HOT CROSS BUNS

Around the month of April you will start to see these buns in stores and all over the internet. That is because they are traditionally associated with Easter and are specifically eaten on Good Friday. The bun represents different things, such as the cross and the spices, but if you are interested to know more than feel free to research this subject more.

A Hot Cross Bun is basically a dinner roll and to it you add spices, such as cinnamon, all spice and even orange can be added. You can also add ingredients like sultanas, raisins or chocolate chips. The tops of these traditional buns are crossed with a paste and brushed with a delicious glaze. They can be eaten as is or cut in half and spread some butter on each side.

  • INGREDIENTS FOR THE DOUGH:
    • 600g All Purpose Flour
    • 14g Dried Yeast
    • 55g White Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Salt
    • 3 teaspoons Allspice
    • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
    • 375ml Milk
    • 60g Butter
    • 1 Egg
    • 120g Sultanas/Raisins
  • INGREDIENTS FOR THE FLOUR PASTE CROSSES:
    • 75g Flour
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 70ml Water
  • INGREDIENTS FOR THE GLAZE:
    • 40ml White Sugar
    • 40ml Water

HOW TO MAKE HOT CROSS BUNS:

In a small bowl, melt the butter, sugar and milk in the microwave (or on the stove top if you don’t have a microwave) and let cool down.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt, yeast and spices. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Whisk the egg and add to the bowl.

Mix all the ingredients together and add in the sultanas or raisins and combine. The dough will be soft and sticky. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set it in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth. Divide the dough into 15 pieces and roll into balls.

Grease and line a baking dish and place the balls of dough evenly, leaving some place for them to rise. Cover with cling wrap or a tea towel and leave to rise again until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 210°C / 410°F (lower if fan forced).

To make the flour paste, combine the flour, sugar and water in a bowl to form a smooth paste. Add the water gradually until you form a good consistency, you don’t need to add it all if it seems too much. You want the paste to be thick enough to stay on the bun, but not too liquid that it runs off.

Using a piping bag with a small round tip, pipe the crosses onto the buns. If you don’t have a piping bag with tip, you can easily use a zip lock bag and cut a small opening at the bottom point of the bag.

Bake the buns for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. To make the glaze, combine the sugar and water in a pot and heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Transfer the buns to a wire rack and brush the tops with the hot glaze.

NUTELLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Calling all Nutella, Hazelnut Lovers!!! This one’s for you! Easily the yummiest buttercream frosting out there. I am yet to meet a person that does not like the taste of Nutella and if you have a sweet tooth (like me!!), then you will absolutely go crazy for this recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g Unsalted Butter (softened, so remove from the fridge about 1 hour, this will depend on your climate, before using)
  • 150g Nutella
  • 225g Icing/Powdered Sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Milk (Whole milk is best, but any will do)

HOW TO MAKE NUTELLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer for this recipe. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.

Start by measuring out the butter, cut it into cubes and add to your mixing bowl. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the butter has lightened in color and doubles in amount. It will be light and creamy.

Add the nutella and mix again for about 2-3 minutes to combine the butter and nutella.

Add half of the sifted icing/powdered sugar to the bowl and mix really well after each addition. You want the sugar to fully incorporate with the butter so that it isn’t grainy and becomes thick and fluffy.

Then add the milk a tablespoon at a time until you achieve the consistency that you would like.

Using a frosting knife or piping bag with tip attached, you are now ready to use your delicious Nutella Buttercream Frosting.

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

If you like the taste of Peanut Butter in general, then you are going to love this frosting!! I expected peanut butter mixed with butter, mixed with a whole lot of icing sugar to be so overly sweet, but honestly, it isn’t! It’s so delicious that I think this might be one of my all time favorite buttercream frostings.

It’s best to use a smooth peanut butter, not crunchy and add it to the butter to incorporate well. You can use a stand mixer of a hand mixer to make this recipe. You will also need a spatula and your frosting knife or piping bag and tips.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g Butter (unsalted & softened at room temperature)
  • 100g Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 225g Icing/Powdered Sugar (sifted)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Milk

HOW TO MAKE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING:

Start by adding the butter to a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the butter for about 5 minutes or until it is lighter in color and doubled in amount.

Add the peanut butter to the butter and mix well to combine the two.

Add half of the sifted icing sugar and mix for about 3-5 minutes, as you want the sugar to incorporate really well before adding the rest of the sugar. Add the remaining icing sugar and repeat as before.

Finally, add the milk to obtain the required consistency that you would like. More milk will make it looser and less milk will make it stiffer so it depends on you.

Your Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting is now ready to frost your delicious cakes or cupcakes. Thus frosting goes really well with either Vanilla or Chocolate cakes and cupcakes.

VANILLA (AMERICAN) BUTTERCREAM

American Buttercream is made from butter, icing/powdered sugar and any flavors you wish to add. It is a sweet buttercream frosting as there is a lot more sugar than butter and it is a great consistency for frosting or piping onto cakes and cupcakes. This recipe is also so versatile as you can add coloring, flavors, jams or spreads to it to create a range of yummy frostings.

BUTTER – I use a good quality butter for my buttercream and I do not use any shortening or other types of butter or margarine. There are many recipes that substitute butter for shortening or replace half of it, but not for this recipe. The best way to soften your butter is to remove it from the refrigerator an hour before you want to use it. You can soften it in the microwave, but it is not recommended as you can’t control the melting and you can risk it being too soft and you definitely don’t want to use a melted butter in your buttercream. It will just be runny and not have a good consistency to use.

SUGAR – American Buttercream uses a lot of Icing/Powdered Sugar and this is what gives it it’s yummy sweetness. You cannot, unfortunately, use less sugar than what the recipe uses as it will definitely change the taste and consistency. But, if you prefer or want to try a less sweet Buttercream/Frosting, than I recommend trying my Ermine (also known as Cooked Flour) Buttercream Frosting. It is so soft and velvety, but is not as stable as an american buttercream. If you want to pipe with your buttercream, then I would advise using an american buttercream.

LIQUID – I prefer to use milk in my recipes. The best would be whole/full cream milk, but you can also use water or cream. There is no secret or special recipe for this, but it’s about your personal taste and preference. So taste and add more or next time add less or try another ingredient until you’re happy with it. You will add more or less for not only the taste, but for the consistency too. If you want to frost your cake, then you can add about 3 tablespoons, but if you’re piping, then I would only add 1 or maybe 2 tablespoons of milk for a thicker consistency. That’s the joy of baking, it’s so versatile and easy to change or adjust.

VANILLA EXTRACT – If you are making a vanilla buttercream and not adding any other flavors to it, then you can add and taste again like before. Start by adding 1 and if you want a stronger vanilla taste then add 1/2 a teaspoon at a time, mix and taste again.

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g Butter (unsalted & softened)
  • 500g Icing/Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Milk (other options to add are water or cream)

This recipe makes about 2 cups, but it can be halved or doubled depending on how much you need.

HOW TO MAKE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat the butter for about 5 minutes, until it is lighter in color, creamy and seems to have doubled. You can do this with a whisk, but I highly recommend using a hand or stand mixer.

Sift in half of the icing/powdered sugar and mix well before adding in the rest. Mix for about 5 minutes to fully incorporate the butter and sugar. You don’t want a ‘grainy’ texture and you can avoid this by sifting your sugar, adding it in in parts and mixing really well so that it dissolves into the butter.

Then add the milk and vanilla extract and give a final mix for 1 to 2 minutes. The milk will thin out the consistency of the buttercream so add more or less depending on what you want or prefer.

Some other buttercream frostings to try:

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ermine Cooked Flour Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Very similar to vanilla cupcakes, these chocolate cupcakes are super simple to make. Add some cocoa powder and you’re good to go. Just like the vanilla cupcakes, they come out light and fluffy and paired with a delicious frosting, they will not be gobbled up in no time!!

Chocolate Cupcakes with a caramel centre & Nutella Buttercream

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g Self-Raising Flour
  • 25g Cocoa Powder
  • 125 White Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 140g Butter (unsalted & softened at room temperature)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1½ tablespoons Milk (at room temperature)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES:

Preheat your oven to 170°C/340°F and grease a cupcake tin with butter or non-stick spray.

In a large bowl (mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer), mix the butter and sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each egg.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder and mix on low speed or fold into the butter mixture.

Finally add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until all combined. You do not need to mix this for long, just until it is all mixed together.

Evenly divide the batter into your cupcake tin and bake for 22 minutes or until a skewer (toothpick) comes out clean.

Once they are done baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can frost these yummy cupcakes with any flavored buttercream, a ganache or even fill the centres with ganache or caramel. Check out my recipes for buttercream or fillings here!

PEPPERMINT CRISP TART (South African Dessert)

A classic South African dessert that is loved by many, this carmel peppermint chocolate dessert is always a crowd pleaser! There are two options to this dessert, the individual servings or one big tart! I love the individual portions if you’re having guests over. I think it’s always nice when each person can have their own dessert.

Makes 10 – 12 mini desserts OR 1 Large Dessert – Preparation Time: 20 Minutes – Refrigeration Time: Minimum 1 Hour

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g Digestive Biscuits
  • 100g Butter (melted)
  • 250 ml Fresh Cream
  • 1 can/375g of Caramel (this needs to be a thick consistency)
  • Peppermint Crisp Chocolate (any peppermint chocolate substitute you can find)

METHOD:

Grate or chop the chocolate into small chunks and set aside.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor or you can put them in a zip lock bag and crush them with a heavy object, such as a rolling pin. Melt the butter and add it to the crushed biscuits (this step is optional for the individual tarts).

Whip the fresh cream until it is quite stiff and set aside.

Next, put the caramel into a bowl and give it a whisk to loosen it up so that it can mix easier into the cream.

Now fold the cream and caramel together. Add half of your chopped chocolate into the cream caramel mixture and keep the other half aside.

To assemble, you are going to layer the biscuits and cream caramel mixture until you finish all the ingredients. Top with the rest of the chocolate.

To Make a Large Tart follow these steps:

1. For a large tart, layer the biscuits without any butter or for mini desserts, crush the biscuits and mix with melted butter

2. Whip cream and caramel separately (just enough to loosen up the caramel and stiff peaks for cream)

3. Fold caramel into whipped cream (for a large tart, mix 3/4 of chocolate into cream mixture and layer with biscuits)

4. For mini desserts, layer the chocolate after the biscuits and then the cream mixture

5. Sprinkle remaining chocolate on top of tart.

DINNER ROLLS

There is not much more satisfying than making your own homemade soft, fluffy dinner rolls! Lather on some good old butter while they’re still warm and fresh out of the oven. Mmm…it’s the little pleasures in life! So I’m here to share my Homemade Dinner Rolls Recipe with you and I hope you enjoy making AND eating them!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 250ml (1 cup) Lukewarm Water (43°C/110°F)

METHOD:

  1. In a bowl or jug, place the water, yeast and sugar and set aside for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add in the yeast mixture, egg and oil and start combining. You can do this by hand or with your stand mixer and the dough hook attachment.
  3. Once the dough has come together, transfer it to a floured surface and knead until it becomes smooth, yet slightly stocky. In a stand mixer, mix until the dough looks smooth and pulls away cleanly from the edges.
  4. Form a ball with the dough and place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  5. When your dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. You can put some flour on your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands too much and it makes it easier to work with.
  6. Divide your dough into 12 equal sizes and roll into balls. Grease and line a baking dish and place your dough balls into the dish, covering it with tea towel or plastic wrap.
  7. Let the rolls rise again for another hour, or until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F.
  9. Now, they are ready to be baked! Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the tops. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush the tops with some melted butter.

BROWN BUTTER BANANA BREAD

You’ll never make another banana bread/muffin recipe after trying this one. In this recipe, I heat the butter in a saucepan to ‘brown’ the butter and bring out some nutty flavors and I also bake the bananas to release the sweetness in them!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g Butter (unsalted & softened)
  • 1 cup White or Brown Sugar
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 large, ripe Bananas
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Place your bananas on a baking tray on a piece of baking paper and bake them until the skins turn brown all over. This is going to make the bananas super sweet.

Grease a loaf tin with butter or non-stick spray and line with baking paper.

Brown the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. The butter will turn a deep brown color. Be careful not to burn it, but you want to create some flavor and you will smell the butter. You also don’t want your butter boiling with big bubbles, but just a very light simmer.

Mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl with a hand or stand mixer for about 2 minutes until combined. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Add the baked/mashed bananas and vanilla extract.

Next, add the dry ingredients and only mix until just combined. Now transfer the mixture into your greased and lined loaf tin.

You can add nut or chocolate chips to this recipe. Add some into the batter while mixing and add some more on top just before baking.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer (toothpick) comes out clean.


FRENCH BAGUETTE

Bread doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating to make at home. There are so few ingredients that go into making bread at home, that you really can’t go very wrong. And it’s so rewarding to make your very own bread in your own kitchen and of course even more satisfying to eat! When you feel that soft dough in your hands, smell the fresh yeast aroma through the house and hear that crispy crunch, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made this sooner!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g (4 cups) All Purpose Flour
  • 350ml (1½ cups) Warm Water (37°C – not boiling water, just warm to the touch as too hot will kill the yeast)
  • 5g (1½) teaspoons Yeast
  • 2 teaspoons Salt

HOW TO MAKE FRENCH BAGUETTES:

In a bowl, add the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and mix with the back of a wooden spoon as it is very sticky at this point.

If you are using a stand mixer, add the flour and salt and then add the yeast and water. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium-low speed until the dough becomes smooth and resembles a creamy dough. (the dough is very sticky at this stage)

Brush a large bowl with some vegetable oil and place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it somewhere warm to rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a floured surface and divide the dough into 2, 3 or 4 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 30cm/12 inch rope and place them on a baguette pan or baking tray. Cover them with a tea towel and let them rise until doubled in size, around 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 240°C/460°F and place an oven proof dish or skillet on the bottom rack. Place the baguette pan/baking tray on the top shelf and add 1 cup of water or a handful of ice blocks to the dish/pan on the bottom and close the door quickly.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Let them cool for a little while before serving.

BROWN BUTTER BANANA MUFFINS

You’ll never make another banana bread/muffin recipe after trying this one. In this recipe, I heat the butter in a saucepan to ‘brown’ the butter and bring out some nutty flavors and I also bake the bananas to release the sweetness in them!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g Butter (unsalted & softened)
  • 1 cup White or Brown Sugar
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 large, ripe Bananas
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Place your bananas on a baking tray on a piece of baking paper and bake them until the skins turn brown all over. This is going to make the bananas super sweet.

Grease a muffin tin with butter or non-stick spray.

Brown the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. The butter will turn a deep brown color. Be careful not to burn it, but you want to create some flavor and you will smell the butter. You also don’t want your butter boiling with big bubbles, but just a very light simmer.

Mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl with a hand or stand mixer for about 2 minutes until combined. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Add the baked/mashed bananas and vanilla extract.

Next, add the dry ingredients and only mix until just combined. Use an ice-cream scoop or a large spoon to divide the batter into the muffin tray.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer (toothpick) comes out clean.


This recipe can be used as Loaf Banana Breads too. Just transfer the batter into a greased baking loaf tin that is lined with baking paper and bake for 45 minutes.

You can of course also add some nuts or chocolate chips to the batter and sprinkle some on top!