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    Entries in Easter (4)


    Beetroot Orange Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

                           beetroot orange chocolate chip hot cross buns

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    Make me smile they do (say I sounding a bit too much like Yoda), I love a chenille chick almost as much as I love a warm hot cross bun on Good Friday. 

    This years hot cross bun flavour is beetroot (beet) with a touch of orange and lots of chocolate chips!! Served warm with a scoop of chocolate ice-cream and you have a delicious fun Easter dessert. 

    I've been trying to preserve the colour in beetroot baking for years, here is a failed example from 2010 where brightly coloured cookie dough is piped, ending up with non descript brown. 

    Beetroot fresh or dried in baking is highly susceptible to rising ph levels caused by baking powder or heat, ph level over 7 and you will get a beige to brown result. I had previously got a slight colour with yeast baking but not pink/beet reddish shade I was after. 

    I remembered that the Vitamin C used in high school as a bread improver also preserved colour so I gave it a whirl and "success" I got pink buns!

    I used *dried beetroot powder for the flavour and colour and *ascorbic acid powder for the vitamin C element. 

    The resulting beet flavour isn't "beetroot-y", but rather it tastes more like berry and pairs beautifully with chocolate. 

    Beetroot Orange Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns (makes 14 buns)


    for the bun dough

    350ml full fat milk

    50g  butter 

    1 lightly beaten room temperature egg

    470g white bread flour

    30g  dried beetroot powder

    75g caster sugar (superfine)

    7g sachet of instant yeast

    1/2 tsp Ascorbic Acid

    1tsp salt

    zest of one orange

    150g choc chips

    for the cross

    75g plain flour (all purpose)

    for the sugar glaze 

    1/3 cup water

    2 tablespoons of sugar


    In a small saucepan bring the milk to the boil, remove from heat and add the butter. Leave until just warm.

    Put the bread flour, beetroot powder, caster sugar, yeast, ascorbic acid and orange zest in a bowl. Whisk to combine, add salt and whisk again. 

    Transfer bowl to you mixer with dough hook attached. 

    Pour in you warm milk mixture, then add beaten egg. Mix on on low (setting 2 on KitchenAid) for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.

    Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Pop the dough in a warm place for an hour to rise until it's doubled in size.

    Take your dough out of bowl and lay in on a non stick mat, roll or pat out to form a rectangle.

    Sprinkle half the choc chips over one half of the dough, fold the other half of dough over to cover choc chips and roll again. 

    Repeat with remaining choc chips. 

    Form the dough into a ball or roll and put it back in your oiled bowl to rise another hour in a warm place. 

    Have a baking tray ready lined with non stick paper. 

    Working with a few pieces at a time break pieces of dough the off, keeping the rest covered. I weighed my pieces to be 75 grams each. 

    Squash each piece into a round with the palm of your hand, fold the edges to the centre, flip over and smooth into a ball. 

    Repeat until you have buns evenly spaced on your tray, cover tray loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rise for the final time for one hour. 

    Preheat oven to 220C (210 fan).

    Make your cross mixture by placing flour in small bowl and adding enough water to form a pipeable paste. Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a round writing tip or fill ziplock bag and snip one of the bottom corners.

    Once the final rise is done, pipe a cross on each bun. 

    Bake in preheated oven for 20 mins on the middle shelf. As you won't be able to see if they are golden due to pink colouring, I have allowed for tester buns and you will still end up with a complete dozen...a bakers "snack" we could say. 

    For the glaze, stir the sugar and water together heat stirring until it starts to simmer, simmer a couple of minutes and then remove from heat. 

    Brush the hot glaze over the buns. 

    Buns are best served warm on the day. 

    I served mine filled with scoops of chocolate ice-cream but do try toasted with a smear of chocolate hazelnut spread too. 

    *Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) from chef supply stores, health food stores and pharmacies. 

    *Beetroot powder is available from chef supply stores and selected supermarkets. In Australia I use Melbourne Food Depot or Herbie's brands. 

    Other uses for beetroot powder: apart from changing up a plain hummus or tzatziki you can...

    add it straight to white chocolate... I love this for the berry/tingly flavour it brings, balancing the sweetness of the white. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sifted beetroot powder for every 100g (3.5oz) of tempered white chocolate, mould, make bark/shards as per usual. 

    Use as a natural colourant for you icing and frosting. 

    Or love a bit of drama? Try adding beetroot powder to your mayo. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Candied Beetroot Slices 

    Or prefer and bunny shaped egg


    Only a Time Lord knows what season it is cupcake

    'Only a Time Lord knows what season it is' Doctor Who cupcake

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    You haven't even got time to put away your Christmas hat and it's time for Easter, well that's according to Australias major retailers. Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs have been on sale since January 5th. Easter Sunday is April 5th, Easter now runs a quarter of the year???

    Waiting in the queue at the supermarket... on the right of me a clearance rack of candy canes, on the left of me freshly baked hot cross buns, not forgetting the racks of foil wrapped chocolate easter eggs and the gaudy (or romantic... but it's the supermarket queue and romance isn't in the air) Valentines day cards.  

    But I did love Peter Capaldi in his first season as the Doctor in BBC's Doctor Who. So today we have a Time Lord figure. He started when I was practicing figure modelling and ended up being a center display cupcake for a Doctor Who cookie platter. 

    "Practice" it's boring I know, but it's how you get better. 

    I started with a print out of Peter Capaldi photos as the Doctor.

    Here is an earlier model of Peter Capaldi when I was toying with the idea of full caricature. The day was warm and he was still very soft and his hair is not attached as I was checking height.  I chickened out on the over blown features and went for a partial caricature... even then he had an eye removed and replaced after it looked, umm well I think the technical term would be "squiffy":) 

    You have to be fast!!! When working with fondant you have to be fast, drying time is in minutes for modelling. I used a 3 parts fondant to one part modelling chocolate to give me another 5 to 10 minutes to finish face. 

    Green: the green fondant here shows you the basic "eggish" shape most heads start with. I get ready with all the other pieces, such a nose, ears, eyebrows etc. You will have a series of wedges, beans, ovals and snake shapes. Then you start putting together and sculpting your head. I apply pieces with a small damp brush then use modelling tools and fingers to shape. You can give yourself a few more minutes by keeping pieces covered in glad wrap.

    If you don't use modelling chocolate mixed with fondant you might find yourself with the dreaded "elephant skin" as the fondant icing dries. 

    I use Bakels white fondant almost exclusively, colour with gel paste. CMC powder was mixed in the black and red fondant to firm.  

    Have fun, happy baking and do give modelling a figure a try :) 

    Proving I'm a bit of a sucker for a huge topper ... make  Eric the Valentine Emu

    or try a 'Love Caramel Cupcake' 


    Octopus's Garden Cupcake

                                      I'd ask my friends to come and see 
                                        In an octopus's garden with me 

    "I wrote Octopus's Garden in Sardinia. Peter Sellers had lent us his yacht and we went out for the day... I stayed out on deck with [the captain] and we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans and bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. A couple of tokes later with the guitar - and we had Octopus's Garden!"

    Ringo Starr

    Packing Easter Egg gifts on the weekend with the mini eggs glistening in the light I was thinking how everyone is attracted to glistening sparkly things; for a woman it might be that 5.00 carat diamond ring, men of a certain age the shiny red sports car, the whole family loves Christmas lights, the kids love glistening easter eggs, and even an octopus building his garden.

    The cake; fondant topped chocolate mud cupcake with fondant/CMC octopus. Eggs; Lindt Lindor mini egg & Cadbury Dream mini egg

    Octopus's Garden available on;

     also on 'Anthology 3', and 'Love'

    P.S. my shiny glistening thing... my KitchenAid mixer of course!! HAPPY EASTER!!

    You might also be interested in... ummm CHOCOLATE!!



    Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

    Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

    Yes, I know it's kitsch but I'm a sucker for those little fluffy chickens!! Each year for Easter we bake at least one batch of hot cross buns, I like mixed fruit with citrus peel, Mark likes fruit and no peel & Dan likes chocolate hot cross buns. I went with Daniel's choice, I didn't have enough chocolate chips so I chopped dark eating chocolate to make up the amount. "Whew" lucky Daniel isn't here today he doubles the amount the chocolate!!

    I got a subscription to the Australian Women's Weekly magazine as part of resigning with our internet provider, I've been pleasantly surprised by the recipe content. This month the magazine contains, Easter Cupcakes, Hot Cross Buns, a French menu from Shannon Bennett (I LOVE Shannon Bennett!), plus slow cooking recipes, a low fat laska & reader recipes.

    Today's Chocolate hot cross bun recipe from...

    Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

    Australian Women's Weekly, March 2010


    4 teaspoons (14g) dry yeast

    1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar (superfine)

    1 cup (250ml) warm milk

    4 cups (600g) plain flour

    1 teaspoon mixed spice

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    80g butter, chopped

    1 1/2 cups of choc chips or chopped chocolate

    1 egg, lightly beaten

    1/3 cup (80ml) of warm water (approximately) 

    Flour paste for crosses

    1/4 cup (35g) of plain flour

    1 tablespoon cocoa powder

    2 teaspoons of caster sugar

    2 tablespoons cold water (approximately) 


    I tablespoon of caster sugar

    1 teaspoon powdered *gelatine

    1 tablespoon of water


    Combine the yeast with one tablespoon of the sugar and all of the milk in a small bowl; whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Cover bowl and stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the yeast mixture is  frothy. 

    Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large bowl; rub in the butter. Stir in the remaining sugar, chocolate, yeast mixture, egg and enough water to make a soft dough. Cover your dough with oiled plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for about one hour or until mixture has doubled in size.

    Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes (you can use your stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes if you prefer) until the dough is smooth and elastic.

    Divide the dough into 20 portions and roll each portion into a ball. Place the balls, almost touching, on a large greased oven tray. Stand in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 220c (425 F) or 200c (395F) if your using a fan forced oven.

    Method Flour Paste Crosses

    Sift flour, cocoa & sugar into a small bowl; gradually stir in enough water to make a smooth thick paste. Place the flour paste into a piping bag with a small tube or put in a zip lock bag and snip off the corner. Pipe crosses.


    Bake buns for about 15 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped.

    Method Glaze

    Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over low heat, without boiling, until the sugar and gelatine dissolves. Transfer the baked buns to a wire rack, brush the tops with glaze. 

    Eat warm & enjoy!!

    Tips and variations

    *Cooled buns are suitable to freeze. Wrap well and store in freezer for up to three weeks.

    *For a vegetarian version, replace glaze with warm sieved apricot jam, use a pastry brush to brush over the tops of buns.

    *You can if you prefer make the buns the day before up to the shaping balls stage, cover the balls on the tray with oiled plastic wrap, refrigerate and the next morning bring to room temperature, pipe on the crosses, bake & glaze.

    *Omit cross paste and pipe on melted chocolate crosses if preferred.

    Australian Women's Weekly magazine available from Supermarkets, News-agencies, Borders and subscriptions on line from Magshop

    Thank you Cindy for the fluffy chickens :)