Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Monday = ANZAC day

So this year two days worthy of baked goods rolled about at once. I didn't even realise that ANZAC day was falling on easter until the day before so the plan to make hot cross buns (for the first time) became the plan to make hot cross buns and ANZAC biscuits. Luckily there were supermarkets open, despite Galway usually being so backwards about that sort of thing. Hot cross buns turn out to be simple enough, now that I know it is not so hard to make bread. However you do still need to have your mind on the job. While there was no kitchen disaster on Easter monday it was nearly close.

It began fine, I mixed together the yeast with the milk and sugar, I added the flour and stirred, I let it rest a bit. Then the next step - you are supposed to add all the rest of the dry ingredients, mix it well and knead it. The kneading being pretty vital. And of course that is the bit that I very nearly forgot. I mixed it all together and I don't know where my head was at because the next thing you know I covered the bowl and went off to do other things while it rose. So a half hour or so later I go to check on it and I wonder to myself why it hasn't risen at all? It doesn't even occur to me immediately, it took a fair while of staring at the bowl before I realised that I had not kneaded it. And I though 'oh shit!' and quickly took it out of the bowl and gave it a good knead and put it back, all the time wondering if it was too late, maybe you can't leave it unkneaded like that. Fortunately, an hour later and the dough was definately double in size so it was time to punch it down, shape the buns and put crosses on them. When they were finally in the oven it was time to make ANZAC biscuits.

Now for those of you that don't know ANZAC is Australia New Zealand Army Corps and during the war the people left at home baked biscuits to send the troops that would last the distance. Now we have a day to remember the slaughter of our troops at Gallipoli and Flanders and basically everywhere else that they were sent, and while ANZAC biscuits are good all year round we make the most of them at this time of year. They are probably the best biscuits ever, you can't go wrong with oats and coconut and golden syrup. Except this batch did not turn out so good as the last batch, I think they needed more liquid, even more golden syrup. Still, they were good, so here are both recipes:

Hot Cross Buns

375 mL warm milk
20 grams fresh yeast
1/4 cup (60 grams) soft brown sugar
60 grams melted butter
1 egg
4 cups (600g flour) (plain or strong bread flour are both OK)
2 cups sultanas or mixed dried fruit
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons water + 1/4 cup flour
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon brown sugar + 1/4 cup milk - whisk together for glaze

First combine the warm (not hot!) milk with the yeast and sugar. Melt the butter and let it cool, then add that to the milk mixture. Whisk the egg and add that too.

Stir in the flour a half cup at a time until you have added about 3 and half cups. Mix it well and cover the bowl. Let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Now mix the salt and spices in with the rest of the flour and then mix that into the dough as best you can. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth, soft and springy and sort of sticky, but not so sticky that it comes off on your fingers.

Take your mixing bowl and give it a good coating of flour. Place youre ball of dough in it, cover it with clingform and wait for it to rise to roughly double in size.

When you are happy with the amount that your dough has risen take it from the bowl and knead very lightly to remove the air from the dough. Divide into about 12 or so even pieces and roll each into a ball. Grease a baking tray and place the buns side by side.

Mix together the extra flour and water to make a paste, place in a piping bag or icing syringe and make crosses on top of the buns. Brush glaze over the top and leave the buns to rise for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. When the buns have risen about 2 cm brush another layer of glaze over and place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

ANZAC biscuits

1 cup (250 g) flour
1 cup (250 g) sugar
2 cups (250 g) coconut
2 cups (250 g) rolled oats
200 grams butter
½ cup golden syrup
¼ cup hot water
½ teaspoon baking soda

These biscuits are really easy to make.

First, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then in a saucepan melt the butter and golden syrup.

Remove from the heat and add the water and baking soda. Then pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Roll the mixture into balls and flatten them onto a  greased baking tray.

Bake at 180 ° C for about 15 minutes, until they are golden and crispy.

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