Pre-warm eggs in their shells in hot, but not boiling water.
1 cup SIFTED bread flour
Stir constantly,quickly, and with vigor over medium-low heat until smooth and velvety by pressing dough against the side of the pan, then rolling into ball with spoon again and again for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the dough stay still in the pan or else it may burn.
Place dough in large mixing bowl, allow to cool slightly – tepid or lukewarm is fine. Very quickly, adding only one at a time, and beating well after each addition:
3 or 4 whole eggs
To determine if a fourth egg is needed, check the consistency of the dough. It should be soft, not dry.
Drop from spoon onto parchment lined baking sheets, making eight smaller or four large dollops. Bake at 450* for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown and dry. Allow to cool slowly by opening oven door, and avoid drafts. Some cooks prefer to poke a toothpick into the sides of the cream puffs to release any steam trapped inside. I have never needed to do this, but it might work best for your kitchen and location.
Cut off tops with a sharp knife (or pull apart), scoop out filaments of dough, if necessary, and fill with fresh strawberries, raspberries, chocolate mousse, sweetened whipped cream, etc. Dust tops with confectioner’s sugar.
** Because these puffs are not sweetened, it’s possible to fill them with tuna salad, creamed chicken, etc. and served as a savory dish instead of a sweet.
I will return soon with new recipes, local dining and fun shopping ideas – and even a few cooking factoids. Until then, I am catching up on all of my work now that I am a …
Before sharing this recipe with you, Dear Reader, I have to say that for some reason the BakingGods were with me when I made these and … well, modesty prohibits me from describing the ethereal dough with a mere hint of orange and the lightest touch of sweetness.
But I have to admit that I so enjoyed the making of and the baking of these springtime buns, that I quite neglected to measure each and every ingredient.
This business of tossing spices here and scattering herbs there is pretty normal behavior for me, but I generally try to remember to measure accurately and time carefully when a blog post is involved.
Nonetheless, I just added the orange pulp and juice to the dough until it seemed about right, and I kneaded in enough juice and vanilla soaked raisins to look OK. For good or bad, that leaves the guesstimating of such things up to you. My only advice is to close your eyes, listen to your inner cook, and trust your instincts.
Well, here is the exact recipe for a sweet dough that is best eaten within 24 to 48 hours of coming out of the oven. Any ingredients or steps in the process that were dealt with more creatively are italicized.
HOT CROSS BUNS
Basic Sweet Dough
As with any bread machine recipe, please refer to your particular machine’s manufacturer’s directions first.
(For 2 pound loaf)
3 eggs, large at room temperature
1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine
After fitting with paddle, place all ingredients in order given above in bread pan. Place pan in machine, choose the dough setting.
While waiting for dough cycle to complete, gently grate only the orange zest from two medium oranges into 8 ounce measuring cup. Squeeze both oranges for fresh juice, being sure to include some smooshed pulp, then add to zest already in cup. Add a tablespoon or so of vanilla extract, and dehydrated orange peel if desired – 1+ teaspoon – then add enough water to bring level to 3/4 cup. Add a handful or two of raisins to liquid, allowing to soak during dough cycle.
Allow bread machine to complete cycle, approximately 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan and place in large, lightly greased bowl. Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes before continuing.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. preheat oven to 375*
Place dough on flat surface. Scoop plumped raisins from measuring cup, being generous with any accompanying liquid, but careful not to soak dough.
Knead raisin/orange juice mixture into dough.
Divide dough into 12 -16 equal parts. Gently form each part into a ball, then place each ball two inches apart on baking sheets. Using scissors, snip small Xs into top of dough (unless you forget all about this step – oops!).
Cover lightly with lightly oiled/buttered waxed paper and allow to rise in draft-free location until almost double in size.
Bake Hot Cross Buns 17-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, and while cooling, prepare icing.
Remaining orange juice/pulp mixture
- Combine ingredients, adding small amounts of sugar just until achieving desired consistency. Using a teaspoon, pour over tops of cooled buns in the shape of an X. If buns are too warm, or if icing is too thin, buns will be glazed rather than decorated, but they will still taste delicious!
A quick dessert, an unexpected ingredient, or a sneaky way to include veggies in any meal … available in a rainbow of flavors and colors … tah dah – it’s gelatin!
Since 1682, this versatile ingredient has been used as a simple source of protein ideal for soldiers on the move. But within 200 years, patent-holders and cooks pushed that proverbial envelope and began mixing the granulated gelatin with fruit juices and syrups to make tasty jellies.
I am delighted to write about gelatin because I have two vintage cookbooks that elevate this wiggly-jiggly desert of my childhood to unexpected – and sometimes bizarre – culinary heights.
From the 1928 cookbook comes a sponge made with pineapple juice and rice. Other delicacies include a shrimp and orange salad, or the refreshing cucumber and Cayenne pepper salad.
Included near the end of the same cookbook are certain Rules that hold true even today; Metal molds chill more quickly than those made from other materials; placing the filled mold in a bowl brimming with crushed ice and salt speeds the jelling process considerably, and a rotary beater is necessary when whipping the dissolved gelatin.
Although undated, the ‘newer’ cookbook appears to be an early 1970s collection of recipes. Returning to gelatin’s roots as a basic protein, some of the recipes combine lemon, orange or cherry gelatin with ham, duck, bleu cheese, chicken or crab meat.
At first those might sound like unnatural pairings, but the flavors of ham and pineapple or turkey and maple are really quite good- even without the neon coloring.
So, here are some handy ideas for easy gelatin desserts that have been inspired by 1928 cooks and 1970s kitchens. Have fun!
1 ( 3.4 package) Jello gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup heavy cream
Stir the instant gelatin in the boiling water until completely dissolved. Cool in fridge until syrupy. Add the heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Serve immediately or chill in fridge. As mixture chills, it will become more firm.
It tastes much better than it looks – really it does!
Mix equal parts Whipped Blue with Creamy Delight, while still soft.
Chill and serve … perhaps with gummy fish?
1 tablespoon brightly colored gelatin powder
1 1/3 cups coconut
1 clean jar
Combine powder and coconut in jar, shake vigorously until coconut is uniformly colored.
1 pkg cake mix, flavors such as yellow or white are best
1 small pkg instant gelatin, any flavor
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350*
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix until smooth, but do not overbeat.
Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar, colored sugar or coconut.
One of my favorite dishes is veggies and rice … or veggies and cheese … or veggies and eggs … or just plain veggies.
For those of you for whom gardening is like breathing; walking outside and picking a clean dishpan full of onions, peppers, okra, corn and tomatoes is the first step in preparing any summertime meal.
Unfortunately, I am not a particularly successful gardener, but I have been spoiled by the bounty of – and learned many lessons from – gardens tended and loved by Aunt Betty, Isabelle and of course, Mona.
As I wash the radishes and slice the onions, I revisit those fragrant gardens of the women who guided me; who shared their quiet strength and immeasurable beauty through their actions; who loved me and taught me and rolled their eyes when I pulled up perfectly good plants, mistaking those oval leaves for mere weeds –again.
If you have a gardener’s soul, know that you are treasured by those of us who cannot grow a vegetable garden so lovely it becomes a wonderland of color and flavor and scent.