagements and weddings, each of them beautiful and unique..I’ll admit that time and time again I’m reduced to tears seeing my amazing friends so happy. As I’m personally not much a romantic myself, I’m amazed that I can love weddings so much. But there is something truly beautiful about a day that epitomizes the couple and their love…especially when the day is a perfect reflection of who they are together.

This weekend we have a wedding in the little town of Nhill, Victoria. I write in future tense even though this will need to be published next week to make sure I don’t ruin my own surprise! As a little gift to the lovely bride and groom for their new home I’ve picked up a set of super cute retro cookie tins and will fill them to the brink with decorated sugar cookies to match their rustic country wedding.

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On a whim last year I decided to take a cookie decorating course with the amazing ‘Miss Biscuit’, based in Melbourne and I cannot rave about her enough. The course was fantastic, only a quick 2 hr introduction to Christmas themed cookies but the skills you learn and the enthusiasm you feed off in the room is worth every penny; as is her coveted sugar cookie and royal icing recipes! Given that these aren’t my secret to tell, I won’t be publishing on here but here are a few links to recipes that other use and rave about. My tip though; jump onto the Miss Biscuit recipe and purchase her recipes.

One day I will work myself up to a tutorial for a step by step on how to decorate the cookies but at the moment my process is just too damn messy to share with the world! In the meantime, handy links are below and the trial and error process is a whole heap of fun…

Alternate Sugar cookie recipe; http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10402/the-best-rolled-sugar-cookies/

http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2014/02/royal-icing-for-cookie-decorating/

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Happy cookie’ing!

Snoz xx

Fig and Dark Chocolate Chunk Hot Cross Buns

laurent

 

So a lot of people apparently have some very significant, deep traditions based around Easter long weekend. From church, to Good Friday Fish to family celebrations….I admire the concept of these traditions; but they are certainly not for me.

For the last few years our tradition has been getting together our group of wonderful friends and camping out on an olive farm in the Victorian Grampians. It may not be very traditional but it’s a wonderful time away with the best people you will meet. Our baking however  is reduced to being as creative as we can over the campfire. Trust me, the feasts we come up with are pretty impressive given the surroundings (Full hot breakfast?Mexican fiesta? Roasted peaches stuffed with raspberries and white chocolate?) but it’s certainly nothing blog worthy.

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The amazing moonlit cooking crew at the Grampians

Due to a hectic few months of surgery, wrapping up at one job and starting another, training for the Oxfam 100km, weddings, engagements and just general life…I’ve found myself a little exhausted. As a result I’m spending this long weekend at home for some much needed r and r. However not even one day in and I’m already getting stuck into the kitchen for some festive baking.

It’s Hot Cross Bun time!

It’s no secret that I used to work in the head office of the wonderful Bakers Delight so their bakers have set some pretty high standard to work against. I’ve watched literally thousands of hand cut hot cross buns getting pulled out of their provers and ovens so I’ve told myself nice and early that there is no point trying to compete with their traditional buns. So I’ve decided to make up a cheeky variation!

I cam across a fig and chocolate hot cross bun recipe just the other day and thought perfecto! This is my kind of thing! Only to found it chock full of spelt flour, stevia and almond milk. Now sure, I see the appeal for the health nuts around me….but I just can’t reduce the indulgence of festive baking down to a ‘healthy version’.Therefore, I’ve worked up my own recipe based on the Jamie Oliver hot cross dough and mixed up with the addition of dried fig and lovely dark chocolate chunks.

         Ingredients 

  • 2 x 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 455 g strong bread flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 55 g caster sugar
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 75g dried fig, chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g sultanas
  • 200 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 55 g unsalted butterCross mix
  • 75g plain flour
  • 5 tbsp waterGlaze
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, sugar and mixed spice

 

1. Add the milk and 50ml water to a small pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until slightly warm – 26 degrees is the temp you want but for those without cooking thermometers handy this should feel warm but not scalding to the touch.

2. Meanwhile, add the butter to a separate pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until melted, then set aside.

3. In a small bowl, soak your sultanas and figs in a small ball of water. A little dash of orange juice into this is a nice addition and infuses a little citrus into the fruit. Soaking your fruit will ensure plump moist sultanas

4. Transfer the warmed milk mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.

5. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the salt, spices and the sugar.

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6. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add it to the bowl.

7. Using a fork, mix well until you have a rough dough, then transfer to a clean flour dusted work surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until soft and springy.

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8. Return the dough to a flour dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

9. Transfer the dough to a clean flour dusted work surface. Knock the air out by bashing it with your fist, then sprinkle over the dried fruit and chocolate and knead into the dough for 1 to 2 minutes.

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10. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Grease and line a large baking tray.

11. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into balls. Evenly space them out on a lined baking tray as you go.

12. Cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

13. Meanwhile, place the plain flour and 5 tablespoons water into a small bowl and mix to a thick paste.

14. Gently pat down the risen buns then use the batter to carefully trace a cross over the top with a piping bag or spoon.

15. Place the buns into the preheated oven for 15 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

16. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Meanwhile, heat caster sugar and water until sugar dissolved. Mix in spices and glaze immediately onto cooling buns liberally

17. Slice open the sticky hot cross buns, spread with a little butter and serve – delicious
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