Hot Cross Buns

How is it the Easter holidays already? The kids have only just been back at school for a few moments! Well here we are and what is Easter without toasted sticky, spiced, fruity buns slathered in lots of butter? Here’s my plant based recipe. Sure it takes a while to make, but most of that time is just waiting for the dough to rise. These will keep you and the kids busy for a least one day over the Easter holidays anyway. Liz x

Ingredients (makes 12 buns)

  • 120g sultanas
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 300ml milk (I use oat milk)
  • 50g butter (I use a dairy free butter)
  • 500g strong white bread flour (plus about 60g extra for making the paste for the crosses)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 7g yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar mixed into a syrup with a little water (or maple syrup) for glazing

Method

Measure out the sultanas and spices into a small bowl. Add the zest and juice of the orange. If your orange is very large, just use half the juice. Mix well and allow the sultanas to soak up the orange juice and spices.

Measure the milk and butter into a small pan and gently heat it to melt the butter. Allow it to cool to a touchable temperature while you measure out the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients well then pour in the warm milk and butter and mix with your hand into a rough, sticky dough.

Tip the dough onto a clean work surface then knead well for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, stretchy ball of dough. Don’t be tempted to add more flour, just keep kneading until it all comes together. Then pop the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and allow it to rise and double in size. This should take about an hour in a warm place.

When the dough has doubled in size, stretch it out onto a clean work surface and spread over all of the juicy, spicy sultana mixture. Then roll it up and give the dough an extra knead to incorporate the ingredients. Put the dough back in the bowl to rise again for another hour or so in a warm spot.

Once the dough has doubled in size again, take it out and divide it in 12 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into neat balls and put them on a lined baking sheets. I space mine out onto two sheets because my oven doesn’t bake evenly so I like to give them room for the hot air to circulate. If your oven is good you can place them together on one large baking sheet, just leave a couple of cm between each one to allow them space to rise. Cover them with the tea towel and allow them to rise for about 45 minutes.

Once the buns have risen, mix about 60g of flour with just enough water to make a paste (aim for the texture of toothpaste). Then spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe crosses over the buns. You could do other designs too if you like? Signs of spring like eggs, flowers, bunnies or lambs… Then put the buns into a preheated oven at 200C (fan) for 15 to 20 minutes until the buns are golden brown.

*If the buns are looking a bit dry, spray them with a little water just before they go in the oven. Most of the rise will happen in the oven now so you don’t want them to form a crust before having a chance to rise and get fluffy inside.

When the buns are cooked, removed them from the oven and brush them with syrup while they are still hot. I simply mix a couple of tbsps of brown sugar with enough boiling water to make a syrup. You could use maple syrup or warmed, sieved apricot jam instead. Then allow them to cool before eating. They are fantastic still warm and fresh from the oven or if you are eating them the next day they are great toasted. Happy Easter!

4 Ways With…Carrots!

Carrots are such a staple you’d be forgiven if you’d never thought of them as the main event of a meal or barely even given carrots a second thought. But we love carrots over at Green Earth Organics and you’ll always find them in our subscription boxes. Covered in mud and fresh from the field here in Galway, I can honestly say these are the best carrots I’ve ever tasted. The scrubbed, plastic wrapped supermarket carrots just don’t compare. Muddy carrots seem to stay fresh longer and taste sweeter so if you get scrubbed ones, keep them in the fridge and use them in a week or so, the muddy ones are ok in a dark, cool kitchen cupboard or pantry for much longer.

Carrot & Mint Fritters, Carrot Orange & Sesame Salad, Carrot Chickpea & Apricot Tagine, Carrot Cake Porridge.

I’ve had quite a few requests for carrot recipes as that’s what most people seem to end up with as their next box is arriving – so here are four ways I cook carrots regularly. You can also click on my raw carrot cake recipe which uses a whopping 600g of carrot, my smoked carrot strips which are fabulous for breakfast with wobbly scrambled tofu or on a toasted bagel with cream cheese or my butterbean barleyotto topped with roasted carrots and carrot top pesto if you’d like further carroty inspiration. Please do share your favourite carrot recipes with us too – in the comments or over on our friendly facebook group. Liz x

Watch this ‘4 Ways With Carrots’ video (you can skip to the recipe you are looking for) or the recipes are below.

Carrot, Chickpea & Apricot Tagine

A warming Middle Eastern stew, simple to put together with punchy flavours from the chermoula paste.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Method

Dice the onion and sauté it over a medium-high heat in a large pot. While it is cooking make the chermoula paste.

Crush the cumin and coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar until roughly broken up. Add the peeled cloves of garlic and crush some more. Then add the chilli flakes and smoked paprika and stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Finely dice the preserved lemon and stir it into the spices. Instead of using a pestle and mortar you could use a small blender and pulse the ingredients together into a rough paste.

Add the chermoula paste to the onions and stir for a few minutes to toast the cumin and coriander seeds. Once they are very fragrant, drain the tins of chickpeas and add them to the pot.

Chop the carrots into chunky slices and add them to the pot along with the two tins of chopped tomatoes and the tsp of ground cinnamon. Half fill the tomato tins with water and swirl out any remaining tomatoey juices into the pot.

Slice up the apricots and add them to the stew, season it really well with salt and pepper then put the lid on and simmer for an hour or so until the carrots are cooked through and the stew is rich and flavoursome.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed and serve with cous cous or rice or breads or even on it’s own. It’s fantastic with some freshly chopped parsley or coriander mixed through right before serving too. I’ve topped mine in the photo above with some homemade z’atar which is simply an even mix of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and ground sumac.


Carrot Cake Porridge

Sweet spices, grated carrot, creamy oats…delicious topped with walnuts on a cold morning.

Ingredients (serves 1)

Method

Grate a carrot and put it in a small pot with the oat milk, oats, spices, raisins, oats and maple syrup.

Simmer and stir until hot and creamy, then serve topped with walnuts and a dusting of cinnamon. Add an extra drizzle of maple syrup if you like too!


Carrot & Mint Fritters with Yogurt, Leaves & Lemon

Fritters are a fantastic light lunch with salad leaves and a simple dip. Or have them as a sandwich filler? Very versatile, use whatever herbs, spices and veg you fancy. This combination is especially delicious though. Tastes like Spring is around the corner!

Ingredients (makes 4 fritters)

Method

Whisk the gram flour and water together into a smooth batter, then season it well with a big pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir in the grated carrot and chopped mint and then fry well spaced dollops of the mixture in a pre-heated to medium-high, well oiled frying pan. Fry on both sides for about 3-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy and cooked through.

Serve hot with a couple of spoons of natural yogurt with a little lemon zested over it (lemon and mint work so well together), a few salad leaves and a wedge of fresh lemon to squeeze over the leaves and the fritters.


Carrot, Blood Orange & Sesame Salad

Toasty, salty, sweet, fresh and tangy – just the perfect combinations. This simple salad takes very little time to put together but has all the big time flavours!

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

Method

Arrange some salad leaves in bowls. Top the leaves with grated carrot.

Mix the toasted sesame oil and soy sauce together with a tsp or so of finely grated blood orange zest. Pour this dressing over the grated carrot.

Peel the blood orange with a small, sharp knife by slicing off the top and bottom then carefully slicing away the skin and white pith.

Chop the blood orange into little chunks and scatter them over the grated carrot.

Top with toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!