Happy Easter, I hope you're celebrating with your friends and family somewhere toasty warm. After a very hard March for my family, we're spending Easter together by the seaside in sunny Thanet (please refrain from comments about Farage unless they're Easter related jokes). Which is looking a bit more misty and foggy today but high ho! After a lot of stress recently, spending Easter as a family couldn't be more welcome and to kick things off in style I whipped up a batch of Blood Orange and Stem Ginger Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday.
There's a lot of strange superstitions surrounding the Hot Cross Bun, protecting against fires if they're hung in a kitchen is one, stopping shipwrecks is another. Not a particularly superstitious person myself, excluding not walking under ladders because that's just dangerous, I have decided to get on board the superstition that sharing Hot Cross Buns with someone will ensure your friendship lasts all year. It's a pretty nice superstition, no black cats, shipwrecks or fires in sight.
These Hot Cross Buns are simply delicious. Orange and ginger is a fail proof combination, and with extra raisins, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg it is my classic bun recipe going forwards. For added fun these also have homemade chopped candied blood oranges in which make it even fruitier. Make the candied orange slices in the morning or the day before you're going to make the buns to allow them time to set. Remember to save the syrup from the candied oranges as you'll need that to glaze the buns. If you can't get blood oranges, substitute them with any other citrus fruit you want, be that normal oranges, lemons, grapefruits or even the fragrant pomelo. Give it a go and let me know the results!
I'm also super impressed with some advice I read online about proving in the oven. I love our flat, with its large bay windows and open space, but it does mean that it's not particularly warm. So when my first batch of buns, proved next to our very efficient boiler which lets out no heat into the cupboard whatsoever, did not rise I found this proving recipe which works an absolute treat! In fact it might have worked a bit too well as the buns rose over the baking tray! But we'll call that a not so hidden bonus.
I also decided to make some easy, fool proof Blood Orange Marmalade. Not for me, I'm not the biggest marmalade fan, give the blood oranges to me raw and juicy and I'll take them down. Where as the rest of my family are fanatics and loved this one, some of them a bit too much. We call my mum's boyfriend the Marmalade Madman. Ok we don't, but I'll start trying it out. It will be my Easter Resolution, that and hanging buns in my kitchen.
Blood Orange & Stem Ginger Hot Cross Buns
(makes 12 buns or 1 massive one!)
450g white strong bread flour
1 large egg
50g butter, melted
200g caster sugar
2 tsps (7g) yeast
100ml blood orange juice
2 blood oranges, zested
1 large or 2 small blood oranges, to be candied
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
150g mixed fruit (raisins, orange peel etc.)
3 stem ginger balls, grated
100g plain flour
Step 1. To make the candied blood orange slices dissolve 150g of the sugar with 50ml water and let it reduce to a thin syrup. Cut the two blood oranges into half cm slices and add them to the pan making sure they're submerged then leave these to simmer for 1 hour. Once done, transfer to some baking paper to cool and stiffen. Save the remaining syrup to use as a glaze for the Hot Cross Buns.
Step 2. Sift the bread flour, spices and salt into a large bowl, and add the orange zest, mixed fruit, grated ginger and candied oranges that have been cut into tiny pieces (use scissors!). In a pan warm the milk. Once lukewarm, remove from the heat, and add the remaining 50g sugar and yeast and stir till it dissolves then leave for 15 minutes.
Step 3. Melt the butter and pour into the dry ingredients, a long with the beaten egg and orange juice. Then add the yeasted milk and stir to combine. Its a very sticky wet dough, but persevere with kneading the dough for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface and it'll be smooth and springy.
Step 4. Once kneaded, place the dough into a greased bowl or dish and leave to rise in a warm place. If like me, you don't have a warm place make sure you put the dough in a greased oven-proof dish. The key to proving in the oven is to put a large roasting tin filled with boiling water from the kettle on the bottom shelf of the oven, then put the dough on the top shelf. Once that's done, on your normal oven setting (not fan that will dry the dough out) turn the oven on to 200°C for exactly 1 minute then turn it off. Bear in mind you're not waiting for the oven to come up to 200°C. Leave the dough to prove till doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Step 5. Once the dough has doubled in size, take it out, and divide and shape it into 12 buns. These might look a bit small but these will double in size once they've proven for a second time. Place on a tray lined with baking paper 2 cm apart. Follow the proving steps as above if doing it in the oven but leave them for 30 minutes instead of 1 hour.
Step 6. Once proven, remove the buns from the oven, preheat it to 180°C (boiling water removed) and make the crosses. To make the cross mix 100g plain flour with 3 tbsps of water or until the mix is stiff enough to pipe. Pipe the lines across the buns to get the crosses, it looks neater if you pipe all the way across all of the buns rather than doing each one separately. Brush the buns with a little milk, then bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Step 7. Once the buns are done, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. While still warm brush the buns with the syrup from the candied oranges mixing it with a little boiling water to loosen (about 1 tsp). Then leave the buns to cool. If you didn't make the candied oranges, you could just make your own syrup without the oranges or add orange extract, OR you could use some of the syrup from the stem ginger balls.
Easy Blood Orange Marmalade
(makes 2 50ml jars)
3 blood oranges
2 stem ginger balls, grated
2 tbsp ginger syrup
Step 1. Cut the oranges into quarters, removing all of the pips you can see. Grind the oranges in a food processor to a course mix.
Step 2. Add all of the ingredients in a pan and heat on a medium to high heat, stirring constantly. Really its ready whenever you want it to be, I cooked mine for about 20 minutes because I wanted a really thick marmalade. Be aware as it cools it'll thicken anyway so you want it a little looser when cooking.
Step 3. Pour the marmalade into sterilised jars. I use a kettle as discussed when making Easy Blueberry and Ginger Jam here, which was to go with my Ginger and Goats Cheese Cake as part of my Vegetarian Valentines Day Feast. All my recipes have ginger in, maybe I should change my blog name to Flick and Ginger.
I hope you enjoy these buns let me know what Easter treats you've been cooking up, if there are any superstitions you think I need to believe in and if you think of any other ginger related blog names!