Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

 

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.

 

Hot Cross Buns
Prepares: 12 buns
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 2 hours
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hours
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 75g (2½ oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 150g (5 oz) sultanas (1 cup)
  • 80g (3 oz) chopped, mixed peel (½ cup)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (room temperature) (3 tbsp)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) whole/full fat milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1¼ cups)
  • ¾ tsp all spice
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger

  • For the crosses
  • 75g (2½ oz) plain/cake & pastry flour (½ cup)
  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) water (¼ cup + 1 tbsp)

  • For the glaze
  • 3 tsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp water


  1. Method


  2. Step 1
  3. If you store your yeast in the fridge, take it out first and allow it to warm to room temperature. Chop the mixed peel and the apple into small cubes, grate the zest of an orange into the mixture, and put to one side.

  4. 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.)

  5. Soften the butter, warm the milk to about 100°F (40°C), and then add the butter and a whisked egg to the milk, and stir. Add this to the dry ingredients 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.

  6. 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, make sure there's a coating of oil over the whole dough, and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  7. 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.

  8. While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.

  9. Step 2
  10. 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.)

  11. 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.

  12. Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5

  13. Step 3
  14. For the crosses
  15. 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.

  16. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

  17. For the glaze
  18. Warm the apricot jam with a teaspoon of boiling water and brush over the tops of the buns while they’re still warm.

  19. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  20. Unless you can't wait, freeze the buns and defrost when needed.



  21. Tip
  22. 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

  23. * 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%.

Updated: March 3, 2019

Crunchy Apple Crumble

Crunchy Apple CrumbleCrunchy Apple Crumble

 

Apples are cooked with raisins and a hint of cinnamon while walnuts added to the crumble mixture to make this a real crunchy apple crumble. One of those comforting desserts, perfect for a winter’s day, and served with lots of cream.

 

Crunchy Apple Crumble
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 25 minutes
  • Standing time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 1 hour

  • Ingredients
  • For the fruit
  • 1kg (2 lb 4 oz) Bramley apples (or any variety suitable for cooking) (about 6)
  • 70g (2½ oz) light muscovado sugar/soft light brown sugar (¼ cup)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 85g (3 oz) raisins (⅓ cup)
  • a little softened butter for greasing

  • For the crumble
  • 55g (2 oz) walnut pieces (½ cup)
  • 125g (4½ oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup)
  • 100g (3½ oz) chilled butter, cubed (½ cup, or 1 stick less 1 tbsp)
  • 55g (2 oz) demerara sugar (¼ cup)

  • To serve
  • Double cream/heavy cream

  • You will also need a 23cm(9 inch) shallow ovenproof dish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).

  3. Peel, core and thickly slice the apples. Then place them in a large bowl.

  4. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, add to the apples and toss to coat.

  5. Now add the raisins, separating those that may have stuck together, and toss to evenly distribute.

  6. Grease the ovenproof dish and then tip in the apples. Sprinkle over 4 tablespoons of water, cover the dish with foil, and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn over the apple slices halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven, turn the slices over again, and set aside for about 1 hour to cool.

  7. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), (gas 6).

  8. To prepare the crumble, finely chop the walnut pieces and then set to one side.

  9. Rub the butter into the flour and then stir in the walnuts. The mixture should look like large breadcrumbs.

  10. Mix in the sugar and then spoon the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the apples.

  11. Bake for 30 minutes until the crumble is browning and the juices are starting to bubble through.

  12. Serve with a jug of cream.

Updated: March 3, 2019

Cheat’s Crêpes Suzette

Cheat's Crêpes Suzette

 

I call these Cheat’s Crêpes Suzette because they aren’t flambéed just before serving. The crêpes with orange segments in orange sauce flavoured with Cointreau still make them sublime. (To flambé them, just follow the last steps of the method.)

 

Cheat's Crêpes Suzette
Prepares: 4–6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 30 minutes
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: About 25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crêpes
  • 115g (4 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup less 2 tbsp)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) semi-skimmed/2% milk (1 cup) mixed with 60ml (2 fl oz) water (¼ cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)

  • For the orange sauce
  • 55g (2 oz) icing/powdered sugar (½ cup)
  • 3 small oranges
  • 85g (3 oz) butter (3 tbsp, or ³⁄₈ stick)
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau

  • You will also need a 25cm (10 inch) heavy gauge aluminium frying pan/skillet.


  1. Method
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break in the eggs. Using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk, whisk the eggs into the flour, gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour from around the edge of the bowl. Scrape any remaining flour down from the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again until all the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of thin cream. Set aside for 20 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Squeeze the juice from one orange into a small pan and add the icing sugar. Stir to dissolve and then add the butter. Gently heat to melt the butter and then simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly. Set the pan to one side.

  5. Then zest the two remaining oranges and put the zest to one side.

  6. Now remove all the pith from the 2 oranges, separate into their segments and remove any pips. Cut each segment in half.

  7. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F) (gas 2) and place five plates in the oven to warm.

  8. To prepare for cooking the crêpes: Melt the butter in the pan/skillet. Spoon 2 tablespoons into the batter and whisk it in. Pour the remainder into a small bowl and use it to smear the pan/skillet between cooking each pancake using a wodge of kitchen paper.

  9. Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to a medium–hot setting.

  10. Use about 3 tablespoons of batter for each crêpe. It is easier to measure this into a ladle or measuring cup first and use this to tip the batter into the pan/skillet in one go. Using the ladle or cup, hold it so that the base is very close to the bottom of the pan/skillet in the centre and then pour it in. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan/skillet, lift the pan/skillet and tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with the batter. If there are any holes, just fill them in with extra batter using a teaspoon. It will take less than a minute to cook. Lift the edge with a palette knife to check the underside is golden.

  11. Now flip the crêpe over. The other side will need less time to cook. Then slide it out of the pan onto a warmed plate.

  12. Continue until there are 12 crêpes. Overlap them on the warmed plate as you go, keeping them warm in the oven, covered loosely with foil.

  13. Pour the sauce into the pan/skillet and warm through. Add the zest and 1 tablespoon of the liqueur.

  14. Then fold the crêpes into quarters, placing a few orange segments in each one. Add the crêpes to the pan along with any remaining orange segments.

  15. Cook for 2 minutes to heat the crêpes through.

  16. Note
  17. If you want to flambé the crêpes just follow the steps below.

  18. To flambé the crêpes
  19. This is done just before serving the crêpes. First mix together 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier and 3 tablespoons of brandy. Then pour them into the pan and set the sauce alight. This has to be done very quickly or the alcohol will evaporate and won’t light. Carefully swirl the pan around so that the sauce flames evenly. Serve when the flames have extinguished. Be very careful when doing this.

Updated: February 25, 2019

Sweet Mustard Pork

Sweet Mustard Pork

 

Succulent pork tenderloin marinaded in a sweet mustard sauce and then roasted.

 

Sweet Mustard Pork
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: about 30 minutes
  • Marinading time: at least 30 minutes, overnight if possible
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes hob, 30 minutes oven

  • Ingredients
  • 450g (1 lb) pork fillet/tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Vegetables to serve
  • roasted, diced potatoes and carrots
  • peas

  • You will also need 2 small roasting tins/pans.


  1. Method
  2. For the mustard pork
  3. Mix together the maple syrup, mustard, garlic, oil, and seasoning. Then pour into a shallow dish. Now add the pork and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at at least 30 minutes; overnight if possible.

  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  5. Remove the pork from the fridge to bring it up to room temperature.

  6. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Parboil a few potatoes and carrots for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Then chop, put in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil.

  7. The vegetables and pork are roasted at the same time. So tip the vegetables into a small roasting tin/pan along with the olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes until they start to brown and crisp.

  8. Transfer the pork to the second tin/pan and pour over the marinade. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and the juices run clear when tested with a skewer.

  9. Slice the pork and pour over the sticky pan juices. Serve with the roasted vegetables and accompany with peas.

Updated: February 20, 2019

Angie’s Potato Salad

Angie's Potato Salad

 

I have been making this potato salad for many years and it has now become a great family favourite. Cubed cooked potatoes and quartered boiled eggs are added to a seasoned mayonnaise which also incorporates diced celery, sliced green onions, and chopped parsley. It is a great addition to any salad or as an accompaniment to cold meats.

 

Angie's Potato Salad
Prepares: 6–8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 900g (2 lb) waxy potatoes (about 6 medium)
  • 3 eggs
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) mayonnaise (1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 3 spring/green onions, thinly sliced (¼ cup)
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf/Italian parsley, chopped

  • You will also need a large serving bowl.


  1. Method
  2. Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized chunks. Simmer in a pan of boiled, salted water for 20 minutes until just tender.

  3. The eggs need to be hard boiled, so add them to the pan with the potatoes after they have been cooking for 10 minutes and that way a second pan can be avoided being used.

  4. Once the potatoes and eggs are cooked, lift the eggs from the pan and pop them in a bowl of cold water to keep the yolks golden.

  5. Drain the potatoes, leave to steam dry and become cool.

  6. Meanwhile, in the serving bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, mustard, celery seed, salt, diced celery, sliced onions, and the chopped parsley.

  7. Now cut the potatoes into roughly 1 inch cubes and add to the bowl. Gently stir them into the mayonnaise mixture so they are well coated.

  8. Finally remove the shells from the eggs and cut each one into four. Carefully add half of them to the potato salad and then decorate the top with the remaining quarters.

  9. Refrigerate until needed.

 

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

 

I saw Mary Berry create this recipe for floating islands on the Great British Bake Off Masterclass. I have always sprinkled cocoa powder over the meringue eggs (see here) but would certainly recommend this for a change.

 

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crème anglaise
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (1 cup)
  • 180ml (7 fl oz) double cream/heavy cream (¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only (reserve 3 egg whites for the meringue)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)

  • For the meringues
  • 3 eggs, whites only (reserved from the crème anglaise)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)

  • For the spun sugar
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup)

  • You will also need a deep sided sauté or frying pan/skillet with lid and four shallow dessert bowls.


  1. Method
  2. For the spun sugar
  3. Melt the sugar, without stirring, in a small stainless steel pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile, cover a rolling pin with parchment. When the sugar turns a deep golden-brown remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, about 30 seconds, then, using the back of a fork or a whisk, quickly flick the caramel backwards and forwards over the rolling pin. (Take care as the sugar will still be very hot.) Gather the strands into a rough ball shape while gently pulling upwards and place on a clean sheet of parchment paper.

  4. For the poaching liquid
  5. This will become the crème anglaise. Pour the milk and cream in the sauté or frying pan/skillet and stir in the vanilla. Then bring to a simmer over a low heat while making the meringue.

  6. For the meringues
  7. In a large grease-free bowl, using an electric hand whisk on fast speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (or use the whisk attachment on a food mixer). Now gradually whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and the meringue is thick and glossy. 


  8. Have a glass or jug of water to hand. Then using two large tablespoons or serving spoons, shape large eggs from the meringue mixture, dipping the spoons in the water to help shape them and keep them smooth. The meringue should make 4 very large eggs. Place the meringue eggs in the poaching liquid as you form them. Cover the pan and, over a very low heat, poach the meringue eggs for about 8–9 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Make sure the poaching liquid doesn’t boil or the meringues will puff up and then collapse. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a wire rack covered with paper towel to drain. 


  9. For the crème anglaise
  10. Strain the poaching milk through a sieve into a large jug. 


  11. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 2–3 minutes. Pour over the warm poaching milk, whisking continuously. Then pour the mixture into a clean heavy-based pan and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

  12. To serve
  13. Divide the crème anglaise amongst the dessert bowls and then float a meringue egg on top.

    Decorate with a ball of spun sugar.

Teriyaki Steak

Teriyaki Steak

 

Slices of steak are marinated in a teriyaki sauce and then sautéed with mushrooms and tomatoes. Serving on a bed of flavoured brown rice for a very tasty dish.

 

Teriyaki Steak
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Marinading time: 1–2 hours
  • Cooking time: 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 575g (1 lb 4 oz) sirloin or rump steak, fat removed
  • 4 tbsp medium-dry sherry
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar/superfine sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 225g (8 oz) button mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)
  • 1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch

  • For the rice
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 200g (7 oz) brown rice (1 cup)
  • 450ml (15 fl oz) chicken stock (2 cups)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds

  • To garnish
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • parsley


  1. Method
  2. Pour the sherry and soy sauce into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

  3. Cut the steak into 1.25cm (½ inch) slices and add to the bowl. Turn the steak to coat, then cover the bowl, refrigerate and leave to marinade for at least an hour.

  4. Remove the bowl from the fridge just before preparing the rice to enable steak to come to room temperature.

  5. For the rice
  6. Put the onion, rice, stock, and cumin seeds into a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 35–40 minutes until the stock has been absorbed by the rice.

  7. When it is cooked, leave to rest for 10 minutes while cooking the steak and vegetables.

  8. For the steak
  9. First, cut the tomatoes in half and then each half into thirds.

  10. Drain the meat, reserving the marinade.

  11. Blend the cornflour/cornstarch into the marinade and set to one side.

  12. Now heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Add the steak and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, turning frequently, until lightly browned.

  13. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for a further minute.

  14. Add the tomatoes and stir in the reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for 1 minute.

  15. To serve
  16. Divide the rice amongst four plates, spooning it around the edge of each plate to form a circle. Now spoon the steak and vegetables into the centre of the rice, and spoon over any sauce remaining in the pan.

  17. Serve immediately garnished with a little parsley.

Updated: February 2, 2019

Chocolate Brandy Slices

Chocolate Brandy Slices

 

A very decadent chocolate dessert to serve with a special dinner. This velvety brandy enriched chocolate slice is filled with cherries, walnuts, and crushed biscuits.

 

Chocolate Brandy Slices
Prepares: 6 slices
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1–2 hours

  • Ingredients
  • 10 digestive biscuits
  • 115g (4 oz) good quality, plain/dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, cubed (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 1 egg
  • 85g (1½ oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 40g (1½ oz) glacé cherries (¼ cup)
  • 40g (1½ oz) walnut halves (⅓ cup)
  • 2 tbsp brandy

  • You will also need a rectangular mould about 22 x 11cm (8½ x 4¼ inches), a small loaf tin/pan is ideal.


  1. Method
  2. Line the mould with a piece of cling film/wrap, long enough so it extends over the edges.

  3. Now put the digestive biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush coarsely with a rolling pin. Set aside.

  4. Next rinse the cherries and leave to dry.

  5. Then break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a pan along with the butter. Melt over a very low heat, stirring frequently. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat.

  6. In a small bowl, beat the egg and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat this into the melted chocolate and butter until the mixture is smooth.

  7. Halve the cherries and reserve 6 halves.

  8. Now reserve 6 walnut halves and chop the remainder.

  9. Fold the cherries, chopped walnuts, crushed biscuits, and brandy into the chocolate mixture.

  10. Spoon this into the prepared mould and decorate the top with the reserved cherries and walnut halves.

  11. Refrigerate for 1–2 hours to become firm and then remove 30 minutes before serving to allow to come up to room temperature.

  12. To serve, remove from the mould by using the edges of the cling wrap/film to help lift it out. Then cut into 6 slices.