Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hot Cross Buns

Happy Easter everyone!  It's such a beautiful Sunday morning and we had this scrumptious hot cross buns for breakfast today.  I know that traditionally these buns are served on Good Friday, but clearly I didn't plan for Easter week--hung my head shamefully :)  This year's Easter is such an easy going day for my family, in fact, I think I'm going for a hike instead of having dinner later on.

I've made hot cross buns a long time ago.  I blogged about it and posted in my old food blog; I can't recall how that recipe fares with this one.  Remember that I'm making a promise to re-post recipes from the old blog?  This is a re-post on the buns but with a new recipe which I think is as equally good.  That's why I had two for breakfast with my coffee!

Hot Cross Buns

Yields 10 buns

500 grams bread flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

75 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

50 grams granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

250 ml warm milk

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

175 gram dried mixed fruits--I've used a combination of raisins, currants, yellow raisins, and candied orange peel.  The amount is up to you, you could omit one or the other fruits.

1 egg, beaten

Hot Cross Paste

100 gram unbleached all-purpose flour

30 gram confectioners' sugar

80 ml milk

Dissolve yeast in a bowl with warm water.  Mix together the flour, cinnamon, clove, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Rub the softened butter with your fingertips and make a well in the flour.  Pour dissolved yeast along with the egg into the well.  Bring the dough together with your hands or with a spatula.  This is a quite soft and supple dough.  If it feels a little wet and sticky, don't panic, just stay with it and be persistent.  Avoid the temptation to add extra flour.

Turn the dough on to a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes.  Just as you reach the windowpane stage, add the dried mixed fruits to the dough and gently knead for a few minutes to distribute the fruits.  The goal is to distribute the fruits evenly but not the point of them being broken.  Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with damp cloth and leave to prove for about 90 minutes.  A good place to put the dough will be in a preheated oven that has been turned off.

As an alternative, a mixer with the dough hook attachment can be used if needed.  The steps will be the same as above.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a clean work surface and gently pat to release the gas.  Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces, form into rolls and place on a nonstick baking pan or lined with parchment; leaving enough room to allow each bun to proof and grow without touching.  Leave to proof again for 60 to 80 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  While waiting, make the paste for the crosses by mixing together the flour and sugar in a bowl.  Add milk to form a paste that is a piping consistency, add a tablespoonful or more if needed.

Brush the buns with the beaten egg.  Spoon paste into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.  Bake the buns for 25 to 28 minutes or until rich golden in color.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Note:  if you like, you can brush the buns while they are still warm with a simple sugar glaze.  It is made by combining 50 ml water with 50 gram granulated sugar, heat until sugar is dissolved and let cool.  It will add shine to the buns.

Source:  adapted from Fireside Bakery's Hot Cross Buns, the link can be found here.  Italics is mine.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chocolate-Orange Carrot Cake

My family has been a willing tester for all my baking experiments.  As long as the result is edible they seldom complain even if I point out my mistakes; the texture is dry, the whole is thing is too sweet, it isn't quite done, etc.  Previously, there're only my husband and son who get the burden of eating most of the baked goods, but since my parents are around, they've been my victims as well.

As in the case of chocolate cake, the more often I make the happier my testers are.  They always welcome chocolate cake in any form, not unlike this chocolate-orange carrot cake.  I've made this cake before and blogged about it in my old food blog.  I've a plan to resurrect the stories and recipes from the blog but it's been a slow going.  Anyway, this chocolate cake is better the second time around.  The first time I made it, I made the frosting slightly different; possibly because I was just learning to bake and frost cakes.  This time I must say that the frosting tastes so much better, light and fluffy.

The cake itself has won my heart the first time.  It is moist and chocolaty with the addition of chunks of mandarin orange in the layer.  There's coconut in the cake with give some chewy texture which I don't mind, but you can omit it if you want.  I've made several changes from the original recipe though not much.

This whole cake lasted a while but everyone didn't get bored eating it!

Chocolate-Orange Carrot Cake

Serves 8 to 10

For cake:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cups sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups finely shredded peeled carrots

1 cup (packed) sweetened flaked coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For frosting:

2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrated, thawed or Grand Marnier

Additional canned mandarin orange segments, drained, patted very dry

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch high sides with nonstick spray.  Using electric mixer, beat 1 1/2 cups oil and eggs in large bowl until well blended and thick, about 2 minutes.  Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; beat at low speed to blend.  Increase speed; beat 1 minute longer (batter will be very thick).  Stir in carrots, coconut and orange peel, then orange pieces.  Divide batter between prepared pans.  Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes.  Turn out onto racks; cool completely.

Make the frosting:

Stir chocolate chips in heavy medium saucepan over very low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.  Spoon 1/3 cup chocolate into small bowl and reserve for decoration.  Beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until fluffy.  Beat in remaining melted chocolate and orange juice concentrate or Grand Marnier.  Place 1 cake layer on platter.  Spread with 2/3 cup frosting.  Top with second layer.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.  Arrange additional orange segments around top edge of cake.  Rewarm 1/3 cup reserved chocolate to pourable consistency if necessary.  Drizzle orange segments with chocolate.  (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.)

Source:  Bon Appetit, December 1998