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Category Archives: Family and Historical Recipes

Berries and Cheesecake Trifle

Here’s a trifle recipe for Christmas from the archives. I thought it worth posting now if you’re looking for ideas for interesting looking – and tasting – deserts for Christmas 2022.

The recipe is adapted from a recipe created by Queen Vanilla products and Dr Oetker products. I liked the idea of the cheesecake filling instead of custard and cream. The recipe also created some green chocolate bark, which I thought pretty festive too.

Ingredients

Cake and berries:

4 x 250g punnets berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or any others you fancy). Frozen berries are fine too, I used a mixture of both.

A good slosh of an orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier)

A little caster sugar to taste if the berries are too sharp in flavour

2 sponge cake layers (bought is fine here as it’s only going to be dowsed in liqueur and berry juice)

Cheesecake filling:

280g cream cheese

90g unsalted butter

2 2/3 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

450 mls cream

Green chocolate bark:

150g original Oreos roughly blitzed in the food processor – you should have some bigger bits and some crumbs

300g white chocolate

A few drops green food colouring

Method

Combine all the berries in bowl, leaving a good handful for decorating the top of the trifle. You should cut the strawberries in halves unless they are tiny. Splosh on some orange liqueur, and add a little caster sugar to taste if the berries need sweetening. Leave for a few hours to allow the berries to release their juices.

Cut up the sponge into squares about 5 cms 0r 2 inches. It really doesn’t matter too much – they just need to be able to fit into your trifle bowl. You will also need to cut some odd shapes to fill in the gaps. Make a layer of sponge on the bottom of the bowl. Add a decent layer of berries, making sure you spoon some of the liquid over the cake so that it turns red.

To make the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add icing sugar gradually, beating till the mixture is well combined. Add the vanilla bean paste. Whip the cream in separate bowl until just thickened, then fold into the cheesecake mixture.

Add layer of cheesecake mixture to the berries layer in the trifle bowl.

Repeat the layering – sponge, berries and juices and cheesecake mixture, ending with a berry layer. The number of layers you get will depend on the size of your bowl and your generosity in layering. As you can see from the photo I got 3 layers of sponge and berries and 2 of cheesecake mixture. You should leave enough of the cheesecake mixture to decorate the top (3 tablespoons or so should do it). Refrigerate until ready to finish the decorations and serve.

To make green chocolate bark, heat the white chocolate in small pieces in a microwave safe bowl on medium power in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the green food colouring and chopped Oreos. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Refrigerate until set.

To finish the trifle, pile the remaining cheesecake mixture on the top of the trifle. Scatter the left over berries on the top of the “snowy” mixture. I used only fresh raspberries for the top, as they looked the most elegant. Break up the green chocolate bark and place as artistically – or in my case rustically – as you please. You don’t need to use all the bark – the recipe makes quite a large quantity. On the other hand if there are small children around they will love the white (now green) chocolate and you could use the whole lot on the pudding!

Christmas Cheesecake

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Here’s something different for Christmas Day lunch. If you’re looking for an alternative to Christmas pudding, what about a cheesecake? Make this cheesecake festive for the day by decorating it with fresh and sugared fruit, and chocolate leaves.

The recipe hails from the Sydney County Council in the 1960s and it continues to be my go to recipe for cheesecake. What makes it really delicious is the sour cream topping!

You could make it using an electric mixer, but I find it really easy to make using a food processor.

Ingredients

Crumb Crust
225g plain sweet biscuits
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Cream Cheese Filling
500g cream cheese
150g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 free range eggs

Topping
300 ml sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 level tablespoon sugar

Method

Crush biscuits very finely and add nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased 8″ springform tin bringing mixture within 1/2 ‘ from the top of the tin.

Put cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Pour mixture into uncooked crumb crust and bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Beat together the topping ingredients and pour over hot cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool, then store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Decoration

Decorate with sugar frosted fresh fruit and chocolate leaves. I used cherries, strawberries and black grapes for this cheesecake. To make the sugar frosted fruit, coat fruit in lightly beaten egg white then dip in caster sugar.

To make the chocolate leaves, dip sturdy leaves in melted dark chocolate, leave to set in the fridge, then gently peel away the leaves leaving the chocolate imprint intact.

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Family Christmas Cake

I’ve posted my family’s Christmas cake recipe several times over the years. It’s a wonderful cake, a recipe passed down from my grandmother over a hundred years ago. It continues to be made with great tradition and enthusiasm 4 generations on by sisters, mothers and daughters!

It’s certainly one of the baking experiences I look forward to every year at Christmas time.

The original cake recipe was for a “12 Pound Christmas Cake”. The recipe probably originated from the 1800s and was the recipe for the bottom tier of a wedding cake.

This version of the cake is very big – and will feed a lot of people! My sister still makes this cake, and I do on occasion. My favourite version of the cake however, is the “half size” cake, which I generally make each year.

It’s the quantities and method for this version I’ve listed below.

I’ve included a number of photos of the cake – same recipe, but made at different Christmas times.

Ingredients

250g butter
250g brown sugar
315g plain flour
375g raisins
375g sultanas
125g glacé cherries
65g glacé peaches
65g glacé pears
125g glacé apricots
65g glacé pineapple
65g crystallised ginger
65g mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 teaspoon glycerine
Juice of half an orange
Finely grated peel of half an orange
1/4 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Method
Grease a cake tin and line with baking paper or aluminum foil. I use an 18cm or 7″ square tin  or a 18cm or 7″ diameter round tin. You may end up with left over mixture with this size, so you could go up a size. I like a high cake and this cake doesn’t rise so you can fill the smaller tins fairly full.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C then turn back to 135 degrees C.  The principle of cooking a rich fruitcake is to put the cake into a preheated oven and cook very slowly. This size cake does take a long time!
The original recipe says to mix by hand in a large basin. This was lots of fun when we were growing up making the family Christmas cake but now I suggest using an electric mixer.
Cream butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time.

Mix in the sifted flour lightly. Stir in spices, essences, glycerine, fruit juice and brandy/whisky, and finally stir in the fruit the larger varieties of which have previously been cut roughly. There is no need to wash the fruit. If the fruit is wet it tends to sink to the bottom of the cake.

Bake about 1½ to 2 hours or until the top is pale brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

It’s a little hard to be more precise than this as the weather, the quality of the flour and individual ovens have a lot to do with cooking time. You can put a piece of foil over the top of the cake during the last hour of cooking if the cake browns too quickly.
When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour ½ cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cake and wrap in a towel till cool.
Turn out of the tin onto a board or large flat plate.

Almond Icing (Marzipan Icing)
250g ground almonds
375g icing sugar
1 egg white
Juice of ½ lemon

Mix all the ingredients to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into sections – one large ball for the top of the cake, the rest for the sides of the cake.
Brush the cake with apricot jam which will help the almond paste to stick. Let the cake rest for a day.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Beat eggs lightly, add icing sugar and lemon juice.
Apply to cake with a palette knife. Be generous with this icing, to create a “snowy” effect.
Leave to set for at least a couple of hours.

The cake keeps well – up to a year – although it is at its best when eaten within 3 months. But it never lasts beyond New Year in my house!

A Week in Shetland

October 2022 and I’m back in Shetland, this time to pursue food and history. In 2019 it was all about stunning coastal walks and brilliant wildlife. And Shetland made an impression. My musings on this visit are recorded here.

So with my long suffering but enthusiastic travelling companion in tow, I certainly got to grips in a determined way with the culture and the stories of Shetland food.

A highlight was A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival – blogged recently here. What an amazing experience. A really good way to encounter local produce and producers. I tasted samples of tablet, sponge cake, sourdough, bannocks, oatcake and some gin to wash it all down. Have I left anything out?

Some wonderful restaurants too, in Lerwick where we were based, doing innovative food with local, seasonal food. I think I had seafood wherever I went – Shetland seafood is gorgeous.

Some highlights were beautiful scallops and mussels at No 88 Kitchen and Bar, exquisitely presented dishes at Da Steak Hoose and the best crème brûlée ever at C’est La Vie!

But I need to do a big shout out to the Cake Fridges of Shetland – what a fantastic, quirky idea!

These are fridges literally set up on the roadside where the owner bakes cakes and treats which you buy by putting money in an honesty box. And that’s it! Shetland is such a community minded place that people are honest.

I visited The Cake Fridge in Aith – the original cake fridge, and bought hot coffee and tiffin – a kind of chocolate slice. Very Shetland and quite delicious.

On the island of Unst, seemingly in the middle of nowhere we were delighted to find a cake fridge, this time more accurately a cake dolls’ house! And on a cold and windy day we bought shortbread, more tiffin and tablet to keep us fuelled for exploring this most northerly island.

History and archeology were also on the agenda. And we struck gold when we met the eloquent and knowledgeable Chris Dyer from Garths Croft on the island of Bressay. Chris is an archeologist, historian and farmer, who is a passionate enthusiast for native and heritage breeds and sustainable farming.

An afternoon spent at Garths Croft was an immersive experience in the workings of a small croft. Readers of this blog may be aware of my love of sheep – and I was fascinated by the sheep that Chris breeds for colour. And I was particularly taken by Dinky, a sheep that had been hand reared from birth by Chris. I admit to being a bit sentimental where sheep are concerned…

Chris also is highly informed on local food and the importance of food miles in agriculture and food production in Shetland. We ate some outstanding local dishes on Chris’ recommendations.

One of those recommendations was the wonderful Speldiburn Cafe which we visited when we were on Bressay. Now here was great Shetland food – soups, bannocks. cakes and tiffin, all home made and all served with a welcoming smile!

We were able to tap into Chris’ other great passion, archeology, when we drove up to Unst, the most northerly point of the UK, driving across two islands via two ferries to reach this historic place. This bleak and windswept island is evocative, thought to be the first point of contact in the North Atlantic of the Vikings, and a treasure trove of archeological sites pertaining to Viking history.

At Haroldswick, a replica Viking Long House, where we had lunch, and a Viking ship the Skidbladner, give visitors some idea of Viking life. The replica ship actually made the voyage from Sweden to Shetland. Apparently bound for the United States in 2000, the ship stopped off in Unst where it remains today. Getting inside the ship gave me a real appreciation of how hard those Viking sea journeys must have been.

I had visited Unst in 2019, staying at Saxa Vord, at the service quarters of an old RAF base. Some of the base facilities are now being developed as part of the planned SaxaVord Spaceport, creating a successful, internationally recognised “new space business”. Today however Saxa Vord is abandoned, and we wandered around the deserted site. Another reminder of the historical strategic importance of the northerly isle – to the Viking invaders and latterly to those seeking to defend the UK on its northerly tip.

I think of all the sites we visited the ruins of Framgord Chapel and graveyard left the greatest impression on me.

Chris brought us to this special place above the beach at Sandwick. The chapel probably dates to the 12th Century. The graveyard was what fascinated me. With sweeping views of the beach, the graveyard is a testament to history and spirituality. Remarkably it’s still in use today, and contemporary headstones lie side by side with early Viking Christian graves.

On a more poignant note there is the burial place and memorial to crew members of a Norwegian ship torpedoed in 1940 during World War 2. The lifeboat was wrecked at Muness in Unst. The wild seas are still the graveyard of latter day northern seafarers.

We saw much more on Unst, and this would only have been the tip of the iceberg. The archeological treasures of Unst are numerous and bear more research.

I would add here that any trip to Shetland to discover its history is enhanced by visiting Shetland Museum in Lerwick – a really interesting and informative collection.

Of course I did and saw a lot more! I just wanted to give a snapshot, the highlights, of a memorable visit to wonderful Shetland. Highly recommended.

Tropical Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake. It’s usually associated with Halloween, although I think it can be eaten any time of the year!

It’s a really simple bake, a cross between cake and bread. It has no butter or oil in it. The moist flavour comes from soaking dried fruit in tea. Irish whiskey is also included in the soak for an added kick!

My version is “tropical” because I substituted rum for whiskey, and I added pineapple to the dried fruit. And some cream cheese frosting made it a bit more luxurious.

Ingredients

375g mixed dried fruit

100g tinned pineapple, cut into small pieces

50ml dark rum

250ml cold tea

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

125g brown sugar

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 free range egg

Cream cheese frosting

60g light cream cheese *

30g softened butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pineapple juice

150g icing sugar

Glacé or tinned pineapple for decoration

Method

Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the rum and cold tea. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Grease a 20 or 22cm square cake tin and line base with baking paper. Or you could use the more traditional loaf tin – grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

I used a square cake tin for my version as I was able to cut the barmbrack into more pieces.

Mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and spices in a large bowl. Break in the egg and mix with a wooden spoon.

Add the tea and rum liquid a tablespoon at a time. You may not need all of it – add enough to make a fairly wet dough. But don’t add so much that you end up with soup!

Stir in the mixed fruit and pineapple until everything is combined. Spoon the batter into the lined tin, and put in the preheated oven.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Wrap in cling film and aluminium foil and leave for 1-2 days. The flavour matures over a couple of days.

Unwrap the cake. You could serve as is, with lashings of butter which is traditional, or you could make a cream cheese frosting.

Put the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and pineapple juice in an electric mixer, or even in a food processor. Mix or process until well combined.

Add the icing sugar gradually, beating until all is combined.

Spread the icing liberally over the barmbrack and decorate with pieces of glacé or tinned pineapple.

The barmbrack will keep well for a few days.

*you could use normal cream cheese not the light version – if so, you would need less icing sugar. Just add enough icing sugar to make a smooth icing.

A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival 2022: an Australian’s Perspective

It’s not a surprise to readers of this blog that I love Shetland. I fell in love when I first visited in 2019.

These northerly islands with stunning scenery, rugged coastlines, windswept beaches and marvellous unique wildlife capture the imagination.

I love the islands’ Viking heritage, too, evident in archaeology, language and place names.

But it’s the food and food culture that really draw me to the islands. An abundance of local produce, a cultural shared food heritage from the many influences of sea locked islands and a generosity of spirit to share and connect with food make for some wonderful food experiences.

So it was with great delight that I learned that the Taste of Shetland Food Festival was back again as a live event in 2022.

The pandemic has put on hold so many festivals and celebrations, and when a food festival returns from a place I hold dear, there was only one thing to do – book my ticket and fly from Australia!

So a week in Shetland – some walks, tours and good restaurants – culminating in a fabulous foodie weekend. I crammed a lot into one Saturday in the Clickimin Leisure Complex in Lerwick as I already had my Sunday organised going to Unst, with Chris Dyer of Garths Croft, which was another unique cultural experience in Shetland not to be missed.

So here’s a snapshot of my day and some photos which I hope capture the spirit of the Festival. First up, after the official opening, Nick Nairn, Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstration:

A highly entertaining and informative session where Nick cooked lamb tikka skewers, sassermaet meatballs and miso salmon. All highlighting local Shetland ingredients. Nick knows his stuff and I’ve never laughed so much in a cooking show!

Next, a wander round the stalls. So many fabulous food and drink providers showing off their products! I could have eaten half of Shetland in a walk around. And I possibly did eat quite a lot of the lovely samples…

Too many providers to mention them all here, the photos will give you the idea. And lunch was a delicious beef pie from Scalloway Meat Co and a chance to sit down!

The afternoon was spent in two fabulous masterclasses, learning more about sourdough and bannocks.

Sourdough by Gus Dow taught this sourdough baker a whole lot more about the science of sourdough. Gus started with a Halloween pumpkin loaf fresh from the oven and then baked a couple of batard loaves, as well as showing how to make a sourdough starter. Great stuff!

Shetland Bannocks by Kevin Smith was the definitive workshop on bannocks for me, giving me insiders’ tips to shaping and cooking these notoriously tricky flour items. And I learnt some new Shetland vocab too. Can’t wait to try these new skills!

I also got to meet Marian Armitage, Festival Chair, “Proud Shetlander, home cook and award winning food writer”. Wow! My Festival experience was complete.

For more info on the Festival and A Taste of Shetland, click here for the website.

A great day all round, meeting, talking and eating – so congratulations to the organisers and to all involved for a successful 2022 Festival.

“Garths Croft Bressay Shetland”

Bishop’s Bread

This egg rich loaf, part bread, part cake, laden with colourful glacé fruit and flaked almonds is a truly festive bake for religious occasions, such as Easter.

It’s an Austrian recipe, called “Bischofsbrot”, the name alluding to its Christian origins.

I became interested in this recipe after reading about in a publication of Sydney Living Museums, that wonderful organisation that looks after many historic properties in Sydney and NSW. The link to the original recipe is here.

The recipe comes from Rose Seidler’s recipe collection. Rose was the mother of the renowned architect Harry Seidler, whose family emigrated to Australia in 1946. There are a number of Rose’s recipes written in German in the SLM collection.

Curator and colonial gastronomer at SLM, Dr Jacqui Newling has researched and baked the recipe, from a translation by Avril Vorsay. This certainly whetted my appetite to give it a go!

It’s a pretty simple recipe – the hardest part is probably separating the eggs. It’s traditionally baked in a loaf tin, but I baked mine in 16cm/6.5 inch springform tin. This made a higher, round loaf.

Another thing to remember is that you need to wait a day before you cut it. I guess that patience is a virtue!

Ingredients
140g butter, softened, + 1 teaspoon
extra butter to grease the baking pan
140g icing sugar, sifted +extra to dust the loaf after baking
6 eggs, separated
200g glacé fruit, diced*
Zest of 1 small lemon*
100g slivered or blanched almonds
140g plain flour, sifted, + 1 tablespoon extra to dust the fruit

*You can replace the glacé fruit with
a mixture of colourful dried fruit such
as apricots, apples, sultanas and
cranberries, soaked in freshly boiled
water for 15 minutes and then well
drained. Replace the lemon zest with
store-bought mixed peel for
additional citrus flavour, colour and
texture.
Note: Bishop’s bread needs to be
made a day before serving.

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan forced). Grease the base and sides of a loaf tin* with 1 teaspoon of butter and dust with a little flour.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Dust the fruit and zest with a tablespoon of flour and toss to lightly coat the pieces (this helps to prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake). Stir the fruit and the almonds into the bowl, and fold in half the flour. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold them through the batter with the remaining flour, being careful not to overwork the batter.

Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 40–50 minutes, or until the loaf is nicely browned on top and cooked through. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the loaf – the skewer should come out clean and dry.

Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack and dust it with the sifted extra icing sugar.

Note: Once completely cooled, store the loaf overnight in a container covered with a cloth. Do not slice until the next day.

*or round springform cake tin

2022 ANZAC Biscuits

Yesterday, Saturday, I made my annual batch of ANZAC biscuits, that delicious treat associated with Australian and New Zealand soldiers of the First World War, in preparation for ANZAC Day 2022 on 25 April.

The wonderful blog “The Cook and the Curator”, from the team at Sydney Living Museums, has done some research into the origin of ANZAC biscuits.

“There has been much debate as to the origins of the iconic Anzac biscuit, and whether they were sent in care packages to soldiers at war, or if they were made by soldiers at ‘the front’. They were certainly enjoyed by Australians long before the First World War, but under different names.”

Here is the link the the article:https://blogs.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/cook/anzac-cookery/ if you would like to know more.

The Cook and the Curator also note that coconut is an optional ingredient and it wasn’t added till the 1930s. By all means add some to to your biscuits, but personally I’m not a fan.

My recipe is based on this authentic recipe, with a small tweak or two.

I add golden syrup, as I love the toffee flavour it imparts. Most recipes do include golden syrup.

Somewhere I read in a recipe that browning the butter after melting it gives a greater depth of flavour. It really does! To compensate for the fact that you lose a little bit of the butter by browning it, I have added another 15g of butter to the recipe.

It really is a straightforward ANZAC biscuit recipe – very easy to put together and quick to bake.

Eat the biscuits on the day they are baked but they will keep well too, if there are any left!

Ingredients

165g salted butter

180g rolled oats

120g plain flour

125g brown sugar

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 tablespoons boiling water

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. 

Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat until melted. Once the butter is melted, cook for about 3-4 minutes, swirling the pan often. The butter will foam and turn a golden brown. Remove from the heat and put into a bowl to cool slightly.

Mix the rolled oats, flour and sugar in a large bowl.

Combine the melted butter and golden syrup in the same saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and whisk to combine. Remove from heat.

Add the butter/golden syrup mixture and stir until well combined.

Take tablespoons of mixture and make into balls. Place the balls onto the baking trays, allowing space for spreading. Don’t flatten the balls!

Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are dark golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on the trays. The biscuits will firm up as they cool. Now remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight tin. They keep well for a few days.

Hot Cross Buns 2022

I really look forward to baking hot cross buns each Easter. And each Easter I try a new recipe or tweak one of my old ones. They’re all delicious – I’ve never met a hot cross bun I didn’t like!

So I’m a bit late this year, but I will be making the 2022 version later this week.

But in the meantime, here are the links to my favourite hot cross buns, from the experts from the Great British Bake-off, to Jamie Oliver and Paul Hollywood, to my own sourdough version.

So long as the buns are beautifully baked a deep golden brown and served with lashings of butter, you can’t go wrong.

Great British Bakeoff Hot Cross Buns: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2019/04/19/hot-cross-buns-great-british-bake-off/

A great recipe with lots of fruit and spice including an apple.

Jamie Oliver Inspired Hot Cross Buns: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2016/03/26/hot-cross-buns-jamie-oliver-inspired/

I like this recipe with stem ginger in the original bread mix plus cranberries as well as sultanas in the fruit.

Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2015/04/03/paul-hollywoods-hot-cross-buns/

A bit more work with this recipe with 3 provings but a great resulting flavour.

Sourdough Hybrid Hot Cross Buns:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2021/03/23/sourdough-hybrid-hot-cross-buns/

If you have a sourdough starter, my recipe makes a delicious hot cross bun with a beautiful flavour!

Shetland Buns

I visited Shetland pre-pandemic when we could travel from home in Australia to the UK. I was so taken with the islands – the breathtaking scenery, the wildlife, the history and culture and of course the food!

This recipe is based on a recipe called Yeast Buns from Margaret B Stout’s “Cookery for Northern Wives” published in 1925. This book documents many Shetland recipes and was an insight into traditional cooking.

I made and blogged the buns a while back, see here. I’ve made a few more tweaks this time. The original recipe makes a lot of buns! So this time I divided the recipe in two, making a batch of 12 buns and I also made a lovely large fruit bun, with lemon icing.

I converted the imperial measurements to metric. doing a little bit of rounding up or down, but as I wanted to keep the integrity of the original measurements, I didn’t change anything too drastically.

I’ve also adapted the recipe to make in a KitchenAid or similar.

I’ve tweaked the ingredients in these ways. I substituted instant yeast for fresh yeast. I added a lot more more dried fruit than in the original, adding extra fruit again for the large fruit bun. I also added some more flavour in the form of vanilla extract and almond essence, as well as cinnamon and allspice.

I made the large fruit bun in a paper panettone case, but you could make it in a large high sided cake tin. You would end up with a slightly wider bun, but with less height.

Ingredients

For the sponge

227g strong flour

9g instant yeast

1 teaspoon caster sugar

426 mls milk

Mixture

567g strong flour

113g caster sugar

113g butter

2 free range eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

113g sultanas

113g raisins

100g candied orange

100g sour cherries (for the large bun)

Glaze

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon milk

Icing

200g icing sugar

Juice of half a lemon

The ingredients (except for the cherries) are for both the little buns and the big one. Divide the mixture in half after proving and before shaping.

Method

Here is the method, adapted from the rather scant instructions given by Margaret Stout.

For the sponge, sieve the flour into a large bowl, then add the yeast and sugar. Gradually add the lukewarm milk, stirring to make a smooth batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel or a disposable plastic shower cap. Leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.

Prepare the rest of the mixture. Put the flour, caster sugar and butter into the bowl of a KitchenAid fitted with a dough hook and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the sponge mixture, beaten eggs, vanilla extract, almond essence, cinnamon and allspice. Mix well, for for at least 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and passes the window pane test.

Cover the mixture in the bowl with plastic wrap/tea towel/plastic shower cap and leave to rise again for 1 ½ hours.

Remove the risen dough and stretch into a large rectangle. Scatter the sultanas, raisins and candied orange, a small amount at a time, over the dough, folding the dough over after each addition. You want to incorporate the fruit as evenly as you can into the dough.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C fan forced.

Now divide the dough into two.

Take one half of the dough and divide into 12 pieces. Shape each into a ball and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover the tray loosely with a tea towel or large plastic bag and prove for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Take the other half of the dough, and stretch into a large rectangle. Scatter the sour cherries a small amount at a time, over the dough, folding the dough over after each addition.

Shape the dough into a large ball and place in a panettone case or large cake tin. Cover with a tea towel or plastic bag and prove for an hour in a warm place.

When the small buns have proved, put them into the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the buns are a deep brown colour.

Remove the buns from the oven, and while warm, brush the tops of the buns with a tablespoon of sugar mixed with a tablespoon of milk.

When the large bun has finished proving, put it in the oven and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until a deep brown colour.

Remove the large bun from the oven and leave to cool.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice to make a thick lemon paste. You may need to adjust either ingredient to get the right consistency.

If you think the buns need zhushing, you could drizzle a little of the icing for the big bun over the tops. I made this icing a little more “drippy” by adding in more lemon juice. However I iced some and also left some plain.

Both the small buns and the large bun keep well as they are enriched with milk, butter and eggs. They are quite soft, and they remain soft even after a couple of days.

You could eat either bun as is or butter liberally – I even toasted the small buns the next day and ate with lashings of butter!

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