Hot Cross Buns

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A hot cross bun is a lightly spiced, sweet bun traditionally made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but have become a popular treat often sold in bakeries year-round. These sweet buns are nicely spiced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. You can adjust the amounts and types of ground spices to suit your own personal taste. I like to add in raisins or dried cranberries, but you can also try using other types of dried fruits such as cherries.

Hot cross buns are not difficult to make, but just like any other yeast bread they require about 2-3 hours to rise twice and then bake. ______________________________________________________________________________________

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

Ingredients:

1 cup skim milk

2 1/4 tsp quick acting dry yeast (1 package)

1/2 tsp white sugar

2- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

5 tbsp unsalted margarine or butter, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon skim milk

Directions:
Option A: Using a bread maker
  1. Place all of the ingredients into the bread maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Select dough cycle.

Option B: Making by hand

  1. Gently heat the milk over low-medium heat until lukewarm.

  2. Add the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Once the yeast is foamy, gradually add to the flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened.

  4. Add the melted butter and egg and mix until incorporated. Gradually add the dried fruit and continue to knead the dough until it springs back when poked. Add more flour if necessary.

  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and then place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 90 minutes).

Both (After first rise cycle):

  1. Gently punch the dough down to release the air, and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a ‘cross’ in the top of each bun.
  3. Bake buns for about 15 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

    Glaze:Combine the confectioners sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Drizzle icing on in a cross shape.

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Twisted Pesto Bread

DSC_0411The season of soups is now upon us and what better side for a hearty soup or stew than freshly baked bread? This twisted pesto bread is a tasty twist on a basic French bread recipe. Don’t let the braiding step of the recipe put you off as it is actually quite simple!

(As you can see from the picture my bread became a bit too long for the baking sheet, so I had to bend it a bit to make it fit).

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Twisted Pesto Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water

2 tsp instant yeast

1 1/2 tsp white sugar

1 1/2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

~1/2 cup pesto, purchased or homemade

Directions:

By hand

  1. Dissolve yeast into warm water. Stir in sugar and salt. Mix in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle.
  2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until it is smooth and elastic ~ 10 minutes.
  3. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until double in size ~ 1 hour.

Bread maker

  1. Place above ingredients into bread maker as per the manufacturers instructions.
  2. Select dough cycle

Both 

  1. Punch down dough and divide into 2 parts if you wish to twist the bread or 3 if you want to braid it.
  2. Shape each part into a 10 inch strand (for braiding) or 15 inch strand (for twisting). Twist or braid the bread on either an oiled baking sheet or parchment paper.
  3. Apply pesto sauce to the bread.
  4. Let bread rise 30 minutes or until double in a warm place.
  5. Bake in 375 F oven for about 30 minutes.

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Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

Whole Wheat Cheese Biscuits

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DSC_0279 These cheesy whole wheat biscuits are a nice side to a soup, chili, or green salad. They are great because they contain more protein and fibre than a typical white flour roll or biscuit, and they are just as easy to make. For a flavourful biscuit I recommend using a sharp cheese like aged cheddar. However, you can try using any cheese that you would like. You are also welcome to add in fresh or dried herbs such as thyme or rosemary.

* If you want to use margarine but find you have difficulty cutting it into the flour, try freezing it before you start this recipe.

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Whole Wheat Cheese Biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits.

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine

3/4 cup buttermilk (or sour milk)

1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter or margarine and toss in the flour mixture until coated. Use a pastry blender or knife to blend the butter into the flour, until the butter is the size of small peas.
  3. Stir in the cheese. Pour in the buttermilk and use a wooden spoon to mix together. Do not over mix.
  4. Spoon dough onto baking sheet (about 12 biscuits).
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.completelydelicious.com/2012/10/whole-wheat-cheddar-biscuits.html

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Crusty Italian Loaf

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I love baking bread! There are few things that can make your home smell as delicious as a freshly baked loaf of bread, and it always manages to impress guests at a dinner party. Baking bread isn’t difficult, but it does require you to be around your home for several hours so you can help it through its knead and rise stages. You can avoid some of this by purchasing a bread maker and using the dough cycle (which I often do), but you will still need to be close by for about 1 – 2 hours.

This recipe was delicious and easy to make. I substituted 1 cup of the all purpose flour in the original recipe with 1 cup of whole wheat flour, and topped the loaves with basil and garlic infused sea salt I purchased at Granville Island. The original recipe also suggests you use an egg yolk wash to achieve a beautiful crusty exterior, but not having an egg yolk to spare I just used a little bit of olive oil and it seemed to work out okay.

This recipe yields 2 loaves of bread.

Tip: For crustier bread, put a shallow baking pan filled with boiling hot water on bottom shelf of oven.

Variation: To make rolls, preheat oven to 400°F After dough rises, remove to a floured surface. Punch down dough and shape into 12-14 rolls. Place on cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a moist towel and let rise for 20 minutes. Slit each roll once and paint tops with egg wash (or olive oil). Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden and baked through.

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Crusty Italian Loaf

Ingredients:

1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil (2 tbsp if you will use olive oil instead of egg yolk to spread on the bread)
cornmeal
1 egg yolk
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast with a quarter cup of warm water. Pour yeast into a large bowl. Mix in flour, sugar, salt, and remaining lukewarm water and mix in until dough starts to form. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.
  2. Turn out onto flat surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put dough into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a thick towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in size, or about 1.5-2 hours.
  3. For bread machine add ingredients according to machine instructions and select dough setting.
  4. Remove dough and place onto a floured surface. Punch down and shape into 2 oblong loaves about a foot long each. Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a moist towel and let rise again for 40 minutes. Loaves will about double in width.
  5. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. In a small dish, add egg yolk (or olive oil) and 1 tablespoon of water. Slit tops of risen bread 3 or 4 times, making slits that are a quarter of an inch deep. With a brush, paint tops with egg wash.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F Then lower heat to 400F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until golden and baked through.
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