making and mending

IMG_2173 IMG_2179 IMG_2184 IMG_2117 IMG_2167 IMG_2172 IMG_2189 IMG_2183 IMG_2187 IMG_2159:: baking sourdough bread, this makes me so happy

:: a recently finished custom order

:: mending a favorite sweater of Olive’s

:: almost finished on what might be my favourite knitting project ever!

:: friands – now that we have chooks I can be free and easy with my eggs

:: a sweet knit for a little friend who turned one


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butter love

I made croissants! For breakfast! This is the second time I have tried and they were so delicious. I used the recipe from this book and the interesting but rather long (three day!) process proved worth the effort. The amount of butter involved was somewhat alarming, however I think this gorgeous butter was key to their yumminess…

We ate ours with our last jar of raspberry jam. It always cheers me to open up a little bit of summer on a dreary winter’s day.

I had always categorised croissants as one of those things best left to the professionals, or needing specialist ingredients. This recipe didn’t require any strange ingredients, only a little baking experience and a lot of enthusiasm. Especially for butter.

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On the morning of Atticus’ fourth birthday, this little fellow was waiting for him. Atticus has told me many interesting things about James. That until that morning he was just a doll, but now he is real. That he is Scottish and he likes marmalade with yogurt and he is very handy with a hammer. I’m very much looking forward to the further adventures of Atticus and James.

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a good day

We needed to get out of the house yesterday. After the wild, wintry weather that had kept us inside all week, it felt right to ignore the housework and head out into the beautiful autumn day. So off we went to the farm. There were still lots of good puddles. We sat listening to the kookaburras and enjoying our little picnic of chai and biscuits. It was good day indeed.

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how I make hot cross buns

When I was growing up we always had hot cross buns on Good Friday and that is still when I make them every year.  I read once that the cross could also symbolise the four seasons or perhaps the lunar phases. I’m not sure if it’s true but I like that idea. This recipe makes quite spicy buns that have a lovely zesty flavour from the orange, without the big pieces of peel that so many people seem to dislike. You can make them more or less spicy to taste. I’ve given instructions for making the dough in a mixer because it is a bit sticky but it can also be made by hand.

I have been known to get up very early to have these ready in time for breakfast but I think it’s better if everyone else just sleeps in.

Hot Cross Buns

500g (4 cups) strong flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons caster sugar

4 teaspoons mixed spice

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

4 teaspoons fresh yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast)

1/2 cup thick, well-cooked porridge, cooled (see note)

1/2 cup orange puree (see note)

200 ml (3/4 cup) tepid milk or water, plus extra

50g (2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups dried fruit (I use sultanas and currants but you can really use anything you like)

cross mixture:

1 cup plain flour

1/8 cup vegetable oil

150ml (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) water

orange marmalade to glaze – optional

note: I just use leftover porridge from breakfast, but you can make this quantity by mixing 1/3 cup rolled oats with 2/3 cup water and cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the oats are soft and the porridge is thick. The orange puree is made by cutting up a washed and dried orange, removing the pips and pureeing in a blender or food processor until smooth. 1 small orange makes about 1/2 cup. If you make extra, you can freeze it for the next batch.

For dough, combine flour, salt, sugar and spices in mixer bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix yeast with a little of the milk/water and add to flour with porridge, orange puree, fresh ginger and remaining liquid. Mix together thoroughly on low speed and then gradually add the butter. The dough should be quite soft and sticky. If it feels to dry add some extra liquid. Knead on low speed for ten to fifteen minutes, until the dough is shiny and elastic.

Add dried fruit and mix through by hand. Make sure the fruit is evenly distributed through the dough. Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea-towel to prove until about doubled in size. This will take about 2 hours.

When dough has doubled in size, knock it back by gently pushing the air out with your knuckles. You will find it has become less sticky and more manageable. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and use a sharp knife to divide into 12-16 pieces (depending on how big you want your buns, I like mine on the smaller side). Line one or two trays with baking parchment. To shape a bun, take a piece of dough and flatten it slightly, then bring the outside edges in towards the middle, pushing out any air as you go. this will create an even, round shape.

Turn the bun over and with the dough in contact with the work surface, make a claw out of your hand and twist the bun a few times. Place in the baking tray and repeat with remaining dough pieces.

Cover again and allow to double in size. This will take slightly less time than the first proofing. While the buns rise, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and mix together cross ingredients until smooth, then set aside. When buns have doubled in size, place cross mixture in a piping bag (I use a snap-lock bag with a tiny bit cut off at one corner). Pipe on crosses in continuous lines.

Place buns in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Depending on your oven and how many trays you have, you may need to turn the trays around or swap them halfway through baking. When cooked, remove from oven and place on a metal cooling rack. Immediately brush with marmalade to glaze, if using, then allow to cool. These buns will keep well and are yummy toasted, but ours never seem to last long…

Happy baking!

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I was a little over enthusiastic casting on this vest I think. The gorgeousKate Davies tortoise and hare chart my lovely friend was knitting caught my eye and I just had to start knitting, but now I’m really not sure that I have enough yarn. It’s only a little vest really, for the littlest member of the family, so I’m just going to keep knitting and hoping!

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