I’ve moved over. see you there!
All i knew about hot cross buns was that they would appear when Easter is nearing. But i’ve always been curious about them, so i finally took the liberty of looking up the history of these spiced buns.
The part that interest me most was the superstitions or virtues of these buns. From warding off evil by hanging them on kitchen ceilings to medicinal purposes. And my favorite, that friendship would be ensured when these buns are shared. With a saying that goes: “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be“
The cross was originally said to be scored on with a knife. Which then proceeded to using short-crust pastry. It was only later that a paste of flour and water or icing was used. I would prefer the icing as it adds a little sweetness to them.
Hot cross buns
200g bread flour
23g melted butter
17g milk powder
20g citrus peel
*note: you’re free to add any other spices or dried fruits as you wish.
65g icing sugar
pinch of cinnmon (or other spices)
This was my first time making these buns and i really enjoyed it. I love it when the air was filled with the smell of spices during baking. So comforting. It was also a great joy sharing these with my friends, maybe they do have magical properties afterall;) Catholic Cuisine has a very neat post on the history of these buns if you’re interested.
Oops. So i over baked these little babies. But i swear, Claire Clark’s chocolate fondant is one of the easiest and quickest recipe ever. It only took me a total of 20 minutes(baking included) to make these. No freezing/refrigeration what so ever required. Just mix, fill into moulds and pop them into the oven. And you’ll get your chocolate craving fixed.
Warm Chocolate Fondant (taken from Claire Clark’s book Indulge)
200g unsalted butter
200g good quality dark chocolate (I used a 64%), finely chopped
200g icing sugar, sifted
4 medium eggs
4 medium yolks
55g plain flour
35g cocoa powder
The baking time depends on the size of your ramekins. So make sure you don’t leave them unattended(just like i did), watch these babies really closely! Because i wanted to make bite-size fondants, i filled them in mini muffin moulds instead. I also quartered the recipe which was just nice for 12 mini portions. And even though they were a little over baked, they’re still delicious as chocolate tea cakes! I would definitely make these again, making sure i watch them really closely:p
Last thursday i went for a La Rose Noire demo at Swissotel. Those who are in the food and beverage industry should be familiar with them. They’re known for their handmade(they are individually moulded and coated by hand) tart shells. What really caught my attention was their range of petit fours and macaroons.
Basically, these pastries are all filled and looks good enough to be served straight out of their packaging, that convenient. And this led me to think…with these products, where would the skills of a pastry chef come in? Yes, maybe you would still require a bit of those skills to spruce up those pastries. But the actual craft of making a pastry from scratch would be taken away by all these clever ‘convenient’ produce(unless if you work for them). There are even instant mousse mix now! With all the smart marketing tactics, it wouldn’t be difficult to fall into the convenience trap.
Don’t get me wrong, i’m all for moving with times and embracing change. But what if these changes would in the end lead to an extinction of traditions? What can a pastry trainee learn from making a mousse out of a packet of instant mousse mix or arranging tart shells? I understand that these products do have their advantages, especially in big organizations like hotels. But shouldn’t there be a line drawn? Especially for the preservation of traditional techniques or simply just the therapeutic comfort of making a tart/mousse from scratch. Isn’t that what food is all about?
Please note: These are just my personal opinions/rants and do not mean any disrespect in any ways to anyone. I am also not getting paid by anyone for these words.
Our version of ‘carrot cake’ (chai tow kway) here is nothing like the looks/taste of the english carrot cake. First of all, there is no carrot in it. It is made of radish and rice flour. And then there are two versions, the white or the black (my personal fave, you can read more about it on wiki .)
So imagine my confusion (i was a kid then) when i first encountered the english carrot cake. It was an actual cake! I was so fascinated by it! Because it tasted sweet and it was so good! I wanted to find out more about this carrot cake. I read stories about how the best carrot cakes were always made by grannies or moms, and wondered what would the ‘best’ carrot cake be like. After years of searching and eating, i would say that i like my carrot cake to be really moist with more carrot taste than spices(its not easy to find one.). With just the right amount of frosting that has a slight lemony flavor and isn’t too sweet.
I used pastry chef Claire Clark’s version of carrot cake here and as for the dehydrated carrot toppers:
First, use a mandoline slicer to slice it as thin as possible. If it’s too thick, it’ll take a longer time to dry.
Then blanch them for about a minute (til they turn a bright orange) and immediately soak them in a bowl or ice water.
After which blot them dry(very) with paper towels.
Toss them in a little vegetable oil, sprinkle some salt and arrange them(don’t stack them) on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake them at 190°C for about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices. Make sure to watch them closely as they burn really easy.
So how do you like your carrot cake? and do you have any stories of your grandma/mom/whoever’s carrot cake to share? i’d love to hear about it!