Hot buns

DIY EASTER BAK­ING

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Find all the Easter bak­ing recipes you need at de­li­cious.com.au

It’s hard to think of a cosier ac­tiv­ity than bak­ing at home over Easter. Sure, you could buy a cake but a DIY ver­sion has so much more res­o­nance. “It’s an ex­pres­sion of nur­tur­ing and love,” says Na­dine In­gram of Flour and Stone in Sydney. “Bak­ing cre­ates wel­com­ing aro­mas and puts peo­ple in a re­laxed state of mind.” It’s also a boon for any­one with chil­dren – a fun, tac­tile ac­tiv­ity. “You are ef­fec­tively sow­ing their child­hood mem­o­ries,” she adds.

Au­tumn is the ideal time for am­a­teur and even first-time bak­ers to roll up their sleeves. From hot cross buns to sweet loaves, brioche to bis­cuits, there’s an Easter recipe to suit ev­ery skill set and ev­ery set of taste­buds.

We asked some lead­ing bak­ers for their tips on fir­ing up the oven.

DON’T GET CROSS ABOUT BUNS

Jo­ce­lyn Han­cock, owner of Cake & Bake in Bris­bane, be­lieves the se­cret to perfect hot cross buns is a sear­ing oven.

“Don’t turn the oven on just be­fore you put them in – it needs to be at 250°C for at least 20 min­utes,” she says. Then, drop the tem­per­a­ture to 180°C so the buns still “jump” or rise. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to pull them apart once done and al­low them to cool on a wire tray. Han­cock also in­fuses her glaze with car­damom, cin­na­mon and or­ganic peel.

EN­LIST THE LIT­TLE ONES

“Bak­ing is a won­der­ful way to bond with your kids,” says Kirsten Tib­balls, who runs the Savour Cho­co­late & Patis­serie School in Mel­bourne. “My 10-year-old son loves mak­ing hot cross buns with me and we also make cho­co­late Easter eggs to­gether.”

Tib­balls ad­vises let­ting go of any in­hi­bi­tions about cre­at­ing chaos and al­low kids to tap into their in­ner Jamie Oliver. “That’s when you get the most plea­sure and en­joy­ment out of it,” she says. “Kids love knead­ing and rolling dough and cut­ting out lit­tle bis­cuits by hand, and gen­er­ally that means mak­ing a mess.”

DAN­GLE A CAR­ROT CAKE

For time-poor bak­ers, Lon­don-based Aus­tralian vir­tu­oso Dan Lepard ad­vises re­cruit­ing the kids as a kitchen hack. “Get­ting chil­dren to help with a car­rot cake is good be­cause there are so many dif­fer­ent ele­ments,” he says.

“Let the chil­dren grate car­rots, en­sur­ing they’re not grat­ing fingers, and al­low them to mea­sure sul­tanas and nuts since they don’t need to be ex­act. They can also but­ter the tin and mix the cream cheese un­til it’s soft.”

BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO CLAS­SICS

In­gram sug­gests tweak­ing dishes to give them your own spin. “So long as you main­tain the ba­sic ra­tios of a recipe, you can mix ev­ery­thing else up,” she says.

She rec­om­mends re­plac­ing flour with ground nuts, turn­ing a car­rot cake into a parsnip and pear cake, adding raisins in­stead of cho­co­late chips or re­plac­ing milk with co­conut yo­ghurt.

“Or use your favourite An­zac bis­cuit recipe but stir chopped crys­tallised gin­ger through it,” says Lepard.

LOOK TO THE BOUNTY OF FRUIT

“Ap­ples and pears, which you can buy cheaply, lend them­selves to home bak­ing well,” says Lepard. “Think about baked cheese­cakes, rich fruit­cakes and any­thing cho­co­late.”

Speak­ing of which, Lepard likes to com­bine milk and dark cho­co­late for a child-friendly treat with adult ap­peal.

GO GLOBAL FOR IN­SPI­RA­TION

To wow your guests, con­sider how other cul­tures com­mem­o­rate the end of Lent. In­gram loves Italy’s schi­ac­ciata di Pasqua, a fluffy sweet bread made on Good Fri­day, and a round brioche called pogne which is tra­di­tion­ally baked in France. Eastern Euro­peans favour an eggy bread that is en­riched with dried fruit.

The Rus­sian kulich, a sug­ary yeasted bread, has the added drama of XB ini­tials, which stand for “Christ is risen”. “Main­tain the in­tegrity of how that bread would be made,” says In­gram.

MAX­IMISE MINI CON­FEC­TIONS

When re­view­ing how to present your mas­ter­pieces, Lepard sug­gests go­ing mini. “That doesn’t mean you eat less but you feel like you are, and they’re quicker to bake,” he says.

Make hot cross buns half the size, or bake sim­nel cake, a light fruit cake, in cup­cake cases, topped with a thin disc of marzi­pan while they’re still hot so that it melts on top.

METHOD TO YOUR MADNESS

Prepa­ra­tion is key. “Once you have de­cided what you want to make, read through the recipe twice, tak­ing into ac­count ev­ery de­tail right down to the bak­ing pa­per you need to line the tin,” ad­vises In­gram.

SWEET THER­APY CAN BE YOURS

“Bak­ing is an in­cred­i­bly ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­ity and you get such plea­sure from mak­ing some­thing then shar­ing it with friends and fam­ily,” says Han­cock.

“It doesn’t have to be a work of art,” she adds. “And even if you for­get the bak­ing pow­der it will still be de­li­cious – just a lit­tle flat­ter.” Homemade de­lights are also free of the sta­bilis­ers and preser­va­tives some com­mer­cial bak­ers use for longevity. These treats are des­tined to be pol­ished off. Keen to get started?

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