Easter Rocky Road

Happy Easter (or just long bank holiday weekend) everyone ūüź£

We’re been so lucky this year with a glorious sunny weekend, filled with plenty of time outside enjoying the countryside, having Easter Egg hunts or just gardening. It’s been a really joyous and sunny way to spend a long weekend.

Chocolate is everywhere at easter time, which certainly poses it’s problems for the food-allergy family. Things have definitely improved, but still the majority of Easter treats (and particularly child oriented ones) have to be avoided. Oh to be able to buy candy shelled mini-eggs just like everyone else!

To ensure the chocolate quota is at maximum for everyone I’ve made wonderfully spring-themed rocky road, decorated with homemade mini-eggs (melted dairy-free chocolate set in a mould with a glitter coating) and the obligatory mini fluffy chicks! Also called tiffin or chocolate biscuit cake, this combination of roughly crushed biscuits, rice crisps and marshmallows enrobed in chocolate will delight nearly everyone.

This is also the perfect recipe to use up any leftover chocolate, take away the Easter adornments and you have the perfect teatime treat for any time of year ūüôā

Easter Rocky Road

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

makes 12 or so bars

160g dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped

60g dairy-free margarine

25g golden syrup

100g chocolate biscuits, roughly crushed (I used Lotus biscuits that are (currently) dairy, egg and nut-free)

25g Rice Krispies

50g mini vegetarian marshmallows (or use normal if you’re not vegetarian/vegan)

homemade mini-eggs, jelly eggs and sprinkles to decorate

  1. Line a square brownie tin with non-stick parchment
  2. Melt together the chocolate, margarine and syrup, either in a microwave or over a bain marie
  3. Stir in the crushed biscuits, Rice Krispie and marshmallows.
  4. Evenly spread into the tin and press down.
  5. Scatter over some sprinkles and press the mini and jelly eggs on top for an extra dose of fun
  6. Leave to set in the fridge.
  7. Cut into bars.

Easter Biscuits

 

Easter is such an exciting time of year; spring is finally upon us with all it’s delights of cheeping birds, frolicking lambs and beautiful flowers and it feels like everything is just starting again after the fallow winter months. Easter seems to literally put the spring into everyone’s steps, and we start to look forward again. I feel this in terms of cooking as well as nature, suddenly fresh inspiration hits and there are so many more options open to me. I can’t wait to use all those spring flavours in the next few months. ūüôā

I have many Easter themed recipes on my blog, and not surprisingly lots of them feature a lot of chocolate. However, even though they’re a personal favourite, I’ve never made traditional Easter biscuits. These customary cookies are a celebration of Easter time combining a subtle ‘hot cross bun’ spice with pretty decoration or dried fruit. These biscuits lend themselves equally well to the addition of the traditional juicy currants and crunchy caster sugar topping, or the somewhat fancier crispy yet soft cover of pretty pastel hued icing. Serve these to make a nice change from the chocolate overload and everyone will be happy come Easter weekend!

Easter Biscuits

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

 

makes lots, at least 20 large cookies

300g plain flour

2 tbsps cornflour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

115g vegetable fat (I used Trex)

115g dairy-free margarine (Pure)

225g sugar (either caster or granulated)

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

60ml dairy-free milk

60g currants (if making fruited variety)

  1. Sift together the flour, cornflour, spices, salt and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the fat, spread and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the dairy-free milk and whisk again.
  3. Add the flour mix and carefully combine. Stir in the currants if using.
  4. Roll out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden round the edges
  5. Cool on the sheet before moving to a wire rack.
  6. if making the fruity variety, sprinkle with caster sugar whilst hot.

for the royal icing:

3 tbsps aquafaba (water from a tin of beans or chickpeas)

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

3 cups icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

dairy-free milk to thin the icing

food colouring as desired

  1. In a stand mixer, or an electric whisk, whisk together all the ingredients until a smooth thick paste is created.
  2. Colour as desired. I split the mixture into two, and then coloured each with natural food colouring.
  3. Thin each colour with a splash of milk to make the icing a good consistency to coat the biscuits (thick, but thin enough to pipe!)
  4. Pipe as desired
  5. Let set but leaving at room temperature for a good few hours. If you dare, return the iced biscuits to the oven for a couple of minutes for a smooth shiny finish and then leave to set.

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 ūüôā

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.

 

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 РI 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

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 pur√©e and subtle spices do work. The pur√©e 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