Vanilla Spice Hot Cross Buns

 

With Easter fast approaching, my thoughts have turned towards festive baking and what could be more Easter-y than Hot Cross Buns. Every year seem to make a new variety – I was particularly pleased with the flavour combination of last years sticky toffee ones (actually i really must make some of them before the weekend!) and chocolate chip varieties of anything go down well in this household.

But by and large Easter baking means spice – hot cross buns, easter biscuits and simnel cake all have a mellow spice that is the taste of sweet easter baking (if you remove chocolate from the equation!). This hot cross buns variation leaves out the dried fruit (to please my kids) but ramps up the spice and adds the mellow sweetness of vanilla. It’s s great combination and I do recommend taking the time to make these for Easter – they’re so rewarding and fun to make.

Vanilla Spice Hot Cross Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 9-12

550-575g strong bread flour

1 tsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1and 1/5 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

seeds from 1/2 a vanilla pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

1 and 3/4 cups warm oat milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, lemon zest, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and melted dairy-free margarine, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper (or as i did, nearish so they link up when baked)
  5. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  6. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  7. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  8. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  10. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

Hot Cross Scones

 

Get it? Since Easter is all about Hot Cross Buns they have to feature. However, I also love scones, then why not link the two to make some wonderfully seasonal baked goodies which are a little out of the ordinary?

The spicing, with added fruit and peel (if desired), is to my mind, the taste of Easter. Who would have thought it would work so beautifully in scone format (or biscuit as I believe they’re known in the US).

Obviously any Easter recipe must feature a cross so these little spiced scones are topped with a water icing cross which was more effective and maybe a bit more celebratory than a traditional flour paste version.

 

Hot Cross Scones

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Makes about 12

 

220g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Up to 100ml dairy-free milk

handful of dried fruit and 2 tbsp mixed peel (optional)

1-2 tbsps granulated sugar

1 tbsp dairy-free milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas mark 6
  2. Grease and flour a baking sheet
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and spices. Rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried fruit and mixed peel if using.
  4. Pour in some of the oat milk. Gently bring together to form a soft dough (do NOT knead or you’ll end up with rock hard scones!). Add more milk if necessary.
  5. Gently pat out to a circle about 5cm thick. Stamp our circles and place on the baking sheet. Gather up the remaining dough, pat out again and stamp out more circles until all the dough is used up
  6. Brush the tops with dairy-free milk and sprinkle over some granulated sugar
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden on the tops and bottoms
  8. Cool on a wire rack

Waffles – egg-free and dairy-free

waffles, egg-free and dairy-free

It’s nearly Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day and the perfect reason for some mid week baking! I’ve got plenty of pancake recipes on my blog, from traditional, crepes to American style puffy fluffy ones. So this year I thought I’d share my trusty waffle recipe.

waffles and blueberry compote

It obviously helps if you have a waffle iron/maker but if not the recipe also works well in a clean greased griddle pan, which provides the necessary dips to give the iconic waffle shape and also hold the delicious fillings. I was lucky enough to get a waffle maker for Christmas so they’ve become a regular feature to our weekend breakfasts and puddings.

Despite having no egg or egg replacer in, this recipe makes fantastically light waffles which turn beautifully golden and crisp around the indentations. Delicious! In fact, Little S asked for this quote added “They’re the best breakfast I’ve ever had’ – well, that’s a good review isn’t it!

We often have them with maple syrup but here I’ve served them with a sweet but tart blueberry compote and vanilla ice cream for a crowd pleasing pudding.

homemade dairy-free egg-free waffles

Egg-free, Dairy-free Waffles

(egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan waffles

makes 6-8

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp melted dairyfree margarine (I prefer Pure) or flavourless oil

1 cup water

  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir.
  2. Pour in the wet ingredients and whisk to form a smooth but thickish batter.
  3. Lightly oil your waffle iron or griddle pan and heat well.
  4. Pour a dollop into each waffle compartment (I find a level ladleful is the perfect amount for my waffle maker). Close and cook until golden on both sides.
  5. If using a griddle pan, cook dollops of batter in the pan until golden on one side and then carefully turn over.
  6. Serve straight away, or keep for later and reheat for 5 minutes in a hot oven before serving.

nut-free waffles

Sticky Toffee Hot Cross Buns

sticky toffee hot cross buns, dairy-free

I posted my recipe for chocolate chip hot cross buns last week, but toffee/fudge flavoured hot cross buns seem to be a big thing this year. I’ve noticed varieties in Waitrose and Marks and Spencer – it really must be the bang on trend flavour of 2016. Never one to miss an opportunity to play with new and exciting flavours, I thought I’d experiment myself with these toffee ones. Now, I haven’t eaten one of the commercial buns, as you can imagine there is no room or need to buy such items in our household, so this is entirely my take on the idea.

I’ve combined the flavours of sticky toffee pudding with hot cross buns and what a cracker of a combination it is. The mellow sweetness of the date purée and subtle spices do work. The purée also gives a rich colour to the dough, enhancing the whole ‘sticky toffee’ look and feel. The dramatic shiny glaze is simply  a thin coating of warmed golden syrup and the buns are then returned to the oven for a few minutes, giving the perfect sticky, shiny top.

vegan sticky toffee hot cross buns

I’ve hardly ever seen a baked item disappear with such speed, they were requested for breakfast, snack and puddings, working perfectly slightly toasted with a smidgen of dairy-free margarine and an extra drizzle of syrup for added sticky toffee naughtiness! I’d think I can safely say these are our new family favourite Easter treat!

Sticky Toffee Hot Cross Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free sticky toffee hot cross buns

makes 12 large buns

500-550g strong bread flour

1 tsp dried yeast

3 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2-1 tsp ginger

1/2-1 tsp cinnamon

100g dates, makes approx 1 cup purée

2 cups dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp melted dairy-free margarine

For the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

2 or 3 tbsp water

For the glaze:

2 tbsp golden syrup

  1. Add the dates to 1 cup of dairy-free milk and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until dates are soft. Blitz, stir in the bicarb and set aside to cool. This should make approximately 1 cup of date purée.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oat milk, date purée and melted dairy-free margarine, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  3. Knead for about 5-10 mins until the dough is smooth and springy. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 12 even sized balls (for a professional look, weigh them to make them all the same size). Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper. Loosely cover with cling film and leave to rise for a further 30 minutes or so.
  5. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  6. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen, golden  and the buns sound hollow

    before the glaze...
    before the glaze…
  7. Make the glaze by warming the syrup. Brush over the hot buns. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  8. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  9. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

    toasted and ready to eat
    toasted and ready to eat

Dairy-free Mini Creme Eggs

dairy-free creme egg

Creme eggs are such a part of Easter, they’re almost iconic. In fact when they appear on the shelves days after Christmas, the whole country makes a collective sigh over the march of time and the incessant selling of seasonal goods by the big supermarkets.

Creme eggs seem to pop up all over the place, so often the egg of choice in commercial Easter egg hunts; events which sadly have never held much appeal for my girls. It’s no so fun to search for something you then have to hand over to a grown up, whilst all your friends gorge themselves on sweet chocolatey delights.

So I’ve always wanted to recreate creme eggs, at least then the girls would know they’re not missing out on not eating the sickly sweet commercial variety. As it happens, these are far more moreish that I remember the shop ones being, no doubt helped by their dinky size! Whilst by no means healthy, I’m sure this variety must be a little more wholesome than Cadburys ones!

dairy-free nut-free creme egg

 

Now I can’t take full praise for the filling, (one which I’d always wondered how to successfully recreate) as I came across a link to Paul A Young making these on This Morning. The idea he used is total genius (well he is a genius chocolatier) and so very simple! The filling is simply grated fondant icing, mixed with a little sugar syrup to give a sticky gooey centre. I happen to have a stock pile of nut-free Dr Oertker roll out fondant icing, but I know since the change in production that nut-free can be hard to find. If necessary homemade can be made using this marshmallow based recipe, or this veggie version.

homemade vegan creme eggs

make dairy-free nut-free creme eggs

Dairy-free Creme Eggs

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan creme egg

Makes 6 small eggs, multiply as necessary

100g dairy-free chocolate

125g fondant icing, grated

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp water

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Melt and temper the chocolate. Coat the egg moulds with a layer of chocolate. Let set and then coat again. Place in the fridge to firm up. Hopefully you’ll have some chocolate left over which should be placed in a piping bag.
  2. Make a sugar syrup by melting the sugar into the water.
  3. Split the grated fondant into two bowl, 100g in one and 25g in the other.
  4. Colour the 25g with yellow food colouring (or use already coloured yellow). Add a dribble of syrup to make the correct gooey texture.
  5. Add the vanilla and sugar syrup to the white icing and again mix to the correct texture (it wants to be thick but gooey).
  6. Fill each half egg, two thirds full with white fondant, top with a dollop of yellow to form the yolk.
  7. Pipe the melted chocolate around the edge of the egg and sandwich two halves together. Leave to set in the fridge and then shave off any excess bits of chocolate.

homemade vegan creme egg

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

 

IMG_7717
Enter a caption

 

It’s not long until Easter, so definitely time for some seasonal baking, and Easter is not Easter without hot cross buns. I made some friendly hot cross buns when I first started blogging and they’ve become a firm favourite. But with my children’s aversion to dried fruit, I concocted this variation that appeals more to them. This recipe also leaves out the flax seed egg-replacer – I seem to have moved away from replacers and prefer to adjust recipes so they don’t need them instead.

The addition of chopped chocolate may be slightly unconventional, but the resulting buns are delightfully aromatic and tasty with the bonus prize of the chocolate going oozy and gooey when the buns are toasted.

IMG_7708

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_7705

makes 9-12

500g strong bread flour

1 tsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups warm oat milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free spread

100g dairy-free chocolate, chopped

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oat milk and dairy-free spread, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
  5. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  6. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  7. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  8. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  10. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

IMG_7724