Our first term of year 11 has finished, and boy has it been hectic! Life is always filled with never-ending to-do lists, but the past two months have been something on an entirely different level. Georgie and I were discussing it the other day, and even though only two months ago we had very little homework, it now is hard to think of what it’s like to not be constantly treading water to stay afloat, but never fully getting out of the pool.
Busy is the only way I ever want my life to be, but that work school–life balance is as elusive as unicorns and dragons these days. To-do lists are my way of keeping it manageable.
Sometimes I get home from school and my head is in no place to revise stoichiometry, or language devices, so I ditch the idea of homework and I cook. Some days that’s just the way it has to be.
The first time I made these I came home and was staring into the cupboards, looking for inspiration for afternoon tea, when I saw a packet of yeast sachets that was near it’s expiry date.
With Easter just around the corner, there was really no doubt about what had to happen. The recipe I’ve been itching to perfect was going to get a work out.
One of the brilliant perks of living in the tropics is the speed with which dough rises because of the hot steamy climate. I can leave the dough rising, go have a shower and dress, come back and it has already doubled in size. In about 20 minutes.
I’ve always found Jamie Oliver’s recipes reliable, delicious and simple. If I’m looking for something to cook, his website is one of my very first destinations. I use it for making pasta from scratch, and quick weekend one-person meals when I’m home alone, and now, for hot-cross buns. I’ve adapted it a bit to my tastes, and to what we had available.
HOT CROSS BUNS
ADAPTED FROM JAMIE OLIVER’S HOT CROSS BUNS
TIME: 2.5 HOURS – 30 MIN PREP, 1.5 HOURS RISING, 20 MINS COOKING
200ml (7/8 cup) milk
50ml (¼ cup) water, plus 2tbsp for white crosses
55 g unsalted butter
2 x 7 g sachet dried yeast
3 ¼ cups (455g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting, plus 2 tbsp for white crosses
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup (50g) caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp light taste vegetable oil (I used canola)
150g dried fruit (I used sultanas and raisins but any cut up dried fruit will do)
50g mixed peel
Honey, to glaze
Heat the milk and 50ml water over low heat in a small saucepan until lukewarm.At the same time, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.Pour the warmed milk into a bowl, add the yeast, and set aside.Sift the flour into a large bowl, and add the salt, sugar and spices. Make a well in the centre, and pour in the butter, then yeast mixture, and finally the egg. Mix with a fork until you have a rough dough, then knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is soft and springy.Rinse out the bowl, pour the oil into the bottom, and roll the ball of dough in it until covered. Drape a damp tea towel over the bowl, and leave it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour, less in hot weather, more in cold weather).Bash the air out of the dough with your fists. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the dried fruit and mixed peel until well incorporated. Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces, place on a lined baking tray, and leave in a warm spot, covered with a damp tea towel until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).Whilst waiting for the buns to rise, mix 2 tbsp water and 2 tbsp flour in a small bowl, and once the buns have risen, use the mixture to draw a cross on top of each with a spoon or piping bag.Preheat the oven to 190oC (375oF), and bake the buns for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.Transfer to a cooling rack and brush with honey. Slice open the buns, slather with butter, and serve.