Hot cross buns

It’s Easter Sunday today.

I made some hot cross buns.

They turned out ‘nice’, needing a little more cooking than 20 minutes as the recipe stated. I also added in the tangzhong technique

There are many things I would do differently, if I made these again, perhaps I’ll share when I do make them again…



  • 1/4 cup (57g) apple juice or rum
  • 1/2 cup (78g) mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup (78g) raisins or dried currants
  • 1 1/4 cups (283g) milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for the topping)
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (53g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (11g) salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups (539g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour


  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) milk


  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (128g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing


  1. Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.
  2. Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to “shrink wrap” itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid.
  3. When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients (including the eggs and the egg yolk from the separated egg); hold out the fruit for the time being. Knead the mixture, using an electric mixer or bread machine, until the dough is soft and elastic. It’ll be very slack, sticking to the bottom of the bowl and your hands as you work with it (greasing your hands helps). Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.
  4. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.
  5. Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You’ll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.
  6. Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.
  8. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the buns out of the pan (they should come out in one large piece), and transfer them to a rack to cool.
  9. Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to make these buns a day or so ahead of time? Try the tangzhong technique, a Japanese method for increasing the softness and shelf life of yeast rolls. Begin by measuring out the flour and milk you’ll be using in the recipe. Now take 3 tablespoons of the measured flour and 1/2 cup of the measured milk; put them in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and forms a thick slurry; this will take about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then combine it with the remaining flour, milk, and other dough ingredients. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Well-wrapped and stored at room temperature, your finished hot cross buns should stay soft and fresh for several days.


Vegan burger

A few weeks ago Ignacio made some vegan burgers. He bought some burger patties from Beyond Meat, this product is called Beyond Burger and is among other things, made of pea protein.

The final product was quite tasty, it’s clearly not meat but the texture is convincing enough.

Magdalenas de desayuno

Some breakfast muffins…

I had some bananas I’d been keeping all week for banana bread. I changed my mind and decided to revisit an old muffin recipe. This time I made a few alterations, added more dates (just to finish of the packet rather than having some left behind), I didn’t have crunchy peanut butter so I added 50g of crushed walnuts. I also decided I did not want to add sugar but changed my mind and added 2 tablespoons of black treacle.

The muffins turned out very nice, sweet and soft and went very nicely with a glass of (oat) milk.

Given that I have adapated this recipe, I felt that I could give it another name. I had initially started with ‘banana, date, walnut and peanut butter muffins’ . Ignacio pointed out that I had basically just given a list of ingredients. He then told me that the Spanish name for muffins was magdalenas, which I may have known before, but became an interesting fact for Sunday morning. Coupled with the fact that we ate these for a late breakfast, the name magdalenas de desayuno (breakfast muffins) was born.


500g ripe mashed bananas (about 4 large bananas) 

125ml sunflower oil 

1 teaspoon vanilla paste 

125g smooth peanut butter 

50g crushed walnuts

1 egg beaten 

350g plain flour 

2 tablespoons black treacle

1 teaspoon of baking powder 

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 

250g chopped dates or figs 


1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas 4. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases. 

2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl with the sunflower oil, vanilla bean paste, peanut butter and beaten egg. 

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and raising agents. Add the chopped dates and crushed walnuts

4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the banana mixture, mix until combined.

5. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cases. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

The original version comes from: Have Your Cake and Eat It, Mich Turner,

My previous offerings:

Banana, date and peanut butter muffins

Bananas back

Fig, banana, peanut butter muffins

Mafalda corta with chickpeas and za’atar

It’s been a while since I’ve opened my Ottolenghi recipe book, Simple. This week I felt it was time to cook something different from the usual curries I’ve been making of late. I thought it might be nice to revisit a previous chickpea and pasta recipe, which I recall was very tasty.

This time round it felt, simpler to assemble. It was rather soothing to be peeling, chopping and grating in the Saturday morning sunshine.

The smells generated while the chickpea mixture was on the cooker were also quite nice too. Calming, fragrant and not overpowering at all.

The original recipe uses gigli pasta. In the recipe notes we are told

Gigli means ‘lilies’ in Italian, and their floral wavy edges are a great vehicle for the chickpeas and anchovies in the sauce. Orecchiette (ears) or conchiglie (shells) are also good for scooping and work really well here, too.

I did not have any of those three pasta types. Instead I had Mafalda corta in my cupboard. A quick Wikipedia search later I discover:

Mafaldine, also known as reginette (Italian for little queens) or simply mafalda or mafalde, is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta. It is flat and wide, usually about 1 cm (½ inch) in width, with wavy edges on both sides. Mafaldine were named in honor of Princess Mafalda of Savoy (thus the alternative name “little queens”).

The final product, made for a lovely Saturday afternoon lunch. Difficult to describe the dish, save for saying it has warm flavours and made me feel good.

I needed to feel good because it’s been a somewhat full-on week. Although I started with a few days of restful annual leave (my last for this financial year), the last two working days of the week were packed beyond belief and, as well as events in my personal life, I thought I was going to break. I really did. As usual it’s time in the kitchen, under my control, creating something that I like, that saves me.


45ml olive oil, plus extra to serve

½ onion, peeled and finely chopped (100g prepped weight)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

10g thyme leaves, finely chopped

25g anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (about 7)

1 lemon: finely shave the skin of ½, then juice to get 2 tbsp

2 x 400g tins of cooked chickpeas, drained (480g drained weight)

1 tsp soft brown sugar

400ml chicken stock

200g gigli pasta (or conchiglie or orecchiette)

50g baby spinach leaves

15g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1½ tsp za’atar seasoning

salt and black pepper


1. Put the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, anchovies, lemon skin, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden. Reduce the heat to medium high, then add the chickpeas and sugar and fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas begin to brown and crisp up. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and simmer for 6 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside. You can make this in advance, if you like, and warm through before serving.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3. Stir the spinach and parsley into the chickpeas: the residual heat of the sauce should cook the spinach, but if it doesn’t wilt, just warm the chickpeas gently on the stove. Transfer the pasta to the pan of chickpeas and stir to combine. Divide among four bowls and sprinkle the za’atar on top. Finish with a drizzle of oil and serve.