Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs

Hot Cross Buns

Last Easter I was busy packing all of our belongings into cardboard boxes as we prepared to make the life changing move out of London.  Our new destination was Kent, where I grew up and where my Mum and brother still live.  We had only been in one week when we packed more bags and set off up to Cheshire to see my in-laws for the Easter weekend.  Something we do most years.  At the time it seemed crazy after just moving house, but once we got there it was lovely to relax, have meals made for us and not unpack any boxes.  The weather was fantastic and on Easter day we were spoilt with an Easter egg hunt and plenty of chocolate.

This year without having to plan for a house move, I have been able to try making one of my most favourite things ever…hot cross buns.  I actually love and hot cross buns and would be thrilled to eat them all year round.  The way I like them is toasted, spread with unsalted butter and a cup of tea to wash it all down.

I have to say though that I’m not great at making bread items.  I truly believe that it is something that takes a lot of practice, so I continue trying in the hope that my next effort will be better than my last.  It’s a good job I think like this as my first attempt at hot cross buns were only just passable,  but my second attempt was pretty near to perfect in my eyes, (picture below).  I would have liked to know what Paul Hollywood thought of them!  I digress.  The most delightful thing about homemade hot cross buns are how much better they taste in comparison to shop brought which makes them totally worth the effort, even if they do take a few attempts to get right.

The basic hot cross bun recipe I followed can be found on the Baking Mad’s website.  A few things I have done differently that might be worth trying as well include:

  • Substituting 50g of plain flour for wholemeal flour
  • Adding chopped dates and dark chocolate chips instead of raisins
  • Using a 100g strong white flour, 25g butter, 125ml water and a pinch of sugar to make a paste.  Then put this in a small freezer bag, snip the end and pipe crosses

The Baking Mad website also have a number of other Easter recipes that are worth having a look at, they include simnel cake, cake pops, Easter cake and Easter cupcakes.

Easter Eggs

Another wonderful thing about Easter is of course Easter Eggs.  I love to look around the shops each year to see what temptations have been created.  I’m always drawn to eggs that are a bit unique or have something special about them.

Hotel Chocolat, who are fast becoming a firm favorite of mine have a marvelous Easter egg selection and I was lucky enough to be allowed one to review (or scoff which ever way you like to put it).  I picked the ‘You Crack Me Up‘ egg with extra thick shell because I loved the look of the chocolates that came inside.

Little happy faces, chicks, fried eggs and soliders all appeal to child in me and I thought it was likely that my own children would be wanting some of this egg too!

I was not disappointed.  All (and that is saying something) the chocolates were lovely.  If anything there could have been more!  The shell was indeed extra thick and gave the egg a real feel of quality.  I loved the packaging too.  It came in a gorgeous box and the egg itself was wrapped in the most lavish looking light gold foil.

I have had this egg for 3 days now and it’s nearly all gone already.  Easter egg reviewing…it’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it 😉

Many thanks to Hotel Chocolate sending me the Easter Egg to review and Baking Mad for sponsoring this post.

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28/03/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Easter Baking, Reviews, Sweet Baking, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Review – ‘Baked By Me’ Easter Cookie in a Jar

Most Saturday’s I’m left on my own with the children for the afternoon whilst hubby goes off to play rugby. Yes, it is quite annoying especially when I have been looking after the kids all week, but I know he really needs to do it. He works hard with long hours and a fair bit of stress so an afternoon of rugby is the perfect tonic for him. He comes back in such a good mood, even if he is injured or they lost the game which, even though I hate to say it, does make being a rugby widow worth it. Now, I know what you are all thinking…what a wonderful wife I am! And I have to agree with you all there 😉

I digress, back to Saturday afternoons! I don’t normally take the kids out because I think after a hectic week, it’s good to have a bit of time at home, plus with three of them to organise, a whole stack of energy is required to get out the door. So I look for something we can do at home and quite often we will get our aprons on and prepare to create a baking masterpiece…well that’s what my girls like to think anyway. This week we had the baking activity already planned because thanks to my new twitter pal Iris from Baked By Me (@bakedbymeuk) I had a Easter cookie jar on the side waiting to be used.

Baked by Me is a new business set up just a month ago. Iris tells me that she loves baking and wanted to share the joy with everyone and so Baked by Me was born. I greatly admire people who have the energy and courage to turn their dreams into reality, and I am thrilled that we got to try out some cookie mix.

The jar arrived in a cute little box and when I opened it up I was impressed with the look and feel. There were some nice touches too, a little hand written note, a fluffy Easter chick and gorgeous ribbon around the jar.

The first job for my four year old was to dig out all the mini eggs, and I could tell that she really enjoyed doing this. It was like a little treasure hunt digging in the sand for gold.

I thought there would maybe be 10 or so eggs hiding but they just kept on coming until we had a whole bowl full!

Then we needed to mix up some egg and butter, which was the only two ingredients I provided. Next, another good job for my four year old, we had to tip the dry ingredients from the jar into the mixing bowl.

After a couple minutes of mixing, we had the most delightfully smelling chocolate cookie dough. In fact I had to pause the proceedings whilst my girls filled their airways with chocolate.

Then it’s just a case of spooning dollops onto a baking tray and baking for 8-10 mins. Whilst waiting ALL the spoons were licked…the best part I’m sure!

As soon as they come out, the mini eggs go on, another enjoyable part for the girls, and then they are ready to eat. And what a lovely treat they were. Especially nice still warm and gooey from the oven.

It was a super activity and great for me not to have to weigh everything out. If you are looking for an alternative Easter gift this would be a fun option to consider. I might order a job lot and have them on standby for birthday presents. My girls seem to go to a party almost every weekend!

Take a look at the IBaked by Me website to see the whole range. The cost for a cookie mix jar from Baked By Me is between £8.80 and £9.80.

I wish Iris all the best with her new venture.

Disclaimer- I do not work for Baked By Me nor did not get paid to write this review.

04/03/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Easter Baking, Homemade for the kids, Homemade with the kids, Reviews, Sweet Baking. 4 comments.

Yummy Scrummy Valentines Chocolates

Ok, I guess I ought to be up front here and say straight away that I’m a bit of a chocoholic.  There is always chocolate in my cupboard in some form or another and I reckon I will treat myself to some every other day, if not every day.  I try to be good, but some days there is just no getting away from the fact that more is required. I’m a firm believer that chocolate is good  for the soul and it has been a life saver for me on many occasion.

So when the opportunity came up to sample and review some chocolates from Hotel Chocolat’s valentines range, well I just could not say no.  What a fab perk for writing a food blog!  It also means that I have an excuse to tell you a little story about the first time I experienced Hotel Chocolat.

Two weeks before Christmas last year, Dave came to stay at my house.  I did not know Dave, and still don’t.   He works with my husband, but whilst out celebrating Christmas with the rest of the team he’d drunk so much that he had forgotten where he lived.  Still to this day my husband insists that he was being a good samaritan by bringing Dave back to ours rather than leaving him out in the cold.   I did not get much sleep that night, and Dave was quick to make an exit the next morning after the realisation of where he was dawned on him.  But that evening my husband came back with a box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates from an apologetic Dave, for me.  I was very pleased with my gift for the chocolates were fab, but I don’t think Dave will be coming back to stay in a hurry!

At the moment Hotel Chocolat have got a lovely selection of valentines gifts to suit a range of budgets.  What appeals to me is that all Hotel Chocolat products are a bit different and experimental.  Like a sweet shop but for grown ups.  So for example, in the adeptly named, ‘Season of Love Goody Bag‘ that I got to sample there were chocolate caramels, but not any old chocolate caramels, caramels with chilli.  Which I must add were amazing.  There was also caramel buttons (see what I mean about the adult sweet shop) a slab of raspberry riot chocolate which was a sweet, tangy, crunchy and pink extravaganza of chocolate loveliness.  And finally some cute heart shaped vanilla truffles.  It came in a lovely gift bag, which has also been used as a handbag by my two girls as soon as the chocolates had all gone, (added bonus).

So these get a big thumbs up from me, and thanks to Hotel Chocolat for allowing me to indulge in the name of research 😉

Disclaimer- I do not work for Hotel Chocolat nor did not get paid to write this review.

25/01/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Reviews. Leave a comment.