Autumn treats

Our little town is abuzz with the excitement of the Castlemaine State Festival 2011, our bi-annual culmination of artistic creations and international visiting artists. Over 2 weeks there are gallery opening, exhibitions, children’s craft and music tents, fringe theatre performances, international musicians performing in every available venue and lots of parties and general merriment… We saw a terrific Canadian band called ‘Beyond the Pale’,  playing a fusion of Eurofolk, a a mix of traditional Klezmer and Balkan music. Tonight we we went to hear Belgian singer Micheline performing songs of Jaques Brel. For a little sampler of her amazing voice and stage presence, I have found a YouTube Video for you. I had tears running down my face the entire time…french chanson does that to me….

But the whole day was filled with with the scent of  autumn. The boy missed out on his traditional Autumn Festival at Prep, so I invited his little friend and my lovely neighbour for some pumpkin soup and my now famous, freshly baked Hot Cross Buns….We had a lovely day sitting in the warm sun, chatting and watching the boys climbing trees…

We’ll be making a few more of these until Easter. They are a real treat fresh out of the oven with butter or toasted. Oh, the cross will be added on Easter only….and because I know you’ll be asking, here is the recipe for you….

Wicked Hot X buns

1 kg organic unbleached plain flour

45g mixed spiced (equal mix of mixed spice, ground ginger, ground cloves and cinnamon)

20g sea salt

750ml warm water

30g dried yeast

100g unsalted butter, melted

70g sugar

400g sultanas

40g mixed peel

Paste                                                                    Glaze

120ml water                                                    60g sugar

120g plain flour                                1  tsp mixed spice

55ml water


Dissolve yeast in water and set aside for 10 minutes. Combine butter and sugar in a bowl Add yeast mixture and whisk.

Place flour, spices and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Fold in Sultanas and mixed peel. Add butter mixture and mix with a wooden spoon (or an electric mixer should you be so lucky to own one) and then use your hands to work the dough until smooth and elastic (it will be quite soft and a bit sticky. Don’t be tempted to add too much flour). Form dough into a round ball and place it back in the mixing bowl, covered with a damp towel for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Gently flatten dough n a lightly floured surface. Cut into 20 even portions and form balls and place on two baking trays, leaving 2cm space between balls (or not). Cover again and leave to rise in a warm place for 20-40 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 220C (fanforced).

For paste, whisk flour and water until smooth. Pour into a zip-lock bag and cut off a corner, then pipe crosses on top of risen buns. Bake buns for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 200C and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

For glaze, bring sugar, mixed spice and water to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes. Brush hot glaze over hot buns. Allow to cool and enjoy with a hot coffee or tea!

And lets not forget the few rows of knitting I squeezed in during the past few busy days…although, this one I would like to forget about.

Looking at this picture you’d think this little gem turned out well and I have now moved on to the next project. Not so! More than half way up the pattern on the yoke I realised I totally frogged the lace pattern. Totally! I was mortified, as the whole pattern was giving me grief but I struggled on….I was so upset that I undid the entire thing. Yes, this does not happen very often but this pattern was badly written and unnecessarily complicated…

So I have started on new project with this lovely yarn….

By the way, the colour is called ‘Flashdance’ and it is just beautiful and luscious.

I hope your autumn days are rich and warm (or that your spring is fresh and juicy…)

Alex.

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