Author Archives: julieleclerc

The best Easter buns

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Home-made Easter buns studded with fruits are an extra special way to start the day on Easter Friday, either for breakfast or brunch feasting, or with an afternoon cup of tea.

Makes 12

1 tbsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp caster sugar

1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk

4 cups plain flour, sifted

2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

2 tbsp mixed spice

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries

50g butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

CROSS MIXTURE:

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup cold water

GLAZE:

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 tsp gelatine

1 Place yeast, 1 tablespoon of measured sugar and 1/2 cup measured milk in a bowl and leave for 5 minutes until foamy.

2 Combine flour, cocoa, spices, raisins and dried cranberries and remaining sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add yeast mixture, remaining milk, melted butter and egg to well. Mix together until a sticky dough forms.

3 On a lightly floured surfaced, knead dough for 5 minutes or until dough feels smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (this will take up to 1 hour).

4 Grease a 20 x 30cm lamington tin and line with nonstick baking paper. Divide dough into 12 equal portions; roll into balls and place in tin in neat rows. Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise.

5 Preheat oven to 200°C. Make crosses by blending flour and water together until smooth. Place in a piping bag and pipe crosses onto buns. Bake 25-30 minutes or until browned and springy to touch.

6 Remove to cool. Brush with warm glaze made by boiling all glaze ingredients together until sugar and gelatine dissolve.

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Chef’s tricks: Foaming yeast mixture indicates that the yeast is activated. It is important to leave the dough to rise in a warm place to stimulate the yeast. Cover the bowl of dough with either plastic wrap or a damp, clean tea towel.

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Serve hot (or toast to reheat) with lashings of butter and jam.

Feijoa season is short but sweet…

Cook up a heavenly treat using some of the best fruits of autumn: feijoas. Although these fruits require no work to eat fresh and at their best, when cooked they are transformed into warm, sticky, translucent, sweet creations. Feijoas have a natural affinity with pastry, butter, sugar, cream, coconut, dried fruits, nuts and spices, so lend themselves beautifully to sweet muffins, cakes and comforting puddings. Originally cultivated in South America, the feijoa is now a classic New Zealand fruit that seems to be grown in nearly every second back garden. Here’s my most favourite Feijoa cake recipe for you to try.

LITTLE FEIJOA AND COCONUT CAKES

While the cakes cook the slices of feijoas caramelise giving the fruit a more intense flavour that is further heightened by the tangy lemon syrup. If you like feijoas then you will find these cakes truly scrumptious.

Makes 6

100g butter, softened

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup fine desiccated coconut

3/4 cup plain flour

1 teaspoons baking powder

4 feijoas, peeled and sliced

1 Preheat oven to 160°C fan bake. Grease and lightly dust with flour 6 x 1 cup capacity cake tins.

2 In a bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in coconut, sifted flour and baking powder. Spoon mixture into prepared cake tins. Arrange a few feijoa slices over the surface of each cake.

3 Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool cakes in tins. Once cold, remove cakes from tins and saturate with hot lemon syrup (recipe follows).

LEMON SYRUP:

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Juice of 6 lemons

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 To make the lemon syrup, place all ingredients in a saucepan.

2 Bring to the boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer hard for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.