Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fruit buns -Hot Cross Buns

I was recently introduced to this delicacy and ever since we tried them, I have been working hard to master my own recipe for this delicious fruit buns.
Traditionally, the Hot Cross buns are eaten in countries with British influence during Easter time, but they continue to enjoy them throughout the year as fruit buns, which is basically the same bread but without the white cross on them.

I found that there are two ways to get the cross done and I color coded the options in this recipe so it is less confusing. Cross Option N°1 and Cross Option N°2.

The first option is mostly visual as it doesn't have any added flavors but it makes the buns look very professional. It's made is with a mix of flour and water and you have to draw the cross before you bake the buns. In the list of ingredients I refer to this way of making the cross as "Cross Option N°1"

The second option is easier and sweeter too, and it consists in drawing the cross after the bread has been baked and cooled down, with a mix made out of icing sugar and milk. In the list of ingredients I will refer to this way of making the cross as "Cross Option N°2"

I will take the time to explain both ways and i hope it is not too confusing. So, here we go with the recipe:
For the dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup of chopped raisins (you can use any other dried fruit chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of salt

For the Glaze 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
For The Cross Option N°1
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 6-7 tbsp of water 
For the Cross Option N°2 
  • 3/4 cup of Icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp of milk 

  1. In a large bowl mix eggs, warm milk, sugars, butter and yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes until it gets foamy.
  2. Add to the bowl the rest of the dry ingredients including the raisins and mix with your hand until it forms a dough. (if it is too sticky add  an extra 1/4 cup of flour).
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes by hand or until it looks smooth and it doesn't break or separate anymore.
  4. Grease a large bowl and sit the dough in it. Cover it with a damp cloth or cling film and let it rest for 90 minutes. I am using here the pictures of my Burger Buns but it is the same procedure.
  5. Punch the dough down and cut into 16 pieces (first in half and then half of half...etc until you have 16 pieces) and form balls with them.
  6. Place the buns on a lined baking tray 1 inch or 2.5 cm apart from each other. (I use a silicone mat on top of the baking tray and with that I don't have to grease it or spray it but if you don't have one of those, you can use parchment paper and spray it with baking spray or grease it with butter. 
  7. Cover the buns with a tea towel, and again let them rest in a cozy place for an hour or until they double their size.
  8. Preheat oven at 350 °F - 180 °C (If you want the Cross Option 1, this is the right time to make it, the instructions are below)
  9. Bake for 13 minutes or until golden.
Make the glace while the buns are in the oven
For the Glacing now:
  1. In a small pot mix sugar, water and vanilla and bring it to a light simmer.
  2. As soon as the buns come out of the oven brush the glace all over them.
  3. Now you just have to wait for your buns to cool down a bit to eat them. (If you want the Cross Option N°2, after they are completely cooled down is the right time to do it, instructions below)
At this point, your Fruit Buns are ready, enjoy them with your family or wrap them to give to someone, they make a great homemade gift that anyone can enjoy over a nice cup of tea. 

Now you will see below the instructions for the cross on the hot cross buns. 

Cross Option N°1
  1. Mix flour and water and place it in a little bag and snip the tip of one corner of the bag so you can pipe it onto the buns.
  2. After Step N° 8, that is right before you are going to pop them in the oven, make a cross mark with the back of a knife on your bun making sure you don't cut through the dough, just mark it so the flour mixture doesn't fall of place.
  3. Pipe the mix following the marks you made. Now continue with step N° 9 and the glacing as indicated above.
 Cross Option N°2

  •  Mix milk and sugar and put it in a piping bag.
  •  After your buns have been baked, glaced and completely cooled down, draw the crosses on top of them with the icing sugar mix. After that you just have to wait until the crosses dry and you are done.

If you have any questions about the recipe or any of the techniques that I explain here, please leave me a comment and I will reply as soon as possible.

See you soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Teaching children to help around the house - Setting the table properly

When we decided to home-school our kids for the elementary stage, we knew that all the responsibility of teaching them everything they need to know until they reach first grade was on us, but our plan wasn't to teach our kids just information, we wanted them to learn good working ethics, to solve problems by doing things, by working hands on and of course have fun while doing it. 

So I started with a small task that proved to be very useful specially when I am onto a million things and dinner is on the stove and the recipe says that you have to keep stirring or else it will stick to the bottom... you know what I mean?

Anyway, this task is "How to serve the table properly". By properly, I don't mean the royal way... I just mean properly for a family dinner. We try to teach our children Kindness and Politeness over Etiquette and Politics, just because being kind has opened way more doors for us than being "politically correct" a kind person can recognize their mistakes and apologize easily, a kind person cares for others, they might not know where the fish fork goes, but they always try to be appreciative for other people's hard work and kind people are helpful whenever and wherever they see a need and this is what we want our children to be, kind people.

I came up with this little design of a place mat. I printed and laminated it. At the beginning I was planning on printing lots of them and use them as the actual place mats but, I am not one that likes to waste... so yeah, I just made one and they use it as their model.

My boys use this print as a guide to set the table and it has been working great for them. I hope you and your little ones find this useful.

Hope to come back soon with more fun ideas to teach children to help around the house.