Spiced fruit buns

These are a variation on the hot cross buns I made a few weeks ago.  For this recipe I use half strong plain and half strong wholewheat flour which makes for a good texture and I have upped the spice.  The glaze is egg wash and sugar brushed on five minutes before the end of cooking, making them lovely and crunchy.

You can use whichever combination of dried fruits you prefer.

250g strong plain flour
250g strong wholewheat flour
½ tsp ground cardamom (the seeds from about 8-10 pods)
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp salt
7g sachet easy bake yeast
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
50g caster sugar
125 ml milk
125 ml water
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g butter, softened
25g dried cranberries
25g dried cherries
50g raisins

For the glaze:
1 egg, beaten
about 6 tsp sugar


Put the flours, spices, salt, yeast, lemon zest, orange zest and sugar into a bowl.  Warm the milk and water and add to the mixture and stir to combine.  Add the egg and the butter and mix well.  Begin to knead, adding the fruit and kneading it into the mixture. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place into a buttered bowl, cover with clingfilm or a bin liner and leave to rise in a draught-free place until almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°c with a baking tray or stone inside to heat up.

Press the air out of the dough and cut into 8 pieces with a sharp knife.  Make each into a ball by stretching the dough under itself.  Place onto a well floured board and cover again with the clingfilm or preferably the bin liner as this will allow more room for rising and leave to prove until they have risen to almost double. Place the buns on the heated tray or stone and bake in the oven for about ten minutes, until beginning to brown. Take out of the oven, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.  Place back into the oven for a further 5 minutes.  Take out of the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool a little.  They are best split open and spread with butter whilst still warm.

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Chocolate buns or fairy cakes

Are these called buns or fairy cakes?  I have no idea so I opted for both. It was the Christmas Fayre at my eldest daughter’s school the other day and they asked for cake donations so these were ours. Show me a kid who doesn’t love milk chocolate and hundreds and thousands…

I liked these too.  I added milk chocolate chunks to the cake mix so there was a very satisfying bite to these little cakes. The ones I held back from donating (well you have to enjoy the rewards of baking!) were soon polished off by me and the girls.

I hope those who bought them at the Fayre enjoyed them as much as we did.

Make sure the eggs and the butter are at room temperature before you start as they will mix much easier and rise better.

Makes 18 cakes

110g caster sugar
110g softened butter
120g self-raising flour
20g good quality cocoa
2 eggs
30g milk chocolate, drops or chopped
splash of milk (if needed to make the mixture a soft consistency, if your egg is big you probably won’t need it)

18 paper cake cases and 2 patty tins (cupcake tins)

For the topping:
50g milk chocolate, melted
your choice of decoration

Put the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder and eggs into a bowl and using an electric mixer beat together until just combined. If the mixture is a little stiff add a splash of milk and stir to combine. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to mix in evenly.

Put the paper cases into the holes of the tin. Put a spoonful of the mixture into each paper case, you want to half fill the cases to give space for rising.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c (gas mark 4) for 15-20 mins until springy to a slight touch.

Leave to cool, then top each cake with a spoonful of melted chocolate and sprinkle your choice of decorations on top.

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