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Easter treats

Good morning, all. I’m sitting here, sipping my morning coffee (white no sugar) and eating a hot cross bun. Which isn’t hot, but is still delicious. 

They’re called”Hot Cross Buns”from an old rhyme, that goes “Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot Cross Buns.”  They’re very tasty, spiced with cinnamon and other spices and  studded with currants and sultanas.

I bought these ones fresh yesterday, and they’re still delicious. Once they start to get stale, they are equally yummy toasted. In my old house, my neighbors’ kids  once brought me some home-made hot cross buns and they were the best I ever tasted, but alas, I didn’t get the recipe. Still, the ones my local supermarket bakes are very yummy, so I’m not repining.

Easter is usually a social time for me, with friends dropping in to catch up. So if it’s lunch, or a “bring a plate” affair, there are some fun easter-ish dishes I enjoy making. I often make stuffed eggs, and I pinched these pics of Easter variations on that from the web. 

These little chickie boiled eggs are very cute, aren’t they? I’ve also seen much more complicated versions —one with  zig-zag cutting, instead of a straight cut, but whichever way you do it, I think they look great — and not too hard to make..

And I saw these on Facebook, too — see below —and thought they were very elegant. Boiled egg tulips with spring onion stems.

A friend was coming for afternoon tea on Friday, and when I whizzed down to the supermarket of course it was closed — Good Friday here is a public holiday, as is Easter Monday. So I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies, using a recipe from a friend given to me years ago, but for some reason I’d never tried it. It uses sweetened condensed milk, and I had a tin in the cupboard so its time had come. I have to say, the cookies were delicious. I’ll definitely make them again. But by the time I remembered to take a photo, they were all gone. An almost identical recipe is here. I found it by googling “Chocolate Chip cookies condensed milk” which saved my typing it up.  My recipe also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

I didn’t roll it into balls as that recipe says to — my mixture was too sticky for that — I just put blobs of the mixture on the parchment paper and they were fine. Also I baked them around 15 minutes+ at C 160 degrees fan forced, checking to see if they were a pale golden color. If you’re American you’ll have to work out the measurements. Most Aussies have scales to weigh ingredients.  1 stick of butter = 110grams,  and for choc chips I cup choc chips = 200 grams.  You do the math. <g> But if you use more choc chips, nobody will complain. I had large dark choc melts (different from choc chips? so I chopped them up a bit and they were yum.
And if you don’t want to convert everything, try this American version. But I make no promises for the final result. I haven’t tried it.’

I enjoy baking, but I generally only do it when I have someone coming, and then I give them some to take home. I gave my friend some to take home to her husband and son, and packaged up some more to give to my neighbor. That way I’m not tempted to eat cookies for the rest of the week.

There are lots of biscuit (cookie) recipes with easter-theme decorations. Last year I made some iced bunny bikkies for some little friends, but I’m not wonderful at decorating food.  They tasted good, though, which is the main thing.  I did love these, which were made for the children of the UK royal family by the royal kitchens.    So pretty. But my lack of food decorating skills aside,  I am very tempted to try making these gorgeous bunny bikkies, which you could do with almost any cookie recipe. I’ve also seen some pics where people have softened  cookies in the oven and let them sink into a muffin tray, so that they form a nest shape, and when they’ve cooled and hardened, they fill them with mini chocolate eggs or peanut  M&Ms.

Orthodox Easter usually comes later than the general Christian Easter, but this year a Ukrainian friend told me, “This was the first Easter we celebrated with everyone as our church moved the calendar entirely to align with Rome and away from Moscow.” 

I have quite a few friends from various orthodox Christian backgrounds, and I’m used to being given red eggs from some friends and the occasional elegantly decorated ones from others, and I’ve dyed eggs with onion skins and other things. But when I came across this chart — see below— I was very tempted to try some of these lovely variations of color, using quite everyday ingredients. I haven’t yet — I’m busy writing at the moment, but here it is for you, in case you’d like to try some.

Do you make or bake special treats for Easter? What sort of things to you do?

 

 

Hot Cross Buns

Weirdly, the moment Christmas is over, the supermarkets here bring out hot cross buns to sell. Me, I love it — I could happily eat them all year around. 

But on social media it causes some people to practically foam at the mouth with indignation, because eating hot cross buns is an Easter tradition. When I was a kid, we ate them for breakfast on Good Friday (and through the rest of Easter if we were lucky). But as I said, these days I’d happily eat them all year round.

They’re not like other fruit buns. The cross on the top isn’t the source of the appeal — it’s usually  just made with flour and water. It’s the combination of fruit and spices in the bun. The spices are usually cinnamon and allspice, but they can also vary. After Easter I can still get fruit buns, but they aren’t nearly as yummy.

But in recent years the supermarkets have gone a bit crazy, varying the buns, so we can get “fruitless buns” (a travesty in my opinion), chocolate buns, brioche buns, caramel buns, and more, none of which I will touch.  

They don’t have to be served hot, but whether you eat them cold with butter, or heated, or toasted they are always called hot cross buns. In a US novel once, I saw them called “cross buns” because they weren’t being served hot — that’s wrong. Even if they come frozen from the fridge, we’d still call them hot cross buns. I generally don’t bake them myself, but my former neighbors once brought me in some they’d made and they were delicious, the best I’ve ever tasted.  The photo above is from the recipetineeats site, which also has a recipe and video.

Baking gifts

Last night I attended the first of this years “Christmas” gatherings. It was an “end of year” dinner for a small group of friends. There are quite a few coming up in the next weeks and some of them have Kris Kringle arrangements, where you have to bring a wrapped $10 present, and it’s a lucky dip as to who gets what.  

This year my plan is to bake for the KKs. There’s not a lot you can get for $10 —often it’s just “stuff” you don’t really need or want, and in the past I’ve wasted a lot of time wandering through shops unable to find anything I like.  

My godmother (who came to us every year for Christmas and Easter) always used to bring a tin containing her home-made biscuits. They were yummy and we always looked forward to eating them. So this year I’m following her example and buying pretty tins or boxes and filling them with home-baked cookies (or biscuits as we call them here.) 

Yesterday my KK was a tin of acetani biscuits, which I blogged about a few weeks ago. I’m also planning to make either Melting Moments  (pictured above) or Yo-Yo biscuits. They’re small, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits sandwiched together with some kind of icing mix — my favorites are lemon and passionfruit. Yo-Yos and Melting Moments are very similar — the main difference is that the Yo-Yo ingredients  include custard powder. The photo above is from this site, which has the recipe.

I also made my first batch of Christmas Crack, which I make every year, and I took several small bags along to last night’s dinner — one for each person. Basically it’s a buttery toffee, baked over a layer of salted crackers, then topped with a layer of chocolate, and finally sprinkled with toasted flaked or slivered almonds. 

It’s delicious and quite easy to make and these days a lot of my friends expect it. There is no reason why it needs to be a Christmas recipe, but it’s now become one  of my annual traditions. 

There are recipes all over the web, but you can find mine here, along with a few other recipes for food I give at Christmas.

I also have a yen to make Garibaldi biscuits, which I’ve never made before.  They’re popular in the UK, Australia and NZ. They’re flat, with a thin layer of sweet pastry, a layer of currants and another layer of pastry. When I was a kid, we used to call them “squashed fly biscuits” but despite the name, they’re yummy. The photo on the right is from this site, which also gives the recipe.

I’m very fond of currants and I also have a yen to make Eccles cakes, which I’ve eaten but never baked myself. I’ll probably try this recipe, which looks quite straightforward. There are more on the web, including this one that looked great, but it recommends that you render lard, and make your own candied peel. I might make the candied peel, but don’t think I’d bother rendering lard. But who knows? If I make that recipe (sans lard) I’ll let you know, because it does look excellent.

I really enjoy baking, but I hardly ever do it, because if I bake, I know I’ll end up eating more biscuits than I usually allow myself (which is generally none), so it’s lovely to have an opportunity to bake things, try one or two, and give the rest away.

What about you — do you bake things or make gifts for the festive season? And which of the above biscuits would you prefer to receive?