We recently hosted 17 adults and 9 babies for a Christmas lunch, the perfect way to road-test a new house (especially the kitchen!). The secret to it running smoothly… good preparation (and a kitchen with plenty of bench space and a big oven!). Here’s the menu …
Instead I made the cocoa balls as well as some dairy, gluten and sugar free blueberry muffins. The blueberry muffins won’t make it to Hey Bernice, they tasted like they were free from all those things, as well as the enjoyment factor!
The raw cocoa balls have made it, and should’ve made it here about a year ago (which is when I took this photo below) they are a winner…
What would you say if asked what Easter smelled like? I would say hot cross buns…
I’ll have to confess our house has been smelling like Easter a lot lately (but more about that later).
If asked this same question when I was younger I would have said rosemary (not the distinct perfume of a distant elderly relative, but the fragrant herb!). I guess you want to know why rosemary, don’t you?
When we were kids (under 10 years old) we, my sister and I, would usually go to our grandparents house in a small seaside town called Point Lonsdale for Easter Sunday lunch. Our Aunt and Uncle, and two cousins would usually be there too. We loved going, but the trip was made especially sweeter at Easter due to the annual chocolate egg hunt.
Our Grandparents Gideon and Judy (Gran and Grandpa to us) would buy the hallow, egg sized chocolate eggs (and lots of them) and hide them all around their beautifully manicured garden. (Yes, I am getting to the rosemary bit)… Around their house was a neatly trimmed hedge of rosemary which seemed to be the hiding place of choice for these eggs. In our mad rush to collect the most eggs we would be diving our hands, arms and heads into this rosemary hedge to secure those Easter eggs. Resulting in a very vivid memory of Easter being associated with the smell of rosemary.
On a side note (perhaps you could even call this a confession)…my sister and I were particularly good at the Easter egg hunt. Completely motivated by greed, but nonetheless we always triumphed.
However, every year we had to face the inevitable. Regardless of how many eggs we collected in that hunt we were directed by Gideon our grandfather to combine all the eggs and divide them evenly with our two cousins. I hated that part, and felt it grossly unfair that we did all the work, and then had to hand over ‘our’ eggs to our cousins. The strange thing about that… we went back every year with the same drive and enthusiasm to find the most eggs, knowing what the outcome would be. Perhaps our motivation wasn’t greed after all, simply the thrill of taking part in an Easter egg hunt?
Let’s move on from my childhood egg hunt issues, cause I would like to share with you the recipe responsible for the hot cross bun smell in our house. I’ve made these twice now, and they worked both times. Based on that alone, I am branding this a good recipe. But when you also add that they taste great, and are really easy to make – you’re onto a winner! I made these in the Thermomix, but I have included a non TM recipe option too.
Hot Cross Buns
20g mixed peel
250 g warm milk
500 g bakers flour
70 g butter
45 g sugar (or I use honey)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
15 g dried yeast (or 20g fresh yeast)
100 g sultana
TM = Thermomix instructions
Finely chop the mixed peel.
TM: Place the mixed peel into the TM bowl and chop for 10 seconds on speed 10, then set aside.
Warm milk and place in a large bowl
TM: Place milk in TM Bowl and mix 1 minute, 90 degrees, speed 1
Place all remaining ingredients in the bowl with the milk and mix together.
TM: Place remaining ingredients, including the mixed peel (except sultanas and currants) in TM Bowl and mix for 6 seconds, speed 7
Turn mixture out onto a clean bench and knead for 10-15 minutes. The hot cross bun dough is very sticky, especially at the start. To aid the kneading process, sieving a thin layer of additional plain flour onto the bench and over the top of the dough. Having slightly wet hands also helps. You can feel if the dough is ready. It’s not sticking anymore and it springs back and is smooth. All the sultanas are sticking out and you have to poke them back in.
TM: Set to closed lid position and Knead for 3 minutes, interval speed (should be soft in texture). Add sultanas and currants and Knead a further 1 minute, interval speed. Turn dough onto floured bread mat and hand knead for a few seconds
The remaining instructions are for both techniques…
Place in a greased bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 60-90 mins, or until double in size.
Pre heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius
Cut and shape into dinner roll size buns and place together on a greased/lined baking tray. Cover and prove in a warm place a further 15-20mins
Pipe with crosses and bake in oven for 15-20mins or until golden. Brush with hot sugar syrup while warm.
80g plain flour 1tsp oil
pinch salt 80g cold water
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a thin paste.Pour mixture into piping bag (or sandwich bag with a very small corner cut off). Pipe crosses onto buns
2tbsp boiling water 2tbsp sugar
Place ingredients in small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Eggs and other Easter activities…
I’ve been collating lots of Easter ideas on my Easter Pinterest Board, so please take a look if you are searching for baking and crafty Easter inspiration. Some of my favourites I have included below…
A no-dye option is the polka dot glitter eggs by Better Homes & Gardens (US)…
Another great resource is the 60 egg activities for kids from Tinkerlab for some creative Easter egg inspiration. My favourite of their long list of links being the ice eggs from A little learning for Two… with the warm weather we have been having lately these would be ideal for Easter.
Or as the blog eighteen25 suggests you could prepare some bunny tails…
Or some absolutely scrumptious looking bunny cupcakes as Betty Crocker …
Easter can be great fun, with so many activities centered around the occasion, especially in the weeks leading up to Easter. So get into the spirit and bake or create something for Easter this year.
Most of you would be aware that I started a new business six months ago http://www.theinklingeffect.com.au which has been sapping a lot of my apparent spare time (’cause there’s so much of that floating around with two kids under 3!).
The only time I do get to cook creatively is when I am whipping up some supper to take to the evening workshops I host on Social Media, Content marketing and blogging.
So much so that Apartment Therapy featured it in a recent post about buying or DIY kids aprons…Gran would be so proud to see her Liberty print shirts featured like this. If you want to read the blog post where they discovered my DIY upcycling kids apron you will find it HERE.
Does everyone store their Christmas decorations in the highest, most out-of-reach place in their house? It makes complete sense, you would happily bet money that you are not going to need them for at least another eleven months when you put them there!
I have been retrieving my boxes and bags of decorations from those far-reaching places. However I did purchase my new favourite Christmas decoration when I was recently on holiday in Queensland… which could have been prompted by the view from my room…
Actually let me go back a little further. Before I went on holiday, I was rediculously busy (which resulted in me needing that holiday, and why I haven’t been giving you guys much love). I decided not to return to my corporate job in Melbourne and started a new business (all in the last 3 months!).
I will write a detailed post about The Inkling Effect, styling my home office, and what I’ve been cooking for my workshops… but until then, those interested can read all about my new little baby The Inkling Effect here: http://www.theinklingeffect.com.au
The details of my new business can wait… we were talking about Christmas decorations – I do love a good tangent though!
So I bought a gorgeous drift wood wreath on the Sunshine coast in Queensland, and packed it in my suitcase to bring home for our door… and it was worth all the effort.
I couldn’t help myself, and added the star fish and turquoise ribbon to give it even more of a coastal Christmas theme.
You can head over to my Pinterest Christmas board for even more Christmas decoration inspiration.
Or read my Aussie Christmas Menu post that is always extremely popular at this time of year.
You may even want a complete overload of Christmas mania from my previous Christmas decoration posts…
- Christmas Decorations Dilemma which details all the choices available for decorations
- Or make your own wreath using my tutorial on how to make the Toilet Paper Roll Christmas wreath featured above.
Stay tuned for my next post about my favourite online Christmas gifts this year…