Saturday, 25 April 2009

Afternoon tea      
Hot cross buns, or I could call them raisin buns, since Easter has passed. Anyway, they are delicious. I've never made bread until a few weeks ago, but I'm gradually gaining confidence. This recipe is based on one from the Waitrose site. The weirdly shaped bun in the picture is because I tried cutting a cross in the top just before baking. However, the knife wasn't sharp enough, and it just deflated the poor thing.

Hot Cross buns

450g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp  spices e.g. a mixture of cinnamon, grated nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves, ground allspice
30g caster sugar 
9g Allisons dried yeast 
250g Dried Mixed Fruit
50g butter
250ml milk
1 medium egg, beaten

2tbsp milk
2tbsp water
2tbsp sugar

Heat the milk until tepid, sprinkle in 5mls sugar and the yeast. Leave 10-15 minutes until the yeast froths, then add the melted butter.
Sift the strong flour, salt and 3 tsp mixed spice into a large bowl to lightly combine the ingredients. Add 50g sugar, the yeast mixture, and the beaten egg to the flour mixture. Stir thoroughly to form a soft dough.Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (I do the mixing in a Kenwood, then use the dough hook to knead for 7-8 minutes.)Turn the dough out onto lightly floured work top. Gently knead in the dried fruit. Weigh out 95g dough for each bun and shape each piece into a ball.
 Then place onto the lightly greased, large baking sheets, making sure that there is space between each of the buns. Cover with clean, damp tea towel or lightly-oiled clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 1-1½ hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown in colour.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Place the milk, cold water, and sugar in a small pan and heat gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When the buns are cooked, transfer them onto a cooling rack and brush the glaze over each one twice. Allow to cool.

Vegetarian tonight

Croustade which is breadcrumbs and nuts with flavourings made into a base and baked. The topping was cauliflower in a nutmeg flavoured white sauce. The topping was quite delicate in flavour. When I've made croustade before, the topping has been a robust flavoured ratatouille, or courgette bake.

from Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown

110g flaked almonds
110g grated cheddar
175g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
1tbsp chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
2tbsp olive oil

Mix all the ingredients and press into a lightly oiled baking tin 28x13cm. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 degC.

For the cauliflower topping I made a basic bechemel sauce flavoured with nutmeg, a spoonful of mustard and grated parmesan. Like a lot of my cooking, I don't measure the quantities. So, I put about 30g butter into a pottery bowl. I put the bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes to melt the butter, I then mixed in enough flour to make a stiff paste and dried this for 1 minute in the microwave. I then whisked in some milk, heated for 2 minutes and whisked again. I continue this process adding enough milk to make a thickish sauce. all this is done in the microwave. Towards the end I add the mustard and cheese. The cauliflower had been separated into florets meanwhile and cooked in boiling water. The cooked cauliflower was mixed with the sauce and put on top of the croustade.

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