SPRING!!! & Oh Yeah, Hot Crossed Buns

Clawing from the depths of a seemingly endless winter, spring has finally arrived.
Of course with about a foot of snow still remaining outside of my urban home and the prediction of 6 more weeks of crappy weather, it’s a little hard to believe. Thankfully with the double whammy of this beloved first day and an early Easter, I was compelled to fill my house with flowers and the scent of cinnamony Hot Crossed Buns.

I swear I don’t remember eating these since I was a kid – back when I pulled one flattened, from a lavender and yellow bag only to be thoroughly disappointed that the cross wasn’t pure icing. Hunks of candied fruit, maraschino cherries, raisins.
Mm, delicious.

With a certain need to perk up into spring, I set off to recreate my own version. I combined dried cranberries with my own candied orange peel, for something a little more to my tastes. I have to admit that the candied peel was a bit time consuming but fun none the less. I opted to do it the night before, but made enough for a bit extra, which was a good thing since my kids surprisingly mistook it for Easter candy and were caught gobsmacking the orange loot. For a two year old with an orange peel, that must say something. But my little Easter buns were golden and puffed and I couldn’t help but sweeten the paste for the crosses, just for old time sake. Served slightly toasted with some cold butter, I thought these would be perfect to celebrate the equinox and serve up with Sunday brunch.


1 1/2 Cups Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Vegetable or Safflower Oil
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Cup Warm Water
2 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour, plus more, if necessary, for kneading
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/4 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon Crystalized Ginger, crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
3/4 Cup Candied Orange Peel, chopped

Hot Cross Paste

3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons Water

Heat the soy milk and stir in the sugar to dissolve.
Add the salt and oil and cool to a lukewarm temperature.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let sit until it bubbles.
Measure out the flours and spices into the a large bowl or one of a stand mixer.
Stir the yeast and with the motor running, add it along with the warm milk to form a dough.
Add the cranberries and chopped peel.
Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, turning the dough out with the additional flour, if necessary to a board to completely work in the fruit.
Lightly grease a large, clean bowl and let the dough rest and rise until it has doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
After the rise, roll the dough into an 18 inch long tube, then cut it into 18 pieces.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and roll each piece into a ball and evenly place them in six rows of three.
Cover and let double in size again.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Mix up the paste mixture and lightly indent each bun with a knife with a cross, then pipe the paste over.
Bake until golden; about 10 – 15 minutes.
Glaze with reserved sugar syrup from candying the oranges or with heated, strained apricot jam.

Little Bit of Old Fashioned Loving

This cake is super easy, really the toughest thing was prepping the pan. It’s a perfect balance of tart and sweet, elegant for tea and a perfect crumb for a picnic. Almost too perfect, I found myself snacking on it instead of lunch.

Every so often I come across a recipe that reminds me of my grandmother, creating memories of yeast and warm mittens. My Nana just recently celebrated her birthday so to find a cake that screams East Coast charm barely out of the 1930’s was so fitting to try. Plus, it’s red, sweet and a little bit tart, just like Valentine’s really is.


1 1/2 Cups Cranberries, frozen
2/3 Cup Walnuts, broken
1/3 Cup Demara Sugar, loosely packed1/2 Cup Margarine
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Cup All Purpose Flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Spray an 8″ square cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberries, walnuts and demara sugar to combine.
Evenly layer the cranberry mixture to the bottom of the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine with the granulated sugar until very smooth.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a measuring cup, combine the milk with the lemon juice.
Alternately add the flour and the milk mixtures to the creamed margarine until the batter is thick but smooth, adding the lemon zest with the last addition.
Dollop the batter over the cranberries, spreading carefully and evenly.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the edges are golden and a cake tester is cleanly removed from the center of the cake.
Cool completely then invert on to a board to cut, if desired.
Dust with confectioners sugar.
Serve with love and tea.

Cranberry Shortbread

Getting into the last week before Christmas, the excitement builds and the rush heightens. I can’t help but get those butterflies like I had when I was a kid. A staple at our Christmas sweets table, this version of shortbread is certainly a family tradition just as Santa and snowflakes. Soft and tender, they simply melt in your mouth. Wonderful all alone, but for the Hoildays the addition of toffee or dried cranberries is an extra special treat.

I had originally made give aways of this cookie mix for the Holidays, just needing to add the margarine but the simple layer of sugared cranberries seemed lost in the sifted white ingredients, so I opted to just spare recipients the time of baking and bring them the finished products instead, minus the ones I had to test for doneness, of course.

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