Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Food blogs!

I love looking at food blogs. Several times a day I'll stop by Tastespotting and foodgawker to browse through their tasty looking offerings. For me the draw is seeing what other people are doing in their kitchens, how they shop, add variety, keep it healthy, indulge, etc. It's also about the art, expression through the food and the photography. I call it 'food porn', but it's really more like 'food art'. I bookmark everything that looks especially delicious or easy to make. This practice has gotten me a bookmark folder with literally hundreds of unorganized recipes waiting to be tried. Very slowly I'm starting to try the recipes in my overflowing folder. There have been hits and misses. From now on, both will be shown here.

First: a hit!

I've always been a terrible baker. I've had success cooking, but baking was always a nightmare for me. I could even screw up brownies out of the box. After failure after failure, I had come to terms that baking was just not my thing. Then I made a new friend, Rachel. She gave up a high paying job to go pastry school and pursue her delicious pastry dreams! Her passion for pastry inspired me to give baking another go and I'm so glad I did. My first at bat I hit it out of the park with these beautiful Hot Crossed Buns.

I've heard these are traditionally prepared for Good Friday, but I made these Easter Morning. They were a tradition in John's family growing up and now they can be a tradition for us going forward.

Hot Crossed Buns
adapted from Open Mouth Insert Cookie

2 1/4 t instant yeast
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
3 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c buttermilk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t all-spice
1/4 c butter, room temperature, in tablespoons
1 c dried currents
2 t orange zest

3 T all purpose flour
1 t sugar
2 T water

1/4 c water
2 T honey
2 T sugar

1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 T cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 t vanilla
2-3 T milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dough, except for the currants. Then, with your hands, mix the dough just until it forms a rough ball. Turn it out and knead it on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Next, knead in the currants, taking care to distribute it evenly. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, deflate gently, and form into 16 round buns. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment, about an inch apart. Snip a cross into the top of each bun with scissors. Cover, and let the buns rise again, until they are 1.5 times larger (about an hour). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the cross ingredients and stir until smooth. Place in a plastic baggy, and cut a tiny bit of the corner off. Pipe crosses (following the snip marks in your buns) on each bun. Bake until golden brown and firm (about 30 minutes).

To make the glaze I boiled the water and poured it piping hot into a bowl with the sugar and honey. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush each with the glaze.

To make the icing, simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Make sure the cream cheese is nice and soft and begin by adding only 2 T of milk. If the icing is too thick, add a third tablespoon. Let the buns cool a little then, using the same plastic baggy piping technique, pipe on the icing.

Enjoy while still warm!

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