Spiced Easter Buns (Hot-Cross Buns) Made In A Breadmaker

Ingredients:

Water 240ml
Butter (melted) 50g
Sugar 50g
Egg (beaten) 1
Salt 1 tsp
Strong white bread flour 540g
Fast Action Yeast 2tsp
Ground Sweet Cinnamon 1 tsp
Nutmeg 1/4 tsp
Mix dried cherries and raisins 150g

I make these using my breadmaker to do the heavy lifting of mixing and rising the dough. You could use an ordinary mixer or make the dough by hand. The dough needs a first rise of about an hour (preferably somewhere warm), and then a second rise of about half-an-hour. Full details in the video below.

You can either make a cross in the top of the buns with a serrated blade before you glaze them or make crosses with a simple mix of icing sugar and water applied using a piping bag once they’re cooked.

 

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TWTW # 6 – Home Baked

I’ve mostly been working from home this week, with some interludes for baking, and a few other things.

It’s also been a week where it would appear that Spring has tentatively arrived. The weather has been unseasonably warm, but it may not last. It’s still a bit early to get properly started on the allotment, so for now nothing much is happening there.

We had feedback on the last lot of tests that the vet did for Wilson, and it would seem that everything is normal. This is obviously good news, but doesn’t answer the questions about what might have been wrong in the first. For now we’re going to monitor he and see if there are any changes over the next couple of weeks.

 


I love a good domino toppling!


I’ve been reading Henning Mankell’s “After The Fire”, the last book he wrote before he passed away. I’m only a few chapters in, and I’m not quite sure what is actually going on but it is very good. I’ve always enjoyed Mankell’s books – the Wallander novels in particular – this isn’t a Wallander story but is a character that he’s used before in “Italian Shoes”, you don’t have to have read the previous story to enjoy this one though. Written in the first person, you can really feel the emotion of the character and what he’s going through after his home is destroyed by fire leaving him with only his night clothes and two left-footed wellingtons. I’ll try and remember to do an update next week.


 

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TWTW#5 A Necessary Spectacle

This week has been a bit of a busy one with several trips to and from the vets as the mystery around whatever is wrong with Wilson continues. The good news is that the vet has ruled out a lot serious things but we’re still not 100% certain what is wrong. We’re now waiting the results of some other tests which we should get on Monday or Tuesday.

When I’ve not been doing that I’ve been working on a client proposal and a few business development things.


I’ve been re-reading Empire Games by Charles Stross, mostly because this is the first book in a trilogy and I have the second book to read, but couldn’t remember what happened in the first book or how it ended. It involves multiple timelines, and I understand it better now having reread it. Not altogether sure what’s up next, as I want to read something else before I get started on the second book in the trilogy. The final book should be out later this year but has been a bit delayed already as the author wrote about on his blog.


Will Burrard-Lucas caught a rare black leopard on film for the first time in a while.


I had to get my glasses repaired. They were a new pair that I bought following an eye test just before Christmas and they fell apart almost instantly. I returned them to the opticians and they agreed to replace them free of charge. As I hadn’t heard from them I followed up with a phone call, and miraculously they were ready that afternoon.

Whilst I don’t think the opticians was at fault for the glasses I was a little underwhelmed by their customer service.


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Spring Loaded (TWTW #4)

It’s been a busy week for me, with family appointments and a few work related things. I had to take Wilson to the vets for a follow-up after last weeks sample collection as the results were inconclusive. It looks like that will rumble on for a bit.


Hagfish slime is super-slimy.


I received a new fountain pen, a TWSBI Go, which has a rather unique spring-loaded filling mechanism. I’m liking it so far.


I published a review for this book.

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The Pull of the River by Matt Gaw (Book Review)

The Pull of the River – A journey into the wild and watery heart of Britain by Matt Gaw 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Hardback & ebook: Available now

Paperback: Publ. 21st February 2019

Matt and his friend James set off in a homemade (by James) canoe to explore the rivers and waterways of Britain. The canoe named the “Pipe”, and a smaller craft “Pipette” that Matt later buys “at mates rates” to do some solo exploring, take the pair on some entertaining adventures.

The two initially naive canoeists learn fast from their experiences and mistakes to become more experienced waterman and along the way explore both the slower and faster pace of the watercourses they encounter, as well as the conflicts between users and the natural environment that they at times literally occupy. It doesn’t pull any punches with some of their experiences either. It isn’t just a gentle exploration of the natural environment. There is plenty of evidence as to how we as the human race have adapted, altered and spoilt this essential element of the natural world.

The book has a well researched backstory drawing on the likes of Stevenson, Roger Deakin and others to tell some of the history, myths and facts of the rivers that they set out to explore. It has at times almost poetic prose in describing the natural world; the Barn Owls, Kingfishers, Otters, Beavers and even the infamous “Nessie” (spoiler: there’s no sighting).

This is the authors first book, and I would have loved it to continue on some of the rivers that I am more familiar with. If you are a lover of books about nature, or waterways then you’ll enjoy it too. Similarly if you have an interest in canoes, although not if you are expecting a lot of technical details or long explanations of the building of the Pipe.

[Disclaimer: I was sent an advanced copy of the paperback version of The Pull of the River by the publishers in return for a review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

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A Warm & Damp Sensation (TWTW # 3)

It’s been a cold week and we’ve seen a little bit of snow, although we seem to have escaped the worst of it there have been some quite significant falls just a few miles up the road, so very localised. Fortunately I’ve not really had to go anywhere too far or when I have it was before the snow fall.


We took our dog Wilson to the vet this week, nothing serious we think but it did necessitate gathering a wee sample the next morning. As with human samples this had to be collected from the first “wee of the day” mid stream. When I’ve had to do this in the past I’ve just improvised but the vet provided a collection kit this time. It was nothing glamorous, effectively a sample tube with a scoop attached to it. The only downfall with it, is the ability to see whether the sample tube is full. The warm and damp sensation on the back of your hand is a good indicator though.


I found this interesting infographic on the daily routines of creative people.


In this series of online articles the author has been cutting out one of the big 5 tech companies (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple) from her life each week, with some fairly scary results (particularly with Google), she’s yet to do the final week when she cuts out all of them at the same time but they all make interesting reading.


I was given a copy of Maigret at Christmas for a Christmas present, and thoroughly enjoyed it having not really read any Maigret novels and only really coming across him through TV adaptations (Michael Gambon and more recently Rowan Atkinson). I thought I’d get another one and I’ve been reading that this week.

It was another good read and Georges Simenon has a really smooth and economic writing style.

 

 


I also watched a couple of episodes of the series “The Last Resort”. It’s a simple premise – nuclear submarine is order to launch a warhead via a recognised back-up system, but questions order as it appears there is no war / conflict going on. It is then attacked by it’s own side and goes on the run.

There’s some interesting parallels to it and what else is happening in the world (even though it appears to have been made over five years ago). I’m not sure how well it will stand up as a series, but I’m likely to watch a couple more just to see.


It seems that the US government shut down was good for the elephant seals.

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The Week That Was # 2 (Experiments With Sourdough)

I’ve been wanting to do some sourdough baking for a while now. I already bake quite a bit of our own bread (mostly in a breadmaker), and regularly make pizza bases, rolls and other things and I wanted to give sourdough a try too.

I got a starter (you can make your own but I opted for the slightly easier option) from the Wild Baker and it arrived earlier in the week. I feed it (with flour and water) a couple of times and then it was ready to go.

There are a couple of quite long pauses for rising etc. in the sourdough process and I think next time, I’ll shift things around a bit so that these happen overnight rather than try and squeeze things all into a day-and-a-half.

That said the resulting loaf was fantastic (see above). Great tasting and a definite success. It’s always good when cookery of any kind goes well, but this was especially pleasing.


It’s been a pretty chilly week, with temperatures dropping below 0°C on most nights. This had meant that my home office has been a little inhospitable some mornings and so I’ve moved to our lounge to work.

I’ve been assisted by the dogs to keep me company (and warm), although I must admit they have been a little more distracting than normal. I assume that this is as much the change of routine for them as it is for me.

I’ve been asked by a potential client for a proposal for a piece of work, so I suspect that most of the coming week will be taken up in pulling that together. They have ambitious plans so it’s good that potentially I’ll be a part of that work.


I’m between books at the moment, but a quick visit into town to post a parcel took me past the secondhand bookshop.

I always try and leave more books with them than I take away, and this time I succeeded, although I have to admit to be quite pleased with the ones I found.

Posted in books, Cooking, The Week That Was, work | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments