Home made raisin toast and Easter hangovers

Anyone else feeling the effects of Easter still? I know I am! All of that chocolate and merriment! Easter at my house is jam packed with so many people, so much food, and lots of laughs with the kiddy Easter egg hunt that Easter Monday has a hard act to follow. To counter the blues that set in when you realise that Easter is over, and you no longer have an excuse to eat your body weight in chocolate, I recommend straight up denial.

Denial in the form of chocolate spiked raisin bread!

Hot cross bun bread (13 of 18)

It’s basically a giant hot cross bun that you can eat warm out of the oven, cold with a smattering of jam, or piping hot, straight from the toaster and smothered in butter.

Not only is this bread the perfect way to relive Easter at any time of the year, it’s also a great way to use up the Easter eggs that you may have hanging around the house. I don’t know about you, but after Sunday I seem to have about three tonnes of them in various bowls around the house!

How was your Easter? Do you have a tradition of Easter egg hunting like my family does?

 

Home made raisin toast / hot cross bun bread

  • 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 3 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g milk chocolate easter eggs
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1 tbsp milk

Vanilla bean butter

  • 160g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Pour your warm water and yeast into a cup and set to one side for the yeast to do it’s thing for ten minutes.

While the yeast is set aside, sift your sugar into a bowl. Mix in the white sugar, followed by the allspice and cinnamon.

Hot cross bun bread (1 of 18)

Make a well in the centre and mix in your yeast. Pour in your water, about ¼ cup at a time until you’ve used it all and have a cohesive ball of dough.

Hot cross bun bread (2 of 18)

If you’re using a stand mixer, mix on a medium speed for 3-4 minutes. If you’re hand-kneading, do it for about 10 minutes.

Lightly oil your bowl and set the dough back in it, cover the bowl in cling wrap and set to in a warm spot to rise for one hour. For those of you who don’t know, sausage dogs prosper in the heat just as much as rising bread does. Try to keep sausages and dough separate.

Hot cross bun bread (3 of 18)

When your dough has more than doubled in size, lightly flour a surface and scoop your dough out onto it. Put half of your chocolate and sultanas into the middle of the dough and fold the dough in on itself a few times. Put the rest of the chocolate and sultanas in the dough and knead until the chocolate and sultanas are evenly distributed throughout.

Hot cross bun bread (4 of 18)

Pop into your bread tin and set in a warm place to rise again for 15 minutes.

Hot cross bun bread (7 of 18)

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Brush your bread with the milk, then pop your bread in the oven for 10 minutes.

Hot cross bun bread (8 of 18)

Reduce the temperature to 170°C and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven when the top of the loaf is nicely browned and it makes a hollow sound when you knock the top of it.

Hot cross bun bread (9 of 18)

 

This bread is great served with regular butter, but I recommend whipping up some vanilla bean butter for an extra tasty slice. Allow your butter to come to room temperature and quickly mix in the sugar and vanilla. I use regular, salted butter as it adds a nice little edge to the otherwise sweet spread. Enjoy fresh from the oven, cooled, or toasted – whichever way you serve it, this bread is scrumptious!

Hot cross bun bread (18 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (5 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (16 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (12 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (15 of 18)

Planning on making this recipe? Tag me on Instagram and use #bakingwithgab so I can see your wonderful creations!

Choc hazelnut bundt and Easter left overs

aboveI don’t know what your household is like, but we’ve still got leftover chocolate eggs at our house. My whole family goes a bit overboard – each sibling is in charge of contributing some Easter eggs to go on the table, to be enjoyed by all… And each year, we have far too many eggs!

I’m not complaining (although my comfy pants probably are, they’re getting way too much use lately!), I just need to come up with some crafty solutions to the “problem.”

Pesto mushrooms and rainy days

birdieThe rain in Sydney at the moment is ridiculous. It’s perseverant, constant, irritating. Patches of blue sky are hard to come by and you can’t help but be a little more sedentary than usual.

Yesterday, out of the blue came a little visitor. He was wet and most perturbed by the rain and sought shelter on our balcony. He was a shock of colour in great contrast to the dreary, rainy weather and had such character that it made me smile. Mother darling and I cooed and found some grain bread for him to munch on, so he stuck around for an hour before flying off.

nom

Lo and behold, today he has returned! I hope this little Rosella continues to visit during this rainy weather, it does you good to be reminded of the brighter things in life when the weather seems hell-bent on making you mopey. Obviously the promise of good food has brought him back (what a clever little birdie), which is quite human of him!

In honour of the little birdie friend, here is a simple but stunning dish. There’s lots of colour, lashings of flavour and a great deal of character. Chase away those rainy blues with some pesto-stuffed mushrooms.

Pesto stuffed mushroomsclose cooked

  • 180g sourdough bread
  • 6 large mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup basil pesto
  • Sprig of basil (optional)
  • 250g cherry truss tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C and spray a large baking tray with oil.

tomatoesCut your truss tomatoes into three or four sections, place on the tray and spray with some oil. Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes while you start on the mushrooms.

mushrooms

Give your mushrooms a quick wash to remove excess dirt and remove their stalks. Set them aside to make the pesto filling.

Cut the crusts off your sourdough and discard them. Chop the crust-less pieces into thirds and blitz them in a food processor for about four minutes (or until they resemble bread crumbs.) Season breadcrumbs with salt and pepper, then add in thepesto and mix to combine. If you’re using jarred pesto (like I did), try to get good quality, as this is one of the main flavours! Throw in some chopped basil and give it one final mix before putting it into your mushrooms.

stuffed mushroomsYour mushrooms should be mostly dry now – stuff a generous amount of pesto filling into the mushroom’s hollow and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them in the tray amongst the tomatoes and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar. To serve, top the mushrooms with parmesan shavings or pine nuts and top the tomatoes with the excess liquid left in the pan.cooked

As well as using up leftover bread from Saturday morning, these mushies are vegan as well…as long as you don’t serve them with parmesan shavings like I did!

Orange and Kidney Bean Salad

At the moment I am completely obsessed with kidney beans. It really wasn’t until this year that I saw their beauty – they’re delightful additions to an amazing range of foods, and they’re good for you!

They can pad out taco meat, make up your pattie or be eaten by themselves. Kidney beans are cannily adaptable, but often overlooked. As the blog progresses I’ll try and showcase some more bean-driven recipes. There are other types of bean, I’m not just restricting this to kidney beans – get excited!!

In last night’s post there was a salad accompanying the lasagne – this salad is easy to throw together and looks amazing!

Orange and kidney bean saladIMG_4213

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 oranges
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • ½ red onion
  • 120g feta
  • 420g can red kidney beans

Combine oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. I like my dressing tangy, so I put a generous 3 tablespoons in – you may wish to put in two tablespoons and test it before adding the third.

IMG_4228

Carefully slice off the rind of your orange, then slice the orange thinly.* Finely slice the red onion, cube the feta and rinse the beans.

Place all ingredients on a plate and toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing and serve!salad

rind

* The rind from the orange is really pretty, but it’s also useful! If you’ve got time, cut some of it up really finely to make into orange icing (recipe soon!), add coarse sugar to it and make a facial scrub or soak it in vinegar to make a natural cleaning product.

Almost-Vegetarian Lasagne and savoury ventures

Tonight is Baking With Gab’s first ever savoury dish! While I find sweet things much easier to make photograph, I can’t continue to bake only sweet things. I come from a family of five and we have an open door policy – which means we often have seven or more for dinner. So really, I should help out with dinner instead of just cooking cupcakes all the time.

But where’s the fun in that??

I will try to post a few savoury dishes in amongst my sweet-tooth-driven adventures – I’ll start with a deliciously simple eggplant lasagne.

It’s almost-vegetarian because I had intended to use no meat in this recipe. Intentions are all very well, but in a male-dominated household, non-meat-intentions don’t win you any friends. I compromised and put leftover bolognaise mince in. This can be substituted for tomato sauce and it will be wholly vegetarian!

Almost-vegetarian lasagneplate

  • 2 eggplant
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups dried breadcrumbs
  • Leftover bolognaise mince (I had about six cups worth)
  • 6-8 lasagne sheets
  • 1/2 cup grated tasty cheese

Béchamel sauce

  • 80g butter
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup grated tasty cheese

slicesSlice your eggplant as thinly as you can. My dexterity with a knife meant that my eggplant slices ranged from 2-5mm. It honestly doesn’t matter how uniform they are.
flouring

Get out three plates and a bowl. Put the flour on one plate, breadcrumbs on another and crack the eggs into a bowl, then whisk them. Organise your bowls so that the flour is followed by the egg, then the breadcrumbs, then the empty plate. This is your crumbing station.

I have great memories of my brothers, mum and I crumbing chicken for schnitzel. It takes a bit of extra time, but it’s actually really fun. You have to be prepared to get messy – if you can rope others into helping you it’s good entertainment! Coat your eggplant slice in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and place them on the empty plate. If you’re doing this alone, try to flour all your eggplant in one go, then do the egg and crumbs once they’re all floured. This saves slightly on the mess.

floured eggplantmessy fingers

Only slightly though! I ended up with very crumby fingers, despite my best attempts to stay clean…

Pour about 1cm of oil into a pan over a medium heat and allow it to warm up briefly before you put the eggplant in. Toss in as many of your eggplants will fit and shallow fry them for two minutes on both sides. You’ll have to do this in about five batches. Remove them when they’re golden and transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.

Meanwhile, make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for two minutes until the mixture is smooth. Add your milk, one cup at a time and your cheese. Keep mixing as it bubbles away for about five minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat just when it starts to bubble. Leave to one side.layer 1pasta sheets

Preheat the oven to 220°C and grease a lasagne dish. Mine is 30cm x 22cm x 4cm and this recipe fits perfectly in it. Line the base of the dish with half of the eggplant slices, overlapping slightly and top with half of the lasagne sheets. Spoon over half of your leftover bolognaise mince, then repeat once more. Top with béchamel sauce and a sprinkling of cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, then serve to the hungry masses. This recipe will easily serve 12.
lasagne