Thursday 29 March 2018

Easter Biscuits make happy bunnies

Easter Biscuits
I always love these simple Easter Biscuits. Grandma usually made a traditional version, rather like Georgian Shrewsbury Biscuits. Sometimes she would make a plain iced version. She would never use artificial colouring but natural flavourings such as lemon or orange juice.
Easter Biscuits
8 oz /225g butter
4 oz/110g caster sugar
12 oz / 340g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 lemon zest grated
2 eggs (beaten)
2oz /50g currants

Pre heat the oven to 375F, Mark 5, 190C.  Cream the butter and sugar. Mix the cinnamon, mixed spice and lemon zest into the flour. Then mix the flour and egg alternately to the creamed mixture. Divide the dough into 2.
For traditional biscuits
Add the currants to half the mixture and knead lightly.  Roll out the dough ¼ inch/5mm thick and cut into Easter shapes (e.g. bunnies, chicks and eggs) place on trays lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven to a golden colour for about 12-15 minutes.  
For iced biscuits
Omit the currants. Roll out and bake in the same way as the traditional biscuits. To make the icing mix 6oz/175g icing sugar with 1-2 tsp lemon juice, adding it gradually until you have a smooth mixture. Either pipe or simply spread the icing on the biscuits once they are cool.
 Wrap them up as an Easter gift. 
How long will they last in the tin?  

What's going to make you a happy bunny? 

Monday 12 March 2018

Hot Cross Buns one a penny, two a penny ...

Every year in the weeks before Easter, Grandma would make Hot Cross Buns. She would leave the dough to rise on the hearth of the kitchen range. I use a sunny windowsill, airing cupboard or a warm place near a radiator. I’ve updated Grandma’s traditional recipe using fast action yeast – which makes it very easy! 
Hot Cross Buns
What you need...
250ml/½ pint milk
50g/2 oz butter cut into pieces
7g sachet fast action yeast 
450g/1 lb strong plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
35g/1½ oz sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
50g/2 oz currants
50g/2oz mixed peel
Vegetable oil
Shortcrust Pastry for decoration    
How to bake...
Heat the milk until nearly boiling, add the butter and leave to cool to hand temperature. Stir the yeast into the cooled milk mixture.  Mix the flour, mixed spice and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and egg. Mix to a soft dough.  You can do this in a food mixer with a dough hook. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size. Add the currants and mixed peel. Knead on a floured board or worktop for 10 minutes or so until smooth. 
Cover with oiled cling film. Leave to prove again in a warm place until doubled in size. Turn out and knead for 2-3 minutes. Cut the dough into 10-12 pieces and shape into buns. Place on a greased baking tray, cover with oiled cling film and put in a warm place until doubled in size.  Make a small amount of shortcrust pastry, roll out and cut into thin strips. Brush with milk and place across each bun to make a cross. Bake in a hot oven (425F, Mark 7, 210C) for 15 minutes. Brush with a glaze made from milk and sugar and allow to cool. 
Bake and eat them on Good Friday before the chocolate egg rush on Easter Sunday and sing the old nursery rhyme. 'Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!' Will you try them?