Today was a bit sad and stressful, and at 7pm we realized we had no dinner and no time to make the chicken, white bean and pesto stew I thawed a package of chicken thighs for. No matter. We tore open the tub of organic spring greens ($5 for a giant plastic tub at the Superstore – and like foam stuffing, it seems to expand as you pull it out) and started tossing things in: the last of the deli ham, grape tomatoes, a few shriveling mushrooms, toasted pecans, and the last third of a jar of spiced pickled beets I bought at the market.
The best part was, I used the sweet, spiced brine as a base for a salad dressing, with balsamic vinegar, a squirt of grainy mustard, some canola oil and a drizzle of flax oil (1 tsp. has more omega 3s than a 3 oz. filet of salmon!) – shaking it all up in one of my IKEA oil & vinegar bottles.
After dinner I made hot crossed buns for CBC tomorrow morning – this time I revamped them a bit from the traditional version using those candied fruit bits by adding orange (in the form of grated zest and candied peel) and chocolate chunks. When they come out of the oven, I’ll cross them with chocolate – place a small handful of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a ziplock baggie, seal and put in a bowl of warm water until it melts. Snip a small piece off the corner and squeeze the chocolate out onto the buns.
Hot Crossed Buns
1 pkg. (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, milk or a combination of both
4- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, melted
1 large egg
1 cup golden raisins, currants or a combination
1/3 cup mixed peel (extremely optional)
Paste for crosses:
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
Place the yeast, a bit of the sugar and the milk in a bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes to make sure the yeast is active.Sift the flour with the spices and salt, and add almost all of it to the yeast mixture along with the butter, remaining sugar, egg and dried fruit. Mix until you have a sticky dough.
Take the dough out and place it on a floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as you need to if it gets sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Knead for another minute for good measure and an upper-body workout.
Place back in the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for an hour, or until it’s doubled in size. If you want to bake them fresh in the morning, put the bowl in the fridge overnight to slow the rising.
Divide the dough into 12 balls and place in a 9”x13” baking dish or on a cookie sheet – space them close together if you want them to rise and touch and be soft, pull-apart buns, or space them further away if you want them to have a baked crust all the way around. Cover with a towel or loosely with plastic wrap and put them in a warm place for another half hour to an hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix the flour and water for the crosses, put the mixture in a zip-lock bag and snip a tiny piece off the corner. Pipe a cross onto the top of each bun and bake them for 25-30 minutes, until golden and well risen. If you want to glaze them, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves (alternatively you can do this in the microwave). Brush this hot syrup generously over the tops of the buns while they’re still warm.
To make the Orange Chocolate Chunk version: ease up on the cinnamon a bit and omit the allspice; add the grated zest of an orange along with the melted butter and egg; add 1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel and 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks to the dough instead of the raisins and citron. Omit the paste for the crosses and instead bake them, cool them and cross them with chocolate – place a small handful of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a ziplock baggie, seal and put in a bowl of warm water until it melts. Snip a small piece off the corner and squeeze the chocolate out onto the buns.
March 17 2008 09:27 pm | bread