24 April 2011

take a peep at this

Holiday time is here again... Happy Easter!  I was tempted to fix up another feast, Greek or Southern Easter fare, but since I'm still trying to come up with recipes to use up all the Passover matzo I bought, I figured that my house would be better off without a second week of festive leftovers.  That doesn't mean we won't be celebrating at the Sweet Spot.  The Easter Bunny came early for us when the mail carrier dropped off this amazing, treat filled "basket" from Grandma Joan -

I squealed with delight when I opened it.  It was almost as exciting as a visit from the Peep Mobile!  Seriously, when I was younger I once saw the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and the excitement I had at that moment could only be topped by a Peep Mobile sighting.  Even though they now make Peeps for just about every holiday, the original little yellow marshmallows they make every Spring are one of my yearly highlights.  Them, and Cadbury Cream Eggs.  And the Mini Eggs.  Oh the candy consumption is almost too much!

But I'm an adult now and Easter candy for breakfast is not part of my well-balanced diet.  However, hot cross buns are.  Especially when they're loaded with currants, cranberries, orange peel, lemon zest and yellow raisins!  Mmmm mmm.  Spiral ham isn't the only thing that says Easter goodness.  This was my first time making hot cross buns so I might tweak the recipe a bit if I decide to add them to my annual menu.  These were a little more dense and spicier (I mean full of more spices, not hot and spicy) than the ones I've bought at the bakery, but they were pretty darn delicious.  So, based on the version from Joy of Baking, here's a preliminary version of my recipe:

hot cross buns
3/4 c milk
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 tsp fresh cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp  fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temp
2 large eggs
1/4 c dried currants
1/4 c yellow raisins
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/2 tsp mixed, fresh lemon & orange zest
egg wash
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
1 c confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp milk
1. In a small saucepan, heat milk until it's lukewarm.  Add the yeast and white sugar, stirring to combine.  When well mixed, remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes, until foamy and active.  
2.  In the meantime, mix flour, spices and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  When the yeast and milk is ready, mix in and beat to combine with dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well.  Lastly, add the butter and mix until well combined.  
3. With the dough attachment (or your hands if you don't own the awesomeness of a mixer) knead the dough until it's elastic-y and smooth.  This will take at least 5 min.  Transfer the dough to a floured surface.  Kneed the dried fruits and zest into the dough with your hands.  Place dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel letting it rise in a warm, dry place until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. When dough is ready, punch it down and split up into 12 equal pieces and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush each bun with the egg wash (egg & milk whisked together.)  Cover again with a clean towel and let rise again for about 30-45 min until it's again doubled in size.  
5. While dough is rising a second time, preheat over to 400 degrees.  With a sharp greased knife, cut a cross onto the top of each bun.  Brush the buns once more with the egg wash and bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
6.  Mix confectioner's sugar and milk until it becomes a thick glaze then place in a plastic back with a cut tip.  Squeeze the icing into the cut cross and serve.  The inside should still be warm and toasty, delish!

not too shabby for a first try

Oh, I love Easter.  I only wish I had an old-school answering machine that I could load up with the cassette of me and my kid sister singing "Here Comes Peter Cottontail."  But a note to all mothers out there: recordings of your kids singing Easter songs should only be used as an outgoing message during the appropriate season.  If you don't pay attention, the message could end up causing very embarrassing phone message moments when your children are grown and their friends call (remember that, Tricia?)

With that, I wish everyone a happy Easter with friends, family, tasty treats, and a crapload of plastic eggs filled with candy!

my post-easter, morning commute


  1. I love reading your blog! It makes me smile and wish I was home cooking up your delicious meals. Forget Rachael Ray!

  2. Thankfully Mommy found the recording AFTER Easter this year, or she may just have been tempted to use it again!