The History Behind the Humble Hot Cross Bun

Here's a chocolaty variation for all you chocoholics out there!

Hot cross buns come in all kinds of different varieties, here we have some shop bought chocolate ones, great for a light snack or a good breakfast.

The humble hot cross bun is something you either loathe or love, but believe it or not this little, spiced, bun is steeped in history and superstitious folklore.

Hot cross buns are usually eaten in historically Christian countries, where the cross is put on the buns as a symbol of the crucifixion. They are usually eaten during the period of Lent, beginning with the evening of Shrove Tuesday to midday on Good Friday.

English folklore states that if you share a hot cross bun with someone it is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, and so the following phrase was coined: “Half for you and half for me, between us two shall goodwill be.” Many Victorians believed in keeping hot cross buns for medicinal purposes as well, believing that it would help them fight illnesses they had.

Hot cross buns have become a baked hallmark of Easter and each year they are sold in and around the UK. So next time you dig into your toasted, buttery, bun just remember that you’re eating something that is steeped in history.

Why not have a go baking you’re very own hot cross buns.  Below is quick simple guide taken from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2066661/hot-cross-buns

Ingredients

For the buns

  • 300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tbsp more
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross

  • 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam

Method

  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (see Tip, below) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
  2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
  3. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
  4. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
  5. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses (see Tip below). Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
  6. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

By James Busby

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Healthy and delicious snacks: Apple & Cinnamon Muffins recipe.

Busy? Hungry? Fighting the temptation to have an unhealthy, quick fix?  Apple and Cinnamon muffins to the rescue.

These delicious little muffins contain only 140 calories and 8 grams of fat so yes, they are still a little bit naughty but not as naughty as that packet of crisps or that chocolate bar that you find yourself reaching for.

Quick and easy to make, Apple and Cinnamon Muffins can be enjoyed breakfast, dinner and tea and will be much more satisfying than the sat-fat-alicious treats you normally divulge in.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of apple sauce (odd, but makes the muffins moist)

There were several more ingredients but they are unnecessary to the recipe and a little more expensive. When you’re pinching your pocket until next pay day like me, it doesn’t help when you want a cheap healthy snack and have to fork out more to make your own than it would be to just simply buy them.

Follow these 4 easy steps to make your own:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C

2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and oil until smooth. Stir in applesauce and sugar. Combine both mixtures.

4. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.
Done! Thank me later when you notice your pants starting to fit better.
John Elsworth

Here’s what we thought of The Custom Cupcake Company, Liverpool

We have been on another baking adventure this week, and this time we dropped in to The Custom Cupcake Company for a spot of tea and cake and a quick chat with one of the owners, Matt Blakey. We’d like to thank 5crumbybakers fan Elly Groves who suggested we visit this super cute place by leaving a comment on a post we did about Dafna’s Cheese Cake Factory, a quaint bakery on Smithdown Road.

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Niamh (left) Owner Matt Blakey, Karen (right)

The Custom Cupcake Company is located in one of Liverpool’s most animated areas- Bold Street, A vibrant high street that’s constantly bustling with shoppers heading down towards Liverpool town centre. We agreed this lively cobbled street is the perfect location for a cupcake shop, and certainly a great place to stop off for a sweet treat when you’re on your way into town.

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The exterior of the cute Bold Street cupcake shop and one of Matt’s particularly special flavoured cupcake.

The interior of the bakery/café is fresh and simplistic. There’s a large bar on one side displaying the bakery’s delicious treats a few tables dotted here and there for those (like us) who can’t have a cupcake without a cup of tea to go with it! The counter that stretches all the way along the bakery wall is stacked with piles of heavenly looking cupcakes.  Having to choose a single cake can prove great difficulty (we were forced to purchase two each… just for market research of course!)

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The interior of the bakery and their delicious triple chocolate brownies on offer.

Matt and his wife Kelly opened the bakery last November. In their short time of running it, it sure has made its mark. They provide over 130 wildly unique flavours on rotation, and even have their own celebrity following which include; Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, Little Mix and Taylor Swift, who all chose the bakery on Bold Street for its imaginative creations.

ImageThe Custom Cupcake Company caters for any occasion, here’s some of spectacular ideas for Birthday celebrations.

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The Custom Cupcake Company’s Black forest cupcake

Owner Matt tells us the best-selling has to be the Mars cupcake, and we can see why! Its chocolate and caramel mixture gives it a rich and gooey texture, very much replicating a real life Mars bar. It would make a seriously great Easter-time treat for any chocoholics who’ve given “the good stuff” up for lent!

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Some special (and very unusual) treats the Custom Cupcake Company has to offer

When asking Matt about his weirdest creation, He told us about “cuptails,” a list of classic cocktails the CCC has recreated in cupcakes. One even includes an absinth shot but we won’t talk about that! “We also do a cupcake called pigs can fly” he said. It’s a sweet and meaty combination: a caramel flavoured cake, with a caramel filling and topping, all sprinkled with bits of bacon. We weren’t daring enough to try this flavour but why don’t you pop in and give The Custom Cupcake Company a go? We’d definitely recommend it!

Here’s our interview with Matt, the owner of The Custom Cupcake Company

Don’t forget to tell us what you think!

If there’s any other bakeries in Liverpool you think might be worth checking out, feel free to leave us a comment below!

Niamh Conway and Karen Coe

Which celebration bake looks the tastiest? LETS VOTE!

Celebration bakes are our very favourite treats as you may already know from some of our recent posts Choco-vanilla birthday cupcakes, Queen Victoria crowns and St David’s Day treats. These bakes don’t just make the kitchen smell divine, they put smiles on the faces of our best friends and mark that occasion that’s special to us all, one way or another.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts and recipes for celebration bakes just as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them, but now that you’ve seen what the 5 crumby bakers can do, we thought that this week we’d hand our website over to you, so everyone can see what our users and fellow baking enthusiasts have been up to.

So as promised, here are the lovely pictures of your very own celebration bakes that you’ve been emailing us. Whoever is voted the TASTIEST looking celebration bake by this time next week will hand their recipe over, into the (perhaps not so safe) hands of the 5 crumby bakers and we’ll see how our attempt compares to your original.

Wish us luck.

Get voting in our poll below!

1. Kathryn Swarbrick’s Disney princess castle

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2. Chloe O’Neill’s Triple chocolate fudge brownie cake

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3. Fionnula Conway’s Jubilee lemon sponge

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4. Laura Carroll’s Banoffee fudge layer cake

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5. Adam Paul’s Chocolate cake with chocolate cream

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6. Amy Elliot’s Giant chocolate and vanilla cupcake

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7. Alice Currie’s Christmassy spiced gingerbread men (Ok so we know they’re not really a celebration bake but they’re so cute!)

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8. Monica Carroll’s Easter treat chocolate cake

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9. Katie Robinson’s Kit-cat surprise

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10. Ben Smith’s White chocolate and toffee birthday bananza

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 11. Maureen Brown’s Easter chick

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By Niamh Conway

Vegan Banana Bread

Veganism and vegetarianism have always raised a curiosity within me and I always feel a bit of admiration for those who choose to discard meat and its counterparts. I have many friends who are either vegan or vegetarian and they have their own reasons for the change in their lifestyle, whether it’s regarding the ethical issues of the meat eating culture; the treatment of livestock; the process of how the meat is obtained or even health issues it causes.

So you’re probably thinking that it is quite hard to source and eat the usual delicious tasty, treats without any trace of meat or dairy? Well thankfully that is not the case. During the past decade veganism has become more of a prominent way of living in our culture, you only have to walk down the aisles of your local supermarket and you will instantly see many meat and dairy substitutes.

Some of the nicest meals and baked goods I have tried have been from either vegetarian or vegan recipes, and due to having close friends and family who are vegan I feel I understand a little better about this lifestyle choice and I greatly enjoy substituting meat for two or three of my meals a week, after all why not right?

So as I started to think of what I wanted to bake over the weekend I decided I wanted to prove to myself and to my vegan flat-mate that I could bake her something that would A) edible (probably the most important point) B) that it would be both simple and tasty.
So upon taking the challenge I decided to bake a vegan take on one of my favourites, banana bread.

This recipe was so easy and tasty that both my vegan flat mate and the rest of the motley crew enjoyed them greatly, they certainly didn’t last very long.
The really nice thing about this recipe is you can’t tell that it has been made without milk or butter; in fact I would say it tastes even better! So why don’t you give it a go yourself.

Here's what you will need.

Here’s what you will need.

Ingredients
225g Plain flour (or use Self-raising flour and reduce the Baking powder to 2 heaped tsp)
3 heaped tsp Baking powder
100g Brown sugar (or caster sugar)
3 tsp Cinnamon or Mixed spice (optional)
3 large Black bananas, mashed
75g Vegetable or Sunflower oil (weight)
50g Dried fruit or nuts (optional)

Method
1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Mash the peeled bananas with a fork. Mix well with oil and sugar.

This is the messy part!

This is the messy part!

3. Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and combine well.

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4. Add any additional ingredients.
5. Baked in a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin for 20 minutes, before checking. Cover with foil, if the loaf cake is browning. Bake for another 40 minutes (approximately).

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6. Allow to cool a little before slicing. It’s delicious freshly baked but even yummier when it goes gooey the next day!

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Recipe taken from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2277635/vegan-banana-bread

Don’t forget, you can like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter or email us at 5crumbybakers@gmail.com!

By James Busby

THE IMPOSSIBLE MADE POSSIBLE! How you too can make your Impossible Pie.

Last week, I went around Heysham Village absorbing the history and culture, but also enjoyed a slice of Impossible Pie at Tracey’s Cafe. (If you haven’t read my post already, here’s a quick reminder: Heysham Village: History, Scenery and a slice of Impossible Pie) The concept intrigued and excited me: why is this pie called the Impossible Pie when I was looking at it right there in front of me? Like an Egg Custard Tart with a coconut topping, I decided this pie was well worth trying out myself as I am partial to an Egg Custard Tart.

You will need:

2 cups of semi-skimmed milk

2 cups of plain flour

1 cup of caster sugar

2 cups of margarine

4 eggs

1 cup of coconut

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

10′ Pie Dish of Flan Dish

Impossible Pie ingredients

Impossible Pie ingredients. Yes I am aware there is only one egg here, I’d cracked the other three before taking this photograph.

1. Before you start anything, make sure that you have set your oven to preheat at 180°C.

2. Whisk your eggs in a large mixing bowl. It is advised to use an electric whisk but because I am a student I just put some elbow grease in and used a fork.

3. Add your milk and whisk again until it looks like you’ve made a really nice scrambled egg mix. Now, add your cup of sugar! It’s best adding your sugar after the eggs and milk as you can see it dissolving and will know when it is fully mixed in.

4. Sieve your flour into the mixture, mixing as you go along to ensure there aren’t any lumps. No one should have to eat a lumpy pie.

5. Now I tried buying a coconut from Tesco but a) They’re not in season and b) It just seems like an unnecessary bother preparing a coconut. As they also didn’t have any coconut shavings on the bakery isle, I had to buy chunks of fresh coconut from the fridge section which at £1, I didn’t think that was too bad and was just the amount I needed. As they are pretty big chunks, I found it best to dice them into smaller pieces like this:

Roughly dice your chunks of coconut to look something like this

6. Having diced your coconut, just throw it into the mix and give it a little stir.

7. I found it easier to melt my margarine before adding it to the mixture, a lot less hassle to mix. Finally, add your two teaspoons of vanilla extract and it’s all systems go. Gently pour your mixture into your dish and it’s ready to put into the oven for 1 hour. Don’t worry if you think the mixture is too runny, it’s supposed to be like that. It should look something like this:

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8. If you’re anything like me, you will look into the oven every five minutes or so just to make sure that it’s working. After an hour of doing this, your pie should be ready!

Fruit isn't just for decoration, it actually does get eaten

Fruit isn’t just for decoration, it actually does get eaten. But look at that pie! Perfect.

I tried a slice myself and can honestly say it tasted delicious. But obviously I’m going to say that because I made the thing. So I didn’t have a biased opinion, I tried it out on my flatmates and friend Kathryn to see if they too enjoyed eating the pie. And they did!

Kathryn eating my Impossible Pie

Kathryn eating my Impossible Pie

As the pie has quite an unusual texture, I would say it is best to eat it on it’s own. Although some strawberries can be quite refreshing as an after bite!

The pie is best on it's own but for extra decoration and a refreshing after bite, I served mine with Strawberries and Banana

The pie is best on it’s own but for extra decoration and a refreshing after bite, I served mine with Strawberries and Banana

Do you think you will try and make the impossible possible and try your hand at making the Impossible Pie? And if not, what other recipes do you find challenging that have a delicious outcome?

Leave your comments below.

And don’t forget, you can like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter or email us at 5crumbybakers@gmail.com! Look forward to hearing from you,

John Elsworth

Caramel Nibble Cookies

My baking skills were in demand today with my flat mates asking for something tasty. Cookies are quick and easy to make and you can pick up a basic chocolate chip recipe and be creative; substituting the chocolate for almost anything you fancy! Dairy Milk’s Caramel Nibbles being my major guilty pleasure, I thought I would use them in today’s recipe.

The recipe I used for my cookies was Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, which he uses in an episode of River Cottage. The full recipe can be found here: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe

I found the recipe really simple to follow as everything was explained in 4 easy steps. It only takes about 10 minutes to make the mixture, and less than that for them to bake.

What I used

What I used

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

75g soft light brown sugar

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla extract

150g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

100g dark or milk chocolate (or whatever filling you desire!), chopped into smallish chunks

To start pre-heat the oven to 190°C/gas 5, to allow the cookies an even bake as soon as you’re finished making the mixture.

Melt the butter, Hugh suggests doing it slowly on the hob but I just whizzed it in the microwave. While that’s being done put both sugars in a bowl and then add the melted butter. Grab a spoon and give it a quick mix.

It should look a bit like this

It should look a bit like this

Then add the egg and vanilla (I used vanilla paste instead of extract. I find the paste has a stronger flavour) again mix this in well. You should have a rather sloppy mixture at this stage.

Sift in the flour, baking powder (I substituted the baking powder for self-raising, which essentially does the same job) and salt and stir the mixture. You should see it gaining a doughier texture.

All you have left to do now is add your filling! Make sure it is chunked up and mixed in well; so that it will spread nicely throughout your dough.

Doughy mixture

Doughy mixture

Now it’s time to get your baking trays ready! Line them with greaseproof paper (or something equivalent) and then dot the mixture out evenly on the sheet. Be aware that if you make your cookies thick they will spread during the baking process. I certainly found that when making mine!

You’re now ready to bake, as I stated previously make sure you watch over them as it should only take about 8-10 minutes for them to go golden. It is not something you can really judge by touch, as they will still be soft when getting them out of the oven. You will need to leave them to cool before removing from the tray and in that time they will gain a biscuity structure.

Before bake- nicely spaced

Before bake: nicely spaced

After bake- rather merged

After bake: rather merged

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mine got rather golden rather quick, but they were not burnt! Within hours my flatmates and I managed to finish every crumb. Throughout the weekend I was forced to make another 3 batches, and with each attempt I saw my technique improve.  They made a great dunking companion for a hot drink (especially after a long stressful day). This is definitely a recipe I will return to time and time again.

My cookie mountain

My cookie mountain

Having a nice brew

Having a nice brew

Have you ever experimented with any interesting cookie fillings? let us know below or through Facebook  Twitter or email: 5crumbybakers@gmail.com

by Karen Coe