I’d been pondering over what to bake over Easter for some time. For the past few years I’ve made cookie dough meringues (I’ll put the recipe on here one day, they’re incredible), an apple pie and creme egg brownies. But none of them had been using ‘traditional’ Easter flavours.
I watched The Great British Bake Off Easter Masterclass, where Mary Berry made a Simnel Cake and Paul Hollywood made hot cross buns (he also made Tsoureki, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet, as much as I love it, it looks quite challenging to bake!) After browsing various websites, I came across a recipe on BBC Good Food for a Simnel Tear and Share, which combines the flavours of a Simnel Cake, Hot Cross Buns and Chelsea Buns. So I thought I’d give it a go!
I’d actually never baked using yeast before (I’ve usually made cakes rather than bread) so I was expecting it to be a bit of a challenge. But look how my beauties turned out!!
This is the recipe, as taken from the BBC Good Food website:
300g strong white bread flour
140g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g golden caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
zest 1 lemon
200ml warm milk
2 tsp almond extract
1 large egg
oil, for greasing bowl/proving
For The Filling
50g butter, at room temperature
100g light soft brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp lemon juice
50g mixed peel
50g marzipan, coarsely grated, plus 50g/2oz extra for the ‘Apostle’ balls
85g apricot jam
85g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
Mix the flours, sugar, yeast, zest and 1 tsp salt in a big bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, almond extract and egg, then stir into the dry ingredients with a cutlery knife. Leave to rest for 10 mins.
- Knead the dough for 10 mins on a lightly floured surface until smooth and no longer sticky, then put in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm-ish for at least 1 hr until doubled in size.
- Line the base of a 25 x 35cm tin, or 30cm square, with baking parchment. Mix the first 4 filling ingredients to a smooth paste, then stir in the dried fruit and 50g marzipan.
- Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 35 x 25cm. Crumble over the filling and press into the dough. Roll up tightly from one long side and, using a floured knife, cut into 12 even pieces. (This is how mine looked at this stage: I couldn’t get it into a perfectly rectangle so I ended up cutting off some of the corners, ending up with 8 rather than 12)
- Put these into the tin, spiral-side up, leaving 0.5cm space between them. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 30-45 mins until nearly doubled in size. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
- Bake the buns for 25-30 mins. If they are browning too quickly after 15 mins, cover loosely with baking parchment. Take the buns out of the oven and, while warm, melt the jam and brush all over the top. Leave to cool in the tin. (Mine looked like this – a couple of them had unravelled a bit, and some of the filling had spilled out, but I managed to scoop most of it back in)
- Once cool, mix the icing sugar with a little water to a runny consistency and drizzle over. With the remaining marzipan, make 11 balls to represent the Apostles – without Judas – and scatter over with the almonds. Best eaten the day of baking. If making ahead or freezing, warm through in a low oven before serving to give that just-baked flavour. (Again, here are my final buns!)
It wasn’t the easiest thing I’d ever made, but it was good fun, and a sense of achievement when it was done. And very tasty indeed!