It’s has been months since I did any sort of bread baking. I guess it’s one of those things that disappears from my to-do list as soon as things get a little busy, which has definitely been happening lately. This is a real shame because I so enjoy baking bread, the joy of warm-from-the-oven bread with butter and honey makes it worth the time and effort alone. Anyway, I’ll come back to this later. What I really wanted to write about was the bread baking I did do today… hot cross buns (well actually my crosses were more splodge-like than cross-like).
I remember making hot cross buns a few times when Mr Good and I first shared a house (that’s going back more than a decade). In those days I really wasn’t much of a cook, I used a lot of packets or jars and I certainly did not use yeast. What made me decide to make hot cross buns I don’t know – though I suspect as we were both fairly poor uni students it was probably a hankering for hot cross buns and a lack of funds to justify the price bakeries charge for just six little buns. Even in those days I couldn’t bring myself to buy cheap inferior buns with no fruit and even less flavour. Though I do now indulge in regular store-bought hot cross buns from March until Easter (at the moment I’m favouring the Aussie Farmers ones) I still find the price of good-quality ones over the top.
I’ve talked about making hot cross buns for a few years and each time I mention it Mr Good gets a slightly scared look in his eyes. You see my first attempts were not good, in fact they were terrible, rock-hard and verging on the inedible. Mr Good made a valiant effort at trying to get through them, microwaving them first and then smothering them in butter in order to get it down. Needless to say he wasn’t encouraging me to make them again the next year. However, since I seem to have mastered the art of cooking with yeast, I decided it was time to have another go.
I used this recipe and with the help of Miss Two had a batch of fifteen buns in the oven (pun intended, no wonder rabbits are associated with Easter). The dough rose like nothing else during both the first and second proving. My only stumbling block was piping the crosses on. My pasted wasn’t exactly smooth so as I piped the lumps got stuck in the opening of the piping bag and then came out with a rush due to the pressure build up. Now there’s a lesson I’ve learnt for next time.
So here are my hot splodge buns
Fifteen buns quickly became twelve as the first three were devoured by the four of us with gorgeous melty butter still hot from the oven. And these ones cost me next to nothing, four cups of flour, dried fruit left over from making my fruit mince pies, a little bit of butter and sugar, some spices and of course some yeast.
I have always loved this time of year for some reason. I like that the temperatures are starting to drop, especially at night so I can hunker down under the doona and get a decent night sleep…. in theory. I like the holidays, the long weekend and the Easter break, which means I get extra family time and usually some additional time cooking, gardening or reading. I enjoy the fact that things slow down in the garden, watering isn’t so demanding a task, and I can appreciate the hard work I’ve put in over Spring and Summer, finish off the last of the harvests, do a bit of preserving and finally get to the jobs I’ve had to put to the back of the list. In fact I think life in general slows down a bit and that’s probably what I like most about it, that and the fact that both my girls are born around Easter (though organising two kids birthdays within three weeks of each other might wear thin in the long run). So with the thought of things slowing down a bit, I’m hoping to whip up a batch of these each week.
But now onto some bread baking questions for you all. I would really love to be able to bake bread at least once a week, but I just can’t seem to find the time at the moment. I used to bake a free form cob style loaf on Saturday morning, but now that I have to hit the pool with Baby Good that time has gone. I’m wondering if I should invest in a bread maker. So, are they worth it? All I really want to be able to do in make a standard white or wholemeal loaf that we can use for toast or sandwiches. Will a bread maker save me time or make it an easier process for me? I don’t want to have to buy special bread mixes from the supermarket. It seems everyone is into sourdough at the moment, both in cafes and for the blogosphere, but I must say I’m not a real fan. I just don’t really like the sour taste, I especially dislike it when it’s topped with eggs. All I want is an ordinary, but tasty and healthy loaf.