Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday

I am yet to see these in the stores here in Florida, but if I was back in Australia I would see them in every supermarket and bakery, the traditional "Hot Cross Buns" for Good Friday. I miss this tradition and because we're going out of town this Easter I may need to make these ahead of time.

Ok, so the hot cross bun, or cross-bun is a type of sweet spiced bun made with currants or raisins and leavened with yeast. It has a cross marked on the top which might be effected in one of a variety of ways including: pastry, flour and water mixture, rice paper, icing, or intersecting cuts.
In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion.

According to Wikipedia :) English folklore
includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year....hmmm, year-old buns sound delicious :)

Enough of my hoo-ha, let's get to the recipe :)


* 1 envelope (1/4-ounce) dry yeast

* 3/4 cup sugar

* 1 1/2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F.)

* 1 stick of butter, melted

* 1 egg

* 1/2 cup of raisins

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

* 3 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

* 1 large egg, beaten

* 1 cup powdered sugar

* 3 tablespoons milk


Combine the yeast, sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the butter, egg and raisins. Mix for 1 minute. Add the salt, cardamom and flour. Beat on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then, beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set-aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the bowl and invert it onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Roll up the dough, beginning with the long side and stopping after each full turn to press the edge of the roll firmly into the flat sheet of the dough to seal. Press with your fingertips. Tuck and roll so that any seams disappear into the dough. Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place the rolls on the baking sheet, 1/2-inch apart. With a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg evenly over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and set-aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Bake until lightly brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a rack. In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and milk. Mix until smooth. Ice each bun with the frosting in the shape of a cross. Serve warm.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bring on Happy Birthdays!

Next week is my husband's birthday. Looking at all the fabulous blogs and resources on the web, I found some great DIY projects for party decorations.

From the fabulous Australian lady at "twoandsix" I found the idea of newspaper bunting. She uses vintage paper and books, cuts out the triangle designs, then threads these onto cotton twine. I personally don't like the idea of cutting up a book so I'm thinking that newspaper or magazines would be a better choice. In any case, these look great!

In keeping with the recycle theme, you can also use newspapers to make fabulous garlands, like the ones I found HERE!

And no party is complete without party hats, so if you have forgotten how to fold the newspaper into a paper hat, I have attached instructions :)

Happy Birthday to you baby! And Happy Birthday to our great friends who are having birthdays these week :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Update on Onion Skin Dyeing

This past Sunday our friends Karla and Ryan came over to paint eggs for Easter and as they arrived I realized that I had not bought the cheesecloth for the onion dyeing! I thought that perhaps I could use rubber bands to secure the onion skins to the eggs, and surprisingly it worked out well! This image is a little blurry, but this is what the eggs looked like in the pot. As you see I also left the remaining onion skins in the whole mix (boil for 20 minutes).

And when they come out, remove the the rubber bands and onion skins, pat dry and rub the outside with vegetable oil to give them a shiny look.

We also did a little experiment to see what would happen if you boiled the eggs in the onion skins without wrapping them, and not surprisingly they simply took on a deep brown color, in the next image you'll see the difference where the eggs in the top row were wrapped and those in the bottom row were simply boiled in the onion skin mixture.

Thanks to Ryan for the great blue color also (must be because you're an optical engineer!)
Happy Egg decorating!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bring on Natural Egg Dyeing!

My family is European and Easter is a huge celebration, with Easter egg decorating taking up a whole day and kitchen! My dad and I used to sit at our kitchen table and paint eggs while my mum made cakes and other yummy things for Easter. One of the things we would always do was to dye eggs using onion skins, I thought I would post the instructions for you all to try at home. For those of you who are coming to my place this Sunday, we'll be doing this, bring as many onion skins as you can!

What you will need:

Raw eggs
Cloth squares (8 inches)
Rubber Bands
Pot of boiling water

and Onion skins of course....

1. Wet the onion skins and cloth squares, onion skins are fragile when dry so be careeful to keep the pieces as large as possible.

2. Wrap onion skins around the raw eggs covering the entire egg. Wrap the covered egg with the cloth tightly, then secure with the rubber band.

2. Lower the wrapped egg into a boiling mixture of 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar and salt. Boil for 20 minutes.

3. Remove eggs and let cool (you can run cold water over them to cool them down). Unwrap cloth and onion skins. Oil the eggs to give them a shiny finish.

Alternatives include Tumeric dyeing, coffee and Red Cabbage dyeing, check them out HERE!

Happy Easter Egg decorating!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bring on Pi Day!

Ok, so some of you may know that I am a physicist so I have to write about "Pi Day", which is celebrated on March 14th by Math enthusiasts! Some of you may not be aware of this day, but there are even E-Cards what you can send to all your friends on Pi Day (don't get too excited now!).

Ok, now for some nerdy facts! Pi, Greek letter π, is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (Pi = 3.1415926535…). With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal. It is an irrational number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating. The symbol for pi was first used in 1706 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737.

Now for the fun stuff :) I could only really find "Pi" stuff that was related to food, firstly a Pi-cake which you can make by cutting it out of a square cake.

Of course, no Pi Day dinner is complete without a set of "Pi plates", which you can purchase HERE.

And for those of you who like a little cocktail with your Pi, why not try the Pi-Tini, made special with your very own Pi Ice-Cubes (recipe from Thinkgeek)!

Embrace your inner nerd and have a Happy Pi Day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More of the Irish spirit!

Ok, so I have been madly trying to find simple ideas for St.Patrick's day as it is coming up next week and as I mentioned, I need simple ideas that are transportable!

Ok, for those of you who love sugar cookies (yummy, yes please), then you may like this idea from Martha Stewart , Cloverleaf Cookies

And you all know how much I love sweets, so I am waiting to see what our talented friend Marisa, at Sweet n' Flour is planning to bake for this holiday!

If you are feeling very domestic you may want to try a different twist on St.Patrick's Day baking and make some "Celtic Knot Cookies".

If I do end up cooking on St.Patrick's day, I will also have to make my husband's favourite dish, potato pancakes. Here is an Irish version of this food that we (Daniel and I) love :) The recipe is below!

Happy St.Patrick's Day Planning!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bring on St.Patrick's Day (part II)

Only nine more days until St.Patrick's Day! I thought I would post this DIY as many of you I suspect will be going to a pub to celebrate this holiday and I wanted you to all have something simple to make and take with you.

According to popular legend, the fifth-century Christian missionary to "heathen" Ireland used a three-leaf clover to explain the Trinity. The shamrock later became the Irish national emblem.

There are many cheap decorations in the stores, but nothing beats making your own, here's a great idea from Martha Stewart Living

Shamrock Boutonnieres!

Instructions available HERE

Happy St.Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bring on the Oscars!

Technically this is not a Holiday, but if you live in LA then you may disagree :) I think the idea of hosting your own Oscar party is wonderful, and there are great ideas and downloads on the Oscars website to help you.

However, I absolutely adore the idea on "Twig and Thistle"

The popcorn bag download (click on the link above for the downloads) can actually be used for any occasion, but the invitations are fabulous (it may be a little late for this year, but something to have for next year perhaps).

Happy Oscars (and Happy Birthday Katie Kurycki on the same day)!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bring on Easter

You may think this is a little early considering that Easter is one month away, but I have already started decorating and wanted to share my excitement with you all :)

Pottery Barn has the most beautiful decorations for Easter, and I fell in love with the Robin's eggs that they had for sale and bought some a couple of weeks ago. They had almost sold out so in my desire to get more (to put into the apothecary jar I had bought and filled with Spanish moss), I searched the web and found some more HERE

This set comes with 6 of the blue eggs I love, and 6 slightly greenish eggs that I think I will also like, potentially the green will break up the "blueness" of the display. I plan to take a picture of my jar and post it here soon, but in the meantime I am posting this one from the Pottery Barn website so you get an idea (make sure you check out all their wonderful items for Easter):

Ok, so on the blue Robin theme I have also found these gorgeous soaps for the bathroom this Easter

And of course no table can be complete without matching blue Robin's nest plates

Bring on Easter...I cannot wait!!