Update This recipe includes a mixture of spices that resembles the Mixed Spice that we used in the UK but don’t find here in Canada. An alternative is to use 3½ teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice.
Tastier than store-bought, we enjoy these traditional hot cross buns at Easter and all year round! I have to thank Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bakeoff for the idea of adding an apple to the recipe. It adds to the flavour and gives them a softer, more moist, texture.
I use a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook but you can knead by hand if you prefer.
Chop the mixed peel and the apple into small cubes, grate the zest of an orange into the mixture, and put to one side.
Weigh out the salt, sugar, and yeast, and add to the flour in the mixer bowl, putting the yeast and the salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Then add the sultanas and the fruit that you chopped up, as well as the spices. Mix all these dry ingredients together. (This allows the flour to coat the fruit and prevent it sticking together.)
Add the butter, egg, and milk, and mix on speed 1 until it is all evenly mixed. This only takes about a minute. Then mix on speed 2 for another 8 minutes. While this is kneading, lightly oil a large bowl for the dough to rise in.
The dough should now be smooth, the sides of the bowl should be clean, and the dough should come off the dough hook without sticking. Tip it out onto a lightly floured (or oiled) surface and shape it into a ball. Put it into the oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.
Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.
While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.
Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)
Place the dough balls on the baking tray, laid out four by three, about an inch apart. This will give them room to grow so that they’re almost touching after proving. (You want them to join up when baking so that you have to tear them apart when finished.) Cover with a tea towel, or place inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.
Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5
For the crosses
Mix the flour and water into a paste and add to a piping bag with a fine nozzle. Make one half of the crosses by piping across each row of buns in one sweep, starting on the tray and finishing each sweep on the tray at the other side. When all the buns are piped in one direction, turn the tray and repeat, forming the crosses.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.
For the glaze
Warm the apricot jam with a teaspoon of boiling water and brush over the tops of the buns while they’re still warm.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Unless you can't wait, freeze the buns and defrost when needed.
It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right. With this recipe they worked out to be about 103g (3⅔ oz) each
* Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
115g (4 oz) smoked streaky bacon/smoked side bacon, cut into strips (4 rashers)
12 shallots, peeled and trimmed
1 tbsp flour
475ml (16 fl oz) good chicken stock (2 cups)
150ml (5 fl oz) white wine (⅔ cup)
3 tarragon sprigs, leaves finely chopped and stalks reserved
3 tbsp crème fraîche
salt and ground black pepper
serve with baby potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet. Add the chicken and sauté over a medium heat until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Now add the bacon to the pan and fry for about 3 minutes to release the fat. Then reduce the heat and add the shallots. Continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until both are golden in colour.
Next, sprinkle over the flour and stir to absorb the fat and juices. Cook for 1 minute and then gradually stir in the stock, wine and tarragon stalks.
Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 45 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken, bacon and shallots to a plate and keep warm. Strain the sauce and discard the tarragon stalks. Then return the sauce to the pan/skillet and reduce by half. Now stir in the crème fraîche and chopped tarragon leaves. Season to taste.
Return the chicken, bacon and shallots to the pan and stir to coat.
A delicious combination of spice, herbs and sweetness. Strips of pork tenderloin, cooked in a paprika and herb sauce, with red peppers and mushrooms. Just add a dollop of Greek yogurt and sprinkle with more paprika.
A simple meal of fish and chips, prepared and cooked in an hour. A chunky piece of fresh white fish (haddock or cod), coated in fresh breadcrumbs, and shallow fried for just 10 minutes. Served with home cooked fries and ready to be doused with ketchup and vinegar.
You will also need a large frying pan/skillet or sauté pan for the fish and a large baking sheet, covered with baking parchment, for the chips.
Adjust oven rack to the lowest level and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
For the chips
Peel potatoes and slice into ½ inch thick rounds and then into ½ inch thick strips. Pat dry and place in a bowl.
Drizzle with oil and season well. Toss until evenly coated.
Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times until browned.
For the fish
Meanwhile, prepare the fish. Spread the flour on a plate and season. Then spread breadcrumbs on a second plate. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl.
Pat dry the fish with kitchen paper. Taking one fillet at a time, coat it in the flour, gently shaking off any excess. Then dip it in the beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a clean plate and repeat with the remaining fish.
While the chips are cooking in the oven the fish can be cooked on the hob. Heat the frying pan/skillet over a medium heat and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the fish and gently fry for about 4–5 minutes until golden and crisp on the underside. Carefully turn and repeat on the other side. The fish may have to be cooked in two batches. Lift the fish from the pan and place on a warmed plate covered with kitchen paper to absorb any oil. Cover the plate with foil and keep warm while cooking the rest of the fish.
Serve immediately garnished with the lemon wedges.
The first reference to a shepherd’s pie appeared in the late 1800s and since then there has been a debate as to whether it should contain lamb or beef. I’ve grown up with the idea that a shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, and cottage pie with beef. Regardless, the traditional recipe can be quite bland so here I have added some extra seasonings to liven it up.
450ml (15 fl oz) lamb stock (beef can be used as a substitute) (2 cups)
800g (1 lb 12 oz) potatoes, cut into large chunks (5 medium)
40g (1½ oz) butter (3 tbsp)
Serve with Chantenay carrots/baby carrots and any other seasonal vegetables.
You will also need a sauté pan and ovenproof dish.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the meat and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add remaining oil, reduce the heat and gently cook the onion and celery for 10 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Now stir in the spices, flour and tomato purée/paste and cook for 2 minutes.
Gradually stir in the stock, then return the lamb to the pan. Season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and leave them to steam dry for two minutes.
Preheat grill/broiler to medium.
Mash the potatoes with the butter and season to taste. Tip the lamb mixture into the ovenproof dish and cover with the potato. Grill/broil until the potato is turning golden, about 10 minutes.
This chicken and mixed cheese bake is made with bite-sized pieces of chicken, strips of bacon and mushrooms, sautéed and then baked in a mixed cheese sauce with a grated Parmesan and breadcrumb topping. A very simple dish that tastes really good.
Cut the bacon into thin strips. Then heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet and add the bacon. Cook over a medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Next, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and put in the pan in a single layer. Brown all over, adding a little extra olive oil if needed. This may need to be done 2 batches. Remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon.
Then put the mushrooms in the pan and sauté over a low heat for 2 minutes, turning occasionally.
Finally, pour in the sauce and heat through.
Return the chicken and bacon to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce. Season and transfer to a gratin dish.
Mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and scatter over the chicken mixture.
Bake near the top of the oven for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sauce is bubbling.
Cooking time: 30 minutes on hob, 25 minutes in oven
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
700g (1½ lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
1 large aubergine/egg plant, sliced
2 x 400g cans or
1 x 28 fl oz can chopped tomatoes/diced tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée/paste
1 Kallo beef organic stock cube or 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Beef*
salt and freshly ground black pepper
900g (2 lb) potatoes (6 medium)
240ml (8 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1 cup)
115g (4 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
*I just choose these options because I don’t like all the additives and sodium found in other brands.
For this recipe you will also need a deep-sided frying pan/skillet, a griddle or heavy-based pan and a
1.75 litre (3 pint) (7 cup) ovenproof dish
Heat the oil in the deep-sided frying pan/skillet over a low heat. Add the onion and oregano and gently fry for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened but not brown. Stir occasionally.
Turn up to a moderate heat and add the lamb. Stir fry for 10 minutes until the meat starts to brown.
Drain any fat from the lamb, add the tomatoes, tomato purée/paste and stock cube or teaspoon of bouillon. Stir well and season. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 25–30 minutes until the liquid has reduced.
Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into large even-sized pieces. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 15 minutes. Drain, leave for a couple of minutes until they are cool enough to handle and then cut into thin slices.
Next, preheat the griddle over a medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes. Then cook the aubergine/egg plant slices in batches, in a single layer, for a couple of minutes each side until they just starting to colour. Put them to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Make layers with the aubergine/egg plant, lamb mixture and potatoes in the ovenproof dish, finishing with potatoes. Pour over the cream and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 20–25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Prepares: 4 servings (photograph shows a serving for 2)
Preparation time: About 25 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
900g (2 lb) potatoes, (6 medium)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
6 plum tomatoes, halved, OR
12 tinned/canned plum tomatoes*
4 x 170g (6 oz) salmon fillets, skinned
20 black olives, pitted (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150ml (5 fl oz) dry white wine (⅔ cup)
2 tbsp lemon juice
knob of butter
basil leaves to garnish
accompany with a fresh green vegetable
You will also need a 2.4 litre (4½ pint) ovenproof dish for this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized large pieces. Then parboil in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to cool for about 5 minutes until they become cool enough to handle. Now cut into 5mm (¼ inch) slices.
Brush the dish with 1½ tablespoons olive oil. Then layer the potato slices in the dish and drizzle over another 1½ tablespoons of the oil. Spread the garlic slices over the potatoes and top with the tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining one tablespoon oil, season and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
Ten minutes before the end of cooking, start preparing the salmon fillets. Slash each salmon fillet three times across the top and season. Heat a large non-stick frying pan/skillet and add a good sized knob of butter. When the butter begins to sizzle, lay the salmon fillets in the pan/skillet and sear for one minute on both sides.
Remove from the pan/skillet and lay the salmon fillets on top of the potatoes. Scatter with the olives (if using), and pour the wine and lemon juice over the fish. Then cover with foil and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
To serve, garnish with basil leaves and accompany with a green vegetable.
This is a lovely rich beef stew with chunks of beef, baby carrots, swede/rutabaga and red onion, cooked slowly in a wine and passata enriched stock. Perfect for a cold winter’s day, served with garlic mashed potatoes.
450g (1 lb) swede/rutabaga, cut into small chunks (about half a small one)
*Chantenay carrots found in the U.K. are lovely, small, sweet carrots. The baby carrots found in Canada are smaller and can be a good substitute, or just use ordinary carrots roughly chopped, small.
For this recipe you will need a deep sided frying pan/skillet with lid.
For the garlic mashed potatoes
800g (1¾ lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (5 medium)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 sprig of rosemary
2 sprigs of sage
knob of butter
For the stew
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pan and brown the beef, in two batches, over a medium heat. Set to one side.
Add a little more oil to the pan, if necessary, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. The onion should be just beginning to brown.
Next, add the garlic, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, wine and a good knob of butter. Now return the beef to the pan with any of its juices. Give it all a good stir and then increase the heat and let it bubble for a couple of minutes to reduce.
Stir in the passata and stock. Season well. Cover and let it simmer very gently for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Add the carrots and swede/rutabaga and cook for a further hour. The meat should be really tender and the vegetables cooked through.
Remove the thyme sprigs before serving.
For the garlic mashed potatoes
Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces. Cook in boiling salted water for 20 minutes until tender.
In a separate pan, over a low heat, add the oil, garlic, rosemary, and sage. Then simmer very gently for about 10 minutes to flavour the oil. Remove the sprigs of rosemary and sage.
Drain the potatoes and mash with the oil. Add a knob of butter, season, and beat until creamy.
For this recipe you will need a large frying pan/skillet with lid and a 2.25 litre (4 pint) ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).
Peel and cut potatoes into large chunks. Cook in boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Next, cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets, about 115g (4 oz) (1 cup). Not all the head of broccoli will be needed.
Remove the stalks from the dill and reserve. Chop dill leaves and put to one side.
Put the fish into the frying pan/skillet and pour over the water and wine. Add seasoning, dill stalks and lemon slices. Cover. Bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until just cooked.
Remove from the heat. Discard the dill stalks and lemon slices. Strain and reserve the cooking liquor. Lay the fish in the ovenproof dish. Flake into chunks using a fork and check for bones.
Add the prawns/shrimps and broccoli.
Melt the butter in the frying pan/skillet and stir in the flour to form a smooth paste. Remove from the heat and slowly add the reserved cooking liquor, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Add the cream, chopped dill leaves, and season. Now pour the sauce over the fish.
Mash the potatoes, adding just enough milk to create a creamy mash. Season well.
Cover the fish with spoonfuls of the potato. Don’t flatten the spoon shapes out, you are after a bumpy look. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and pour the melted butter over the top.
Bake for 40–45 minutes until piping hot and lightly browned.
700g (1½ lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced (4½ medium)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 400g tin whole tomatoes (½ x 28 fl oz can)
good beef stock
225g (8 oz) peas (optional) (1½ cups)
You will need a lidded casserole dish for this recipe
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Place the flour in a medium plastic food storage bag and add salt and pepper. Shake the bag to mix. Cut the steak into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes and add to the bag. Shake again so the flour coats the steak. Remove the steak from the bag but reserve any remaining flour.
Layer steak, onions, carrots and potatoes in the casserole dish, sprinkling each layer with a pinch of nutmeg and some seasoning as you go.
Sprinkle the remaining flour from the bag over the meat and vegetables and then add the tomatoes.
Finally pour over enough stock to come just over halfway up the ingredients.
Cover and cook for 2½ hours.
Peas can be added 15 minutes before the end of cooking.