hot cross bun loaf

hot cross bun loaf

I remember eating supermarket hot cross buns as a child and wishing there was no fruit in them at all (I was an extra strange child.) But these days the fruit is my favourite part… and no hot cross bun ever really has enough dried fruit in it for me. So in this loaf, I succumbed to all my hot-cross-bun-dreams, with the ratio of weight of fruit and peel to flour being 1:1! The end result in a spiced, soft bread replete with all the dried fruit and peel one could hope for – but not too much that it overly weights the dough down. Toasted and buttered, it makes for a very nice breakfast indeed.

hot cross bun loaf
hot cross bun loaf
hot cross bun loaf
hot cross bun loaf

For the dough itself, I worked off of what has become my usual hot cross bun dough. It bakes up very nicely in loaf form, though if you’d rather, this could make 10-12 buns instead. Alongside the classic raisins and currants, I included dried apricots – one of my favourite dried fruits, which I suppose I hadn’t put in buns previously because it would feel like I was pushing out the raisins and currants. But here, with this much fruit, there’s enough room for everyone. (And they make for nice golden cubes in the terrazzo-like cross-section.)

This dough is only partially whole wheat to keep it from being too dense. And yes, the dough will look a little ridiculous, with bits of fruit falling out everywhere, but keep in mind that the fruit will spread apart as the dough rises – and that the whole point of this loaf is the fruit!

hot cross bun loaf

hot cross bun loaf

Dough based on previous hot cross buns.

  • 60g dried currants
  • 80g raisins
  • 100g dried apricots, cut into raisin-sized dice
  • 150g whole wheat flour
  • 145g all-purpose flour + 5g wheat gluten (or 150g bread flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 large egg
  • 190g whole milk
  • 55g butter, softened
  • 73g candied orange peel, chopped
  • beaten egg, for egg wash
  • flour cross: 30g flour and about 30-32g water

Begin by plumping up the dried fruit. Combine the dried fruit in a jar or bowl and cover with a cup of hot tea – if your fruit is extremely dried out, you may want to let it sit and plump overnight. Otherwise, half an hour or so is good enough to just soften. Once done, drain the dried fruit and pat dry.

Stir together the flours, wheat gluten, instant yeast, salt and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the egg and milk and stir until a soft dough is formed. Knead using the dough hook (alternatively, do this by hand) until the dough is smooth. Add the butter a lump at a time, working in each addition before the next. Knead for a few more minutes to ensure the dough is soft, stretchy and elastic. Add the dried fruit and chopped peel and knead into the dough. It will look a bit ridiculous but the fruit will spread out as the dough rises.

Cover the dough and let rise until puffed, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (as there is a lot of dried fruit, the volume won’t have appeared to have doubled). Meanwhile, grease a loaf tin and line with a parchment paper sling (I used a 9x4x4″ pullman loaf tin – the amount of dough could be a bit much for a standard loaf tin).

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into eight equal pieces, each about 120g. Roll each piece into a ball and pack together in two rows of four in the loaf tin. Pick off any pieces of dried fruit or peel which have come to the surface (uncovered by dough) as they will burn in the oven. Cover and let rise until well puffed, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Stir together the flour and water for the flour cross and transfer the paste to a piping bag fitted with a very fine round tip (I used a tip with a 2mm diameter opening). Once the dough is risen – it won’t appear doubled due to all the dried fruit – brush the loaf with a bit of beaten egg. Use the piping bag to pipe lines of flour paste over the loaf.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until well browned and the internal temperature reaches at least 190F. (I found this took a bit of a longer longer bake then I expected – if you have a thermometer, I recommend checking the internal temperature to make sure the centre is cooked through!) Let cool 5 minutes in the loaf tin, then finish cooling on a wire rack. Serve in slices smeared with lots of butter.

marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns

marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns
marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns
marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns

Surely there is little that cannot be improved by the addition of marzipan. As such, there is a whole wad of marzipan in the centre of these hot cross buns. Especially while the buns are still slightly warm, the marzipan is sticky and soft, and acts as a sort of built-in spread – though I think it’s best with some butter piled on top of the whole thing as well.

I thought I may as well post the recipe now, though I’ve made these buns at random non-Easter times of year. They have a great general holiday-ish vibe, not least in their resemblance to stollen.

marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns
marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns

I’ve used the same dough as in these whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns, but converted it back to instant yeast. Either dough will do depending on your preference. Again, no sugar is needed in the dough because there is more than enough to sufficiently sweeten the bun between the dried fruit, candied peel, glaze, and oh, did I mention, wad of marzipan?

marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns

marzipan-stuffed hot cross buns

dough

  • 85g dried fruit, about 1/3 each golden raisins, dark raisins and currants (or other fruit as per your preference)
  • 40g dark rum
  • 225g whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 130g whole milk
  • 42g butter, softened
  • 55g candied orange peel, chopped (you can find the recipe here)
  • 120g marzipan (recipe below, or use storebought)

flour cross

  • 30g flour
  • 32g water (may vary – start with a bit less)

egg wash

  • beaten egg, for egg wash

glaze

  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1-2 drops almond extract, optional

The day before, prepare combine the dried fruit and dark rum in a small container or jar. Cover and let soak overnight.

The next day, prepare the dough. Stir together the flour, yeast, salt and spices. Add the 1 egg and milk, and stir until a dough is formed. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple minutes until smooth. Knead in the butter, a small knob at a time. Now add the fruit – drain the dried fruit from the rum, and knead it, along with the candied peel, into the dough. At first it will feel like it all just keeps falling out, but keep at it, adding the pieces of fallen fruit back into the middle of the dough. Once the fruit is evenly distributed, transfer the dough to a bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, divide the marzipan into eight 15g portions, and roll each into a ball. Line a baking tray with a piece of parchment paper.

Once the dough is risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into eight pieces (each about 75g). Preshape each piece into a ball. Flatten a ball of dough and place a ball of marzipan in the centre. Pinch the dough to close around it, and roll into a tight ball (a helpful technique for this is to cup your hand over the ball of dough and move your hand in a small circular motion to help pull the surface of the dough more taut). Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Space the balls of dough evenly on the prepared baking tray. Pick off any exposed pieces of dried fruit or peel as they will burn in the oven. Cover with plastic and let rise until well-puffed, about 1 hour. Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350F.

To make the flour cross, whisk together the flour and water to form a thick, pipeable paste. Transfer to a piping bag with a fine round tip (I used one 2mm in diameter).

Brush the buns with eggwash. Pipe lines using the flour paste over the buns. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.

While the buns are baking, prepare the syrup by dissolving the granulated sugar into the boiling water. Add a couple drops of almond extract to mirror the marzipan taste. Brush over the hot buns, once they are baked and out from the oven. Let the buns cool on a wire rack. Eat, smothered with butter.

marzipan

Makes 300g worth. Based on the Daring Gourmet.

  • 120g finely ground almonds
  • 160g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1 large egg white

Grind the almonds and icing sugar together in the bowl of a food processor until fine and all the lumps are gone. Add the almond extract and rosewater and pulse to combine. Lastly, add the egg white and process until the marzipan forms a ball. Shape into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic and store in the fridge.

whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns

whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns
whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns
whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns

Goodness, you might be thinking, so glad to see that Bartholomew the sourdough starter is finally out and about and probably getting fed! And you would be right in that these buns are the latest leavening project he embarked upon. But, alas, as I am always slow to post things, I made these buns spring last year, so….

(One day, Bartholomew, one day. Hang tight until then!)

whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns
whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns

To get us started on the hot cross bun season, here is a tribute to the classic made with whole wheat, sourdough and plenty of dried fruit. They might sound a little austere but the butter, spices and dried fruit make sure it is anything but. Let’s tackle these one by one:

  • whole wheat – I think the flavour of whole wheat flour fits well with the spice and dried fruit! With a bit of extra hydration, the buns still bake up quite soft.
  • sourdough – I don’t always love the taste of sourdough in desserts, but in this case I find it goes rather nicely with the dried fruit. Building the dough in two steps allows an (understandably) lethargic sourdough starter to keep up and prevents the acidity from overwhelming the dough.
  • good dose of dried fruit – I actually first made these a couple of years ago, but they didn’t have nearly enough dried fruit in them (this may be personal opinion though as no recipe I’ve consulted seems to have enough for me!), so when I revisited last year, I made sure to bump up the fruit content. I also found that the dough itself doesn’t need any additional sugar as each bite has some dried fruit or candied peel to provide sufficient sweetness.
whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns

whole wheat sourdough hot cross buns with lots of fruit

Makes 9 buns in an 8×8″ pan. Bun recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour – though with each subsequent adaptation the resemblance decreases – and crosses from BBC Good Food

soaked fruits

  • 85g dried raisins and/or currants
  • 4 tbsp dark rum (or substitute tea, if you prefer)

sponge

  • 50g 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 50g whole wheat flour
  • 50g water

dough

  • 180g whole wheat flour (to start – depending on the dough consistency, you may need to knead in more in at the end)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 20g brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 60mL milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 42g soft butter
  • 65g drained candied orange or other citrus peel, chopped (recipe here)

flour cross

  • 30g flour
  • 32g water (may vary – start with a bit less)

egg wash

  • beaten egg

glaze

  • 1 tbsp apricot jam

Day 1: Soak the fruit and make the sponge.

Combine the raisins and/or currants and rum in a small bowl. Cover and let sit overnight to plump the raisins. In a separate bowl, stir together the ingredients for the sponge. Cover and let sit overnight to ferment.

Day 2: Make the dough & first rise.

Place the flour, salt, sugar and spices for the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir together, the add the milk, egg and sponge. Mix the dough until smooth using the dough hook, scraping down the hook/sides of the bowl as needed. Knead for a few minutes to develop the gluten. Then add the butter a lump at a time and mix until the butter is incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter. If it is quite sticky, knead in some more flour (just a bit at a time) until the dough is on the slightly sticky-side of tacky. I often find the dough stiffens up a bit later with time.

Drain the dried fruit. Knead the fruit and peel into the dough – at first it will just keep falling out, but with patience it will work its way in. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth again – as you continue to knead, the fruit will continue to fall out, so occasionally add the fallen pieces back into the centre of the dough.

Place the dough in a container to rise (no need to oil it) until about doubled – how long it will take will depend on your starter, but mine took about 6 hours. At this point you can chill the dough overnight or keep going if you have another 6 hours left in your day.

Day 3 (or still day 2): 2nd rise and baking

Butter an 8×8″ square pan and line the bottom with a square of parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 9 pieces, each approximately 75g. Shape each into a ball. To tighten the form, place the ball on the counter (unfloured so the dough will grip onto the counter a bit) and cup your hand over top, and move your hand in small circles. Arrange the balls in the prepared pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise until the buns are well puffed and touching each other. The duration will vary by sourdough starter activity again, but mine took around 4 hours. To tell when they are fully risen, the dough will spring back slowly when poked with a damp finger, and the dent will not quite completely fill in.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To make the flour cross, whisk together the flour and water to form a thick, pipeable paste. Transfer to a piping bag with a small round tip – here I used a 2mm tip diametre round tip.

Brush the risen buns with egg wash and then pipe lines of dough overtop the buns. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until nicely browned and the internal temperature of the middle bun is at least 180-185F. Rotate halfway through baking for even browning.

For the apricot jam glaze, melt the tbsp of apricot jam with a scant tsp of water and press through a sieve to remove any chunks. Brush over the freshly baked buns.

pork floss garlic cheese bread

pork floss garlic cheese bread
pork floss garlic cheese bread
pork floss garlic cheese bread

My parents love to garden, especially things which grow well – and in more recent years they’ve discovered garlic. It began as one type, then a few more from the farmers market or specialty plant stores or gardener friends. Each saved bulb gets separated into papery cloves and planted in the fall, emerging next spring and harvested in the summer as a complete bulb. It all means I get access to all the garlic I could ever want and far more.

This year it is several cultivars of garlic. No one has kept track of just how many cloves got planted last year, but no doubt it is a lot.

pork floss garlic cheese bread
pork floss garlic cheese bread
pork floss garlic cheese bread
pork floss garlic cheese bread
pork floss garlic cheese bread

This is a sort-of-ish take on Korean cream cheese garlic bread – flower-shaped buns stuffed with sweetened cream cheese and dipped in a garlic-heavy custard. Between the cheese and custardy glaze, which soaks into the cut edges of the bread, it makes for a rich (and gooey) garlic bread with a noticeably endearing sweetness. It’s a case study in combining sweet and savoury, all in the backdrop of toasty bread and plenty of garlic.

As delicious as the classic cream cheese garlic bread it, I find myself slightly wishing it wasn’t quite as sweet (which is very much just my personal preference!). That, and I was thinking about how this might go well with another sweet-savoury thing, pork floss, made of dried shreds of pork which are slightly sweetened and spiced. The result were these buns, made of milk bread bread baked with a savoury garlic cream cheese filling, then doused in the classic garlic glaze and crowned with a majestic pile of pork floss. Slid into the oven for a second bake, they emerge pungent, the bun soft and the frayed edges of the pork floss charred. By letting the pork floss be the main source of sweetness, it retains the sweet-savoury homage to the classic, but keeps it more subtle. To me, it’s the perfect balance and my ideal sweetness for a garlic bread. (Though if you’re a true Korean cream cheese garlic bread fan, I’ve also included a suggestion for a sweetened filling as well.)

After a couple batches of these two weekends in a row the entire kitchen smelled like garlic, my clothes smelled like garlic, and I smelled like garlic. I ate one every day for lunch for a week until my blood became permanently infused with garlic. I think I finally became one with the garlic. Good practice for the upcoming garlic season later this summer.

pork floss garlic cheese bread

pork floss garlic cheese bread

Milk bread adapted from Christine’s Recipes. Korean garlic cheese bread aspects adapted from The Plaid Apron.

tangzhong

  • 51g water
  • 10g all-purpose flour

milk bread

  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp warm water
  • 36g milk
  • 10g heavy cream
  • 25g egg
  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 10g granulated sugar
  • 16g butter, softened

first bake

cream cheese filling

  • 80g cream cheese
  • 1 thin green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

eggwash

  • beaten egg for egg wash

second bake

garlic butter glaze

  • 28g (2 tbsp) butter
  • 15g (1 tbsp) milk
  • 3/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp each dried oregano and dried basil
  • 12g egg

garnish

  • pork floss

To make the tangzhong, whisk together the flour and water in a small saucepan until there are no lumps. Heat over low-medium, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens into a thin paste and lines are left in the roux behind when stirring (check by stirring without touching the bottom of the saucepan). If you have a thermometer, check the temperature – it should be 65C or 149F. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

For the dough, mix together the yeast, tbsp of water and a sprinkle of sugar. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until it bubbles and smells yeasty (not necessary with instant yeast but sometimes I prefer this to ensure the yeast granules break up).

Whisk the milk and eggs into the tangzhong.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat gluten if using, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the tangzhong/milk/egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon (or use the dough hook of a standmixer) until a cohesive dough is formed. Turn out onto the counter and knead in the soft butter in two additions. The dough should be smooth, elastic and tacky. Place the dough in a container and let rise overnight in the fridge (or if you want to do it all in one day, go ahead and let it rise 1 hour at room temperature or until doubled and then proceed immediately).

The next day turn out the risen dough on a floured surface. Deflate and divide into 6 equal pieces (each about 50g). Roll each piece into a ball, then use a rolling pin to roll each ball out to 8cm diameter disc. Place the pieces of dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers to poke the centre of each disc to thin out the amount of dough there (it will make it a bit easier for you later when filling). Cover and let rise until well puffed, 1-2 hours (longer if the dough is cold).

Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix together the cream cheese, green onion, garlic and salt. (If you prefer the sweet filling which is more classic, you can also mix in about 15g of sugar.) Set aside until ready to use.

Near the end of the rise, start preheating the oven to 375F for the first bake. Once the dough is risen, fill the dough. Wet your fingers under the tap so the dough doesn’t stick, and tamp a loonie-sized area in the centre of each bun to accommodate the filling. Scoop about 1 tbsp of the cream cheese filling into each indent. Brush the buns all over with beaten egg. Place the buns in the oven and turn the temperature down to 350F. Bake around 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let the baked buns cool a few minutes before proceeding with the next steps.

Next, prepare for the second bake by turning the oven temperature up to 400F. Make the garlic butter glaze by placing the butter and milk together in a small heatproof bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the remaining ingredients for the glaze.

Use a thin bamboo skewer to poke the buns all over – this will allow a little but of the glaze to seep into the bun itself. Brush the buns generously with the glaze. Put a large spoonful of pork floss on top of each bun.

Bake the buns for about 5 minutes or until the pork floss has browned a bit, the garlic is fragrant and glaze that has slid down the sides of the buns and onto the tray is sizzling. Eat warm!

rosemary & yuzu kosho focaccia (& the cousin reviews…2021)

rosemary yuzu kosho focaccia

The Cousin (aka the Writographer) is my one and only loyal blog reader. As she lives across the country from me, she often doesn’t often get the chance to actually try my bakes but I always love hearing her impressions on the recipes. I went through our texts to collect some thoughts she had sent about the past year’s worth of recipes, for a bit of a blog year in review from her perspective. (Shared with my cousin’s permission!)

the cousin reviews…2021

Chocolate prune and whiskey ice cream: Why would you add prunes and whiskey to chocolate ice cream? Interesting though, just not my taste.  

Mango fennel mousse cake: The mango fennel mousse cake looks incredible!
Do I like mango? No…
Do I despise fennel? Yes…
But it looks really good. I am almost tempted.

Orange, fennel & almond biscotti: I almost like the flavours, but I hate fennel.

Grapefruit cream tart: I think I would eat that grapefruit tart! Yay, you’ve now made two things I’ll eat.

Saffron & cardamom hot cross buns: …hmm.

Burnt miso and star anise banana tarte tatin: Interesting. I am not a fan of bananas and I really dislike star anise. So…

Cardamom-poached rhubarb & browned butter almond tart: I hate cardamom, not sure about rhubarb and sometimes I like almond. But I love butter.

Beet morning glory muffins: Your photos for the muffins look so good! But I don’t think I’d enjoy them… (beets, coconut, raisins, and pecans…)

Caramelized banana houjicha cream puffs: Apart from the banana, the cream puffs look delicious!

Spiced chestnut pumpkin tart: I’m surprised that you’re still cooking with chestnut purée. I am scarred for life.
Pie looks great though.
Ugh I will never have chestnut puree again.

(While this might make my cousin sound picky, she does seem to eat just about anything I give her (including many of the ingredients she professes to dislike) so either she is far too trusting or far less picky than she thinks, or both.)

rosemary yuzu kosho focaccia
rosemary yuzu kosho focaccia
rosemary yuzu kosho focaccia
rosemary yuzu kosho focaccia

I made this rosemary focaccia with the addition of yuzu kosho, a fermented yuzu and chili condiment (for more on yuzu kosho and ways to use it, look at this article from Just One Cookbook!). The yuzu kosho provides spice and a bit of citrus, a combination I love along with the rosemary, and acts to really brighten up the focaccia. I’m also a big fan of this dough, adapted from a Rose Levy Beranbaum recipe: high hydration, springy and rises with a great craggy crumb.

I am on the fence about how edible my cousin thinks this focaccia would be. While I think she would like the yuzu kosho, I’m not sure how she feels about rosemary… (Edit: the cousin has spoken – rosemary is fine but she is not sure about the spice from the yuzu kosho… until next time she visits, I suppose!)

rosemary yuzu kosho focaccia

rosemary & yuzu kosho focaccia

  • Servings: one 9 by 13-inch pan
  • Print

Dough adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. 

dough

  • 300g all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 240g water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + more for the pan

topping

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp green yuzu kosho
  • 1 heaping packed tbsp rosemary leaves
  • coarse salt

To make the dough, combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Once a rough dough is formed, cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 20 minutes.

To knead in a mixer, use the dough hook (about 10-15 minutes on medium speed; probably quicker on a higher speed) and work the dough until very stretchy and elastic and at least close to passing the windowpane test. It will become less sticky as you go on.

To knead by hand, as it’s a very well hydrated and sticky dough, this is a perfect time to use the slap and fold method à la Richard Bertinet (Beranbaum describes a method to do with pinching the dough to elongate it but I expect it accomplishes the same thing). Pick up the dough in both hands and slap it down on the countertop. Pull the part of the dough you’re holding towards you to stretch the dough, then fold it in half. Pick up the dough again, but this time from a 90 degree angle so that when you slap it back down the dough is rotated 90 degrees. Repeat. Throughout the process the dough will be very sticky, but that’s okay! Relax, tell yourself it’s okay that my hands are coated in sticky dough, and try not to use any additional flour. I find the best way to keep myself motivated about kneading is to listen to music – this dough is a three-song knead (about 10 minutes). By the end, the dough should be supple and stretchy, and perhaps less sticky than it began.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with the damp cloth, and let rest twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, scrape it out onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch out the dough into a square and fold into thirds like a letter in one direction, and fold into thirds again in the other direction. Return to the bowl, rest another 20 minutes and repeat the folding.

Let the dough rise until it appears about doubled, 1-2 hours.

Pour a bit of olive oil into a 9×13″ metal baking tin and spread it around to grease the tin. Pull the dough out of the bowl and stretch it out in your hands first into a rectangular shape. Place the dough in the pan and turn it over so both sides are coated in oil. Use your fingers to stretch out the dough to fit the pan. It will probably spring back on your a bit so cover the pan, let the dough relax 15 minutes, and then stretch the dough again. (Repeat another time if needed – try not to overdo it on the olive oil and this process will be easier).

Allow to rise until bubbly and it appears somewhat doubled in height, approximately another 1 1/2 hours.

While the dough rises, whisk together the olive oil and yuzu kosho – it won’t become smooth, but the yuzu kosho will separate into smaller bits and become more distributed throughout the oil. Add the rosemary leaves and mix.

Preheat the oven to 450F near the end of the rise.

Once the dough is risen, dip your hands in water and use your fingers to deeply dimple the dough all over, pressing down to the bottom of the pan. Use a spoon to scatter the oil mixture evenly, being sure to get some yuzu kosho clumps in each spoonful, over the focaccia (you may need to use your fingers to separate the rosemary leaves to prevent them from clumping). Sprinkle generously!! with salt.

Place the focaccia in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until browned on top.

black sesame babka

black sesame babka
black sesame babka
black sesame babka

My friend and I had been talking about going for shaved ice for days. It was the smooth and creamy-style of shaved ice, where the ice is brushed up into ripples like bundled taffeta. The elegant pale grey of the black sesame flavour lent it the stately air of a flounce of ruffles that could be found at the sleeve of a nineteenth-century ball gown. And, most importantly, each order was voluminous: mounded up on the plate to reach approximately the volume of a small roast chicken.

Blinded by the beauty of its excess, we didn’t quite reckon with the reality of its quantity. A quarter of way through I was thoroughly done with black sesame. Halfway, I was full. By the three-quarter point I began to employ the secret technique of mashing the shaved ice into the melted pool at the bottom of the plate to make it seem as though there was less. My friend, a considerably more virtuous person than me, continued to eat with gallant determination until even she broke down and succumbed to her fullness. The plate had transformed from enticing mountain to a sneering, melting pool of a failure – and we left in shame.

black sesame babka
black sesame babka
black sesame babka
black sesame babka
black sesame babka

This happened a couple years ago, and from that point on, my love for black sesame was broken. I still like it, but not in the same way I used to. I was recalling this experience with my friend recently and found out that she never particularly cared much for black sesame to begin with… choosing black sesame was all my idea! (At least a fruit flavour would have been more manageable!)

Anyways, somehow, here is a black sesame babka. Eaten by the slice – buttery bread, with a toasted black sesame filling, a bit of icing for sweetness – it’s distinctly black sesame (but not too much black sesame as even I still enjoy it!). Besides, at one point, I did properly love this loaf – it’s a refresh of this old black sesame babka from my blog’s early days. I’ve made this one with instant yeast instead of sourdough and extra swirly for even more black sesame filling (oh joy).

black sesame babka

black sesame babka

Dough adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. 

dough

  • 150g bread flour or all purpose flour
  • 115g whole wheat flour
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 4g kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 large eggs
  • 95g water
  • 75g soft butter

filling

  • 60g soft butter
  • 60g ground black sesame seeds
  • 30g granulated sugar

baking

  • beaten egg for eggwash

glaze

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk or as needed

Begin by making the dough. In the bowl of a standmixer, whisk together the flours, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the water and eggs and mix until a rough dough is formed. The dough will be rather stiff. Use the dough hook to knead for a few minutes or until the dough smoothes out.

Add the soft butter a chunk at a time and work into the dough using the dough hook. As more butter is incorporated, the dough will become softer. You’ll have to scrape down the dough hook every so often as the dough rides up. Once all the butter is incorporated, knead for a few minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise until doubled, an hour or two – or at this point, put the dough in the fridge to rise overnight.

Prepare the filling by mixing together all the filling ingredients.

Butter a loaf pan and line with a sling of parchment paper.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 38x28cm. Spread with the filling, sparing one strip of dough along a long edge where you will seal the roll. Brush that strip of dough lightly with water. Roll up into a log start at the opposite long edge and seal. Cut the roll in half length wise. Turn so both cut ends are facing up. Wind the two halves together by lifting up one end and placing it over the other, always keeping the cut sides facing up. Fold the braid in half (still keeping the cut edges facing upwards) and place in the prepared loaf pan. 

Let rise for an hour or two until puffed.

Later in the rise, preheat the oven to 400F.

Brush the loaf with egg wash. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes at 400F, then turn the temperature to 350F for the remainder of the baking.

Bake the babka for around 30-40 minutes or until the babka is nicely browned and the internal temperature is at least 180F. 

To prepare the glaze, whisk the icing sugar with the milk, adding enough for a thick but runny glaze. Drizzle over the loaf once it has cooled and is only warm, not hot. Let loaf finish cooling for the glaze to set.

apple butter gingerbread rolls with browned butter icing

apple butter gingerbread rolls

Remember back when I started this blog and wrote a halfhearted 2-second blog tagline which ended up staying permanently? Books(?), I thought. I sometimes still read. Sort of. Maybe I’ll write about books. Let’s put books(?) to be safe.

Today it’s only gotten worse. I read one novel in 2020 (plus one graphic novel)- it was perfect for the early pandemic days when I had the massive privilege of being able to stay home, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, about a man under house arrest in peri-revolution Russia.

Recently I confided that I had not read anything in 2021 over the phone with my cousin (The Cousin, in fact). Reading is second nature for The Cousin so understandably she gasped in abject horror.

apple butter gingerbread rolls
apple butter gingerbread rolls
apple butter gingerbread rolls
apple butter gingerbread rolls

But! I finally read something this year (The Cousin, I know you’ll read this eventually so… LOOK! I read!). Helen Oyeyemi has been one of my favourite authors since I first chanced across her novel Mr. Fox in high school. Most recently, she wrote Peaces in which a couple alights, due to some slight coercion, aboard a mysterious train for their not-honeymoon honeymoon. The train has a sauna carriage, a portrait gallery and a holding cell (of course), and three other passenger-residents plus or minus a few others.

It was an effortlessly engaging read, in a way that I had forgotten novels can be. With Oyeyemi, I think it’s always how she builds the balance and juxtaposition inherent in magical realism. There are fantastical situations and as equally fantastical characters, but in their interaction they are all the more real: half-grounded, half-positively buoyant. And in Peaces, it is the way stories are nested within stories within stories; they unfurl amongst anecdotes and dialogues and letters and then telescope back to the present. And it’s the way that everything is so carefully, deliberately connected. (In summary, unequivocal recommendations from me!)

apple butter gingerbread rolls

And, for fall, here are some buns. A lightly spiced gingerbread molasses bun, with the heft of the flavour carried by the tart apple butter filling and browned butter icing. As much as I like to avoid frostings, there really is something about a frosted bun – so the buns themselves are minimally sweetened to balance the frosting, which itself is surprisingly browned buttery.

apple butter gingerbread rolls

apple butter gingerbread rolls with browned butter icing

Icing vaguely based on Striped Spatula’s brown butter glaze.

gingerbread dough

  • 175g whole wheat flour
  • 50g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp star anise
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 120g milk at room temperature
  • 40g molasses
  • 32g egg
  • 50g soft butter

filling

  • 200g apple butter (recipe below)
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

browned butter icing

  • 40g butter
  • 55g icing sugar
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cream

For the dough, in a bowl, combine the flours, yeast, spices and salt. Add the milk, molasses and egg. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. Knead on a lightly floured counter until smooth, then knead in a chunk of the butter at a time until all the butter is incorporated.

Place the dough in a container and let rise in the fridge overnight.

For the filling, combine all the ingredients. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

The next day, butter an 8″ square pan and line with a parchment paper sling. Take the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured countertop until it is rectangle about 12×14″. Spread with the filling, aside from a strip of dough along one long edge where you will seal the roll. Brush this bare bit of dough with a bit of water to help the log seal.

Starting from the other long edge, roll up the dough into a log and pinch to seal. Use floss to cut into 9 pieces.

Arrange the pieces in the pan and cover. Let rise 1 1/2-2 hours or until puffed.

Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 375F.

Bake the risen buns for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

For the icing, place the butter in a small pan and cook, stirring, until the butter solids are browned. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar and then the cream. As the butter cools, the frosting will thicken.

Spread the frosting over the buns while they are still slightly warm. Best eaten day of!

apple butter

To make the apple butter, place a few of cups of unsweetened applesauce (recipe here) in a saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the applesauce thickens in a thick, jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cool. Store in the fridge.

blueberry brunsviger

blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger

Brunsviger, a Danish yeasted cake baked with a cinnamon-spiced brown sugar glaze, is what you get from crossing a sticky bun with coffee cake. Thanks to a focaccia-like dimpling, a freshly baked brunsviger is a study in texture: the topping crisps on the top of the bread, and leaves behind cavernous dimples laden with molten brown sugar – and burst blueberries, an addition I adore.

It is hefty with sugar and in this case I wouldn’t have it any other way.

blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger

When I first came across a recipe for brunsviger, I skimmed past it. In part because I am always overwhelmed with the array of different Scandinavian desserts and end up quickly flipping through every page, and in part because I thought I had this recipe pegged as a brown sugar topped yeasted cake. Which it is – but I had completely missed the point of the rugged topography of the cake and the textural contrast that ensues. As is a lot of Nordic recipes, the basic ingredients are the same: the flour and butter and sugar and eggs and maybe cinnamon or cardamom, but then how they’re put together is what makes each dessert such standouts.

This version is not quite a faithful brunsviger. I love adding fruit to dessert and thought that the dimples of brunsviger would be a fitting receptacle for small blueberries – and it is. They bake cradled in sugar and cinnamon until syrupy, a fittingly cozy tribute to the end of summer and entering fall (or anytime! I’ve done it with both fresh and frozen blueberries). I’ve also modified the dough to be partially whole grain and flecked with orange peel. It bakes up soft and fluffy regardless. Cut it into squares and be sure to have with coffee.

blueberry brunsviger

blueberry brunsviger

  • Servings: 8x8 inch cake which can be cut into 9 or 16 pieces
  • Print

Adapted from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Baking Book.

dough

  • 120g warm milk
  • 1 tsp (4g) instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 60g soft butter
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 100g whole grain spelt flour or whole wheat flour
  • 130g all-purpose flour

topping

  • 75g butter
  • 120g brown sugar
  • scant tbsp ground cinnamon
  • a couple pinches kosher salt
  • 100g fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw beforehand) 

Line an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square pan with a parchment paper sling and butter the remaining exposed sides. 

To make the dough, combine the warm milk, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a standmixer. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until a dough is formed. Knead with the dough hook for about 8-10 minutes or until a very soft, smooth and elastic dough is formed. 

Stretch and pat the dough out evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until about doubled in height, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400F.

Prepare the topping once the dough is risen. Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan and heat gently until the mixture is melted. 

Dampen your fingers to prevent them from sticking to the dough, the press evenly spaced deep dimples into the dough, rather like dimpling focaccia. Scatter the blueberries over top, mostly aiming for the dimples. Dampen your fingers once again, and then press the blueberries into the dimples to ensure that they are blueberry-filled dimples.

Finally, spoon the warm sugar mixture evenly overtop. 

Place in the oven and bake around 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F. 

Let cool a bit on a wire rack. Run a knife around the two edges without parchment paper and use the parchment paper sling to lift the bread from the tin. Slice into 9 or 16 squares and eat while still warm. If you have leftovers, be sure to warm them up before eating!

sugared walnut raspberry buns

sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns

Soft semi-whole wheat dough, walnut frangipane, raspberries, rolled in butter and sugar. Sometimes I wish I was just writing a menu because then all I’d have room for was that sentence. But this seems to be a blog so let’s forge onwards…

sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns

These buns first originated for a picnic a few years ago. At the time I was intent on baking the buns in cylindrical metal rings – inspired by Vanilla Bean Blog’s iconic cinnamon buns – so I cobbled together variously sized metal rings. The different diameters are hardly a recipe for consistency! That, and I found the rings all in all too finicky, so in the third try I backtracked to muffin tins – consistent and convenient.

I use frangipane (well, not quite – more accurately, nut cream) as a filling – it puffs and crisps where it leaks from the dough, and bakes up rich and nutty where it’s rolled snugly in the middle of the buns. For the best flavour I recommend toasting the walnuts ahead of time, then cooling them down very well and finely chopping them before grinding (warm nuts leak oil far more easily). Despite all the visible sugar, these buns aren’t too sweet.

If you’re making these buns ahead of time, leave the butter and sugar dip until the day you’re serving them – when packed into an airtight container, the sugar tends to moisten and the buns lose their frosty sugared appearance.

sugared walnut raspberry buns

sugared walnut raspberry buns

Bun dough adapted from, though over multiple renditions it no longer much resembles, basic sweet dough from The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson. Filling based on a standard frangipane ratio. 

dough

  • 100g whole-wheat flour
  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 150g warm milk
  • 40g egg
  • 70g soft butter

filling

  • 50g soft butter
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • scant 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 75g toasted and finely ground walnut
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg
  • 15g all-purpose flour
  • 130g raspberries

coating

  • melted butter
  • granulated sugar

To make the dough, in a bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the warm milk and the egg and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough is formed. Knead for a few minutes or until smooth. If the dough is sticky, you can use some additional flour. At this point the dough may be fairly stiff.

Knead a bit of the butter into the dough at a time. At the beginning it will feel like you’re only smearing the butter on the counter, but persist and eventually the butter will become incorporated. Knead in each addition of butter completely before the next. At the end you’ll have a very smooth and soft dough. Place in a bowl, cover and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled.

For the filling, cream the butter, sugar and salt together. Add the ground walnut and cardamom. Beat in the egg, and lastly mix in the flour.

Meanwhile, butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin. I did not have too many problems with sticking, but you can put a small square of parchment paper in the bottom of each cup to be safe.

Once the dough is risen, deflate it and turn it out onto a very lightly floured counter. Roll out the dough to around 13 1/2″ by 15″. I find it easiest to allow the dough to cling to counter by using little flour, roll it out to the desired size, and then cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic to rest for about 15-20 minutes. This way the dough relaxes and will not spring back much.

Spread the dough with the walnut mixture, leaving just one strip along a long side bare in order to seal the log. Scatter the raspberries evenly overtop. Beginning at a long end, roll up the dough into a log.

Use floss to cut the log into 12 pieces and place each into a muffin cup. Cover and let rise until puffed, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Once risen, place the buns in the oven and turn the temperature to 350F. Bake until browned, about 20-25 minutes. Once cooled enough to touch, remove the buns from the tin to finish cooling on a wire rack. You may need to use a knife around the edge and then slide it to free the bottom of the bun if any have stuck.

Once cooled completely, brush the buns with melted butter and roll in granulated sugar. If you’re not serving the buns until the next day, wait to butter and sugar them until then.

iced strawberry rhubarb buns

iced strawberry rhubarb jam buns
iced strawberry rhubarb jam buns
iced strawberry rhubarb jam buns

Right now our rhubarb has just started to emerge and crest overground (that, and it just snowed last weekend), so it will be a month or two before there’s enough for baking. Our rhubarb may be dragging its feet, but I’ve been seeing the rhubarb recipes flourishing elsewhere making me excited for rhubarb baking to begin! Hence in my desperation to participate in the more canonical spring rhubarb season, these are some buns are from last summer filled with strawberry rhubarb jam and a more mildly sweetened cream cheese icing over top.

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