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Elizabeth David's Spiced Buns

Elizabeth David's Spiced Buns

Spiced buns

These buns are a bit of a classic in my family. My Dad is an excellent baker and every year around Easter I would always ask him to make hot cross buns. Once I had successfully convinced him to do so, he would pull out the old Elizabeth David paperback and get to work. Patience was definitely required, as the bread needed to prove twice and the finished rolls always needed to cool before he could put an icing cross across the top. During this process I would quite simply lose my mind, as the sweet and spicing scent of cinnamon would waft through the house. 

It wasn't until I started making these buns that I realised it was simply a spiced bun recipe, that could optionally be turned into hot cross buns. I was outraged - Dad had been holding back on me! I could have been eating these beauties more than once a year. This was likely the start of my adventures into atheism and my love affair with cinnamon. 

Recipe for 24 buns

  • 500g baking flour
  • 125g currants
  • 30g (1 sachet) of yeast
  • 280g of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 280g light brown sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 2 tsp of mixed sweet spices (mix of all spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar

Warm the milk to room temperature and use a few tablespoons to cream the yeast. Add the flour, salt, sugar and spices to a big mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the creamed yeast, add the softened butter and the whole eggs. Gradually add in the rest of the milk, keeping an eye on the consistency. The dough should be soft and sticky, but in no way liquid. Once everything has combined add the currents and knead for 5-7 minutes.

Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. I used our baby's changing room, as it is slightly warmer than the other rooms. Once the dough has doubled in size, bring it back to the kitchen and take out your aggression in bringing it back down to size. Divide the dough into small balls and kneed to shape. They should be plump and sticky. Resist the temptation to add lots of flour when kneading so they don't stick. This results in dry buns.

Place the buns on baking paper and allow to prove again until they have doubled in size. The should feel soft and light to the touch. Bake the buns at 190-200 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending a lot on your oven and the size of the buns. Before the buns are ready to come out of the over (not a euphemism) boil the milk and sugar glaze until it is bubbly and syrupy. Brush the buns with the glaze while they are still hot. Provided that the dough was well matured, the crusts will be fine and soft and the glaze shouldn't be tacky or overly sticky.

[Big thank you to my mum for hunting down the cookbook and sending me the scans]

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