Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

This time of year is just wrong without Hot Cross Buns. I eagerly await the criss crossed beauties appearing in the shops, and very year there’s a new variety to tempt and inspire. These days I wouldn’t buy a Hot Cross bun as I’ve not found any safe ones (I know vegan versions exist but they’re generally not free-from enough for us) and so come March I make batch after batch of buns. I’d really recommend giving it a go, they’re not hard to make and the satisfaction of a house filled with a spicy aroma and perfect buns appearing from the oven is second to none!

I’ve made many friendly hot cross buns and they’ve become a firm favourite, so much so that Little S has them for breakfast if she gets the chance. For some reason my children have an aversion to dried fruit, so I concocted this variation that appeals more to them.

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. The added bonus is that they freeze beautifully. Simply defrost and then warm in an oven or toaster, and enjoy perfect hot cross buns anytime 🙂

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

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

 

makes 9-12

500g strong bread flour

1 tbsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 or 2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

500ml warm dairy-free milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

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 dairy-free milk and 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
  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.

 

Salted Caramel Sticky Buns

Imagine a cinnamon bun, but better? Difficult? Yes. Impossible? NO way, not when you’ve tasted these stunning salted caramel sticky buns.

These salted caramel sticky bun made out of cinnamon swirl buns so you get all the benefits of a deliciously spicy swirl bun which is then cooked in a lake of salted caramel, you can’t get much more exciting than that! Not only are these buns the epitome of luxury and comfort at the same time, they also reheat wonderfully to give the perfect winter pudding or snack. Honestly, you must try them, you’re life will not be complete until you have 🙃

Salted Caramel Sticky Buns

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

makes 14

250-300ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

400g plain flour

2 tsp dried yeast

50g or 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cornflour

For the filling:

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

For the salted caramel:

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

1 cup soft dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

  1. Melt the margarine and milk together – you want it to be warm and melted but not hot
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, cornflour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mix
  3. Bring together to a soft dough and knead until its smooth and bounces back when poked
  4. Cover and let double in size
  5. While waiting for the dough to prove, make the caramel. Melt together the sugar, margarine and salt until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Grease two cake tins, pour the caramel into each tin so the bottom is entire covered.
  7. Knock back the dough and roll out to a large rectangle
  8. Smear on the dairy-free margarine. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon, then roll up tightly into a long sausage
  9. Cut into 14 even slices. Place 7 in each caramel lined cake tin, 6 in a circle and 1 in the middle.
  10. Cover and leave to rise again for another half an hour
  11. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4/375 degrees F
  12. Bake for 20-30 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through. They’ll look like traditional cinnamon swirls at this stage
  13. Now comes the magic! Invert onto a plate, being careful not to get caramel on yourself. Serve warm.
  14. To reheat: place in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes or microwave for 1 minute

 

Pizza Marinara – the perfect naturally dairy-free pizza choice

***Disclaimer***

*This is a sponsored post by Hans Grill whereby I received a free pizza stone in return for a review.*

I’ve always wanted a pizza stone but never got round to buying one, so I was delighted when Hans Grill offered me the opportunity to receive a free stone. They really are a great addition to your kitchen if you like making pizza, and I’m a big pizza fan.

With a stone baked pizza you get such a delicious crust which has bubbles, charred bits and tastes just right. They’re not too much bother either – you just need to place it on one of the wire racks (not the bottom of the oven) and heat on full temperature for about 40 minutes. Then dust with flour and slide on your pizza using the handy wooden peel. You could of course make this pizza without the stone, by simply placing it on a baking sheet, but you will get the improved flavour and texture of a stone baked dough which I really like.

There are more and more vegan pizzas available to buy which is a great thing, but my girls don’t really like vegan cheese, so we usually opt for homemade and then everyone can be happy with the choice of toppings.

A marinara pizza is a traditional Italian recipe and the perfect option if you’re avoiding dairy – the combination of tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and olive oil is a match made in heaven and is rightly classed as a classic. Enjoy it as it is or pep it up with veggies, olives, or the usual pizza toppings.

 

Marinara Pizza

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

makes 4 to 5

for the dough:

450g OO flour

1 tbsp dried yeast

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

250-300ml warm water

for the topping:

150ml tomato paste or pizza sauce (try Pizza Express passata)

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

oregano

extra virgin olive oil

  1. First make the dough. Add all the dough ingredients and knead well. Leave to prove in a covered bowl in a warm place. You want it to double in size and that will take a couple of hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to the highest setting. If using a pizza stone, place it on one of the wire racks in the oven and heat for 40 minutes.
  3. Portion the dough into 4 or 5 pieces. Roll onto out using a little extra flour. Flour the peel and place the dough on top, making sure it can freely move. Or place the dough on a baking sheet.
  4.  Swirl on some tomato passata, top with chopped garlic, sprinkle with oregano and then drizzle with a little oil.
  5. Season. Slide onto the pizza stone, or place the baking sheet into the oven.
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes on the stone or 10-12 minutes on the baking sheet.
  7. Serve hot.

 

Marmite Scones

Are you a Marmite lover or a Marmite hater? There seems to be no in-between and we’re a family that contains both, so it’s always a quandary as to whether to use it as a flavouring or not. Although to be fair there are far more Marmite lovers, so the savoury yeasty spread often wins.

I find that savoury snacks are lacking for Little S – there are so many things she can’t have when out people would reach for a savoury option. That’s where the marmite comes in. Little S really doesn’t like marmite but she loves these deeply savoury scones, somehow the marmite-y flavour turns into a more appealing savoury taste when it’s added to a bake. Savoury scones make a perfect tasty snack or side to a big bowl of soup, or just a speedily made change from a bread roll. The beauty of scones is that they take little time to make and bake, so once you feel confident you can whip up a batch in no time at all. Serve with extra marmite if you’re on the fan side!

I’d heard that adding cream of tartar made scones extra light and fluffy and I was desperate to try the idea out, and my it’s a great addition, the texture of these scones will blow your mind. Look at that craggy delicate texture, no heavy stodgy scones here!

Marmite Scones

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

makes about 8 large scones

250g plain flour

1/4tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

25g dairyfree margarine

15g vegetable fat (or use 15g extra margarine)

150ml dairy free milk

2 tsp marmite

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Centigrade
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. Rub the fats into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir the marmite into the milk and pour into the flour mix. Very gently bring together to form a rough dough. Be very gentle, do not knead, otherwise you’ll get tough scones and no-one wants that!
  4. Stamp out circles and place on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little milk mixed with marmite.
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and risen. 

Savoury Pretzels

Snacks – I don’t think we’d get through a day without snacks and that’s always particularly apparent at the weekend or in the school holidays. Biscuits and cakes are all well and good but sometimes savoury is the only way to go. Crisps are great, everyone loves crisps right? But they’re not exactly filling and nutritious.

I have a small repertoire of interesting savoury options: sausage rolls, savoury scones, cheesy crackers etc but I’m always on the look out for new ideas which are not only suitable but pleasing to everyone. Then I spied some big pretzels for sale – now that looks like a good idea. Chewy, bread based and certainly filling. I’ve never really delved into the wonderful world of pretzels before but in doing some research it seems they’re often served with mustard. Bingo! Inspiration! So here’s my take on savoury pretzels, topped with a mustard glaze and because dips make everything better, served with a sweet mustard sauce. These certainly keep those hunger pangs at bay with a satisfying snack. They also make great tasty sandwich rolls 😋

Savoury Pretzels

(Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian, can be vegan) contains mustard

makes 8-10

500g strong bread flour

7g dried fast action yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

300 ml warm water

2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (for the boiling water)

for the glaze:

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp mustard

1 tbsp oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda to form a dough and knead well until smooth silky and you can feel the gluten and firmed up the dough. Cover and leave to prove for at least one hour.
  2. Knock back and cut into 8-10 even sized pieces. Roll each one into a sausage shape with slightly tapered ends, then tie in a lose knot. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and let rise for another 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the over to 200 degrees centigrade
  4. Bring a pan of water to the boil, once boiling tip in the bicarbonate of soda and drop each knot into the boiling solution for about 5 seconds.
  5. Remove and place on an oiled baking sheet.
  6. Brush with a little of the glaze and bake for 15 minutes until deeply golden
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and bush with the remaining glaze and sprinkle over a little salt. Leave to cool.
  8. Serve fresh with a dip of equal parts honey/syrup and mustard pepped up with a dash of hot sauce.
  9. These pretzels also freeze well. Defrost thoroughly and then refresh in a hot oven for a few minutes.

Strawberry Scones

The sun’s out and I feel inspired and buzzing with fresh ideas. There really isn’t anything like the end of Winter to make me feel ready to attack the spring and summer with gusto – it’s amazing what a bit of warmth and sunlight can do!

We had a lovely trip to see the sea of bluebells last weekend, which is a bit of a yearly tradition in my part of the country, which culminated with cool drinks in a National Trust cafe. All the other customers seemed to be tucking into cream teas (obviously it was drinks or nothing for us!), which got me thinking about making a batch of scones. Scones, with their association with cream teas and strawberry jam always seem rather summery to me, so perfect for my current vibe. So here is a cracking combination of scones and strawberries  so we can tuck into a cream tea at home.

I’d really recommend using freeze-dried berries in sweet recipes, as you get all the flavour and none of the ‘sog factor’, so there’s no need to adjust the indigents to factor in extra moisture.

 

Strawberry Scones

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

Makes about 20

450g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

75g dairy-free margarine

75g caster sugar

300 ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

1 tsp berry essence, if you have it

1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries , roughly chopped

To top: 2 tbsp oat milk 2 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets.
  2. Rub the margarine into the flour, sugar and baking powder until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  3. Pour in the essence and dairy-free milk and very gently bring together to a soft dough. It’s very important not to work scone dough. Add the freeze dried berries.
  4. Gently pat out the dough until its about 1 inch thick. Using a 2inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place on the baking sheets Continue, gently bringing the dough back into a ball and cutting out, until all the dough has been used up.
  5. Brush the top of each with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with sugar Bake for about 20-25 minutes until starting to turn golden. Cool on a wire rack.