Sunday, 14 March 2010

Spring Cleaning and Not Cross Buns.

Hello? Anyone still there? Seems I fell off the blogging wagon for a little while there. I needed a bit of time to get back into focus, and whilst doing so it made sense to do a bit of spring cleaning, both literally and virtually. (Sniff of course slept through the whole thing.)

So...ta da! A whole new look. I decided that much as I loved the red and black of old, it was time to lift my head and see some clean bright lines. It felt right for what I hope will be sort of a new start. It's amazing isn't it just how dramatic the impact of sunshine is. It totally controls my mood, and every year I try and pretend it doesn't. I've spoken before about how I used to be such a winter person, I loved the short days and the dark nights to wrap up into, loved the layers of clothes and root veg stews. I still, every year, try and pretend that this is true, and in some regards it is, I love pies, and sausage and mash and hearty stews. I love crumbles and steamed puddings. But the older I get the more I come to realise that the sunshine is crucial, and without a heavy dose I am one depressed little lady. This year it hit harder than every as a long dark winter was combined with a whole bunch of uncertainty and insecurity in my own goings on. 

Things are still mostly uncertain, and I remain as insecure as ever, but the sunshine is making me smile through it. As are wonderful inspirational meetings with new friends, and in lovely places, and with old friends on hilarious outings. 

Oh, and cake of course. Yes, cake is definitely a crucial element. I have baked lots in the last couple of weeks, and so hopefully will have lots to share. I shall start with something delightfully seasonal, a treat that I wait patiently for each year, and then wish I just gave in and made them all the time: Hot Cross Buns. Oh, I love them so, with their hint of spice, and slight tartness from mixed peel and the sweetness of the raisins. Not to mention how unbelievable perfect they are at soaking up melting salted butter. 

These are my "not cross buns" because somewhere along the way I forgot to put the crosses on, and then actually couldn't be bothered, and then realised that I liked them just as much without and it saves a step in the process, not to mention a few more bits of washing up. 

Not Cross Buns - Makes 16 small(ish) or 8 large. 

500g plain flour (in two 250g batches in different bowls)
125ml Cold Milk
125ml Boiling water
10g instant yeast
pinch of salt
2 tsp mixed spice
50g caster sugar
zest of one unwaxed lemon
75g raisins
75g mixed peel
50g melted butter
1 beaten egg 

In one medium bowl (or the bowl of a food mixer) place 250g of the flour. In a jug mix the cold milk and the boiling water to give you a lukewarm liquid. Add a pinch of sugar and then the yeast. Leave until bubbles form and then pour into the flour and make a sticky dough. Leave to rise until doubled, about 45-50mins. 

Meanwhile mix the other 250g flour with the mixed spice, caster sugar and zest. Then add the raisins and peel. Once the wet batter has doubled, add the dry mix to it, along with the melted butter and half the beaten egg and form into a wet dough. It will be sticky, but manageable. Leave this to rise for a good hour, again until doubled. 

Turn out onto a well-floured surface and gently shape into a ball. Divide this into two, then four, and then eight (or sixteen depending on the size of bun you want). Shape these pieces in to slight rectangles and place on a greased and floured (or parchment covered) baking sheet(s). Leave for a final rise of 20mins. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Brush with the remaining beaten egg and place in the oven for 15min, until slightly golden. Then see how long you can hold out before tearing one in half, slathering in salted butter and stuffing into your face. I lasted five minutes, which I thought was pretty good, but then again I wasn't on the ball and hadn't prepared the pot of tea until the last moment. Rookie error! 

Enjoy everyone...


Nicole said...

I'm still here. Love the new look and the new header. I love a white blog, I recently changed my personal blog to white and I love it. Thought about changing Arctic Garden and cleaning it up as well, especially now that we have the option of creating pages.
Sounds like we are both in the same situation these days. I am trying to blog more as well, but just kind of mucking through things right now. We just gained an hour of light in the evening now, so I hope it will help on this end as well.
Wishing you luck with it all and hope to see more of you on the blog. I miss our correspondence.

Rosy said...

Loving the new look! Really clean and that pic at the top is just perfect!
Yum, I love hot cross buns (cross or no) - they look amazing!! Fancy dropping some round later?? ;-) xx

Jumbleberry Orchard said...

Good to have you back - with a fantastic recipe, to boot (hot cross buns are my favourite part of Easter - better than chocolate!)!

New layouts seem to be in vogue at the moment ;-)

Kavey said...

Still here too!
I do not cross buns too as making the cross is just an extra fiddle for no taste gain!
New look is classy! :)

The domestic novice said...

Know what you mean about getting back into focus - am having to do the same thing this end. Spring couldn't have come at a better time, in my opinion!

And the new look is great!

Cat xx

p.s. Sniff looks so content. Miss P has taken to following the sun around the flat - we keep finding her in the oddest of places.

siri said...

Cute buns!

I for one, really like the new look. To tell you the truth, the old one was kind of difficult to read. Love the header photo too...

Rebecca said...

Yay! I'm glad everyone likes the new look. Funnily enough I did a bunch of research and apparently white on black is supposed to be easier on the eyes and easy to read, but Siri you're right, it was pretty tough, and I decided that I could live with it no longer!

Nicole - I miss our correspondence too, hopefully I will change that this week.

Rosy - you're welcome for tea and hot cross buns any time!

Jumbleberry - hehe, yep, I thought I should get with the programme!

green ink said...

Those not cross buns look so good! The only time I have made not/hot cross buns was when I still lived at home and my family insisted on me making them fruitless. What the...?!

Glad to hear that the sun is shining in your corner again. A long time without sun is tough.

And thank you for your lovely comment on my last post.


lynne said...

Aww - sniff looks so snoozy. Lola often has a look of 'determinedly sleeping' when she is downstairs and noise is bothering her. Upstairs they take a double bed each.....typical!

Heather said...

Dear Rebecca,

I often visit your blog and haven't commented before, but I could not resist a comment about crosses.
I make hot cross buns from Jane Grigson's recipe in English Food and she suggests making the crosses from marzipan. I guess you have to like marzipan to do this but my family loves it so there would be a riot if I left the crosses off. It adds a little something to the overall flavour.
Also her recipe involves proving the dough without the fruit and then putting it in before shaping the buns (I think this is one rise less than you give your dough.) This is good for me because one of my kids hates the fruit so I can make some for him without any.

Rebecca said...

Hi Heather,

Thanks for commenting, it's always good to hear from people who are reading in the background!

I LOVE the marzipan crosses idea! I'm a huge fan of marzipan. Now I just have to make a new batch.

Good trick about adding the fruit later for those who don't like it. I shall have to bear that in mind.

Thank you, and I hope you keep reading...