Hot cross buns and a local, weekly meal plan


We are just back from a great weekend at Mum and Dad's place near Rydal just over the Blue Mountains. Mum is an artist and art teacher (the bronze birds pictured above are one of her works) and so her studio is heaven for Alice who is all about drawing and craft at the moment. Yesterday while they pottered in there I pottered in the kitchen and made some hot cross buns. 

Not being a big fan of currants etc in cakes (controversial I know), I make mine with apple and cranberries. The recipe given here makes sweet, cake-ey buns that are at their best the day they are made (or warmed gently in an oven the next day). 

Today we 'helped' Dad move his herd of Belted Galloway cows which sort of went pear-shaped when Tom decided to go swimming in mud puddles instead. 

Mum also runs residential art classes from Kimbri, she is an incredible teacher, the farm is beautiful and the food delicious, you can read more about them here.

Cinnamon and apple hot cross buns
1 cup caster sugar
1 lemon
2 apples, unpeeled, cored and diced
1 cinnamon stick
5 cups plain flour
50g Craisins
14g instant yeast
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
380ml milk
100g butter, cubed
1 egg

Combine half of the sugar and 375ml water in a saucepan, add the juice of the lemon and the cinnamon stick and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the apple, bring to the simmer and then reduce heat and let cook for about 25 minutes. Strain, reserving fruit and the syrup but separately.

Combine all but 1/3 cup of the flour in a large bowl, add the craisins, yeast, 2 tsp of the cinnamon, the ginger and remaining sugar. Pour the milk into a small saucepan, add the butter and stir gently until the butter is mostly melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and then pour in the warm milk mixture. Add the diced and cooled apple then either knead in a mixer with a dough attachment or by hand on a floured board for about 6 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 200C, Knock back the dough and then divide into about 12-15 pieces, kneading each one into a smooth ball. Arrange these on a baking tray and let rise for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile mix remaining flour with a little water to make a thick paste, spoon this into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle or a small plastic sandwich bag and then snip off the bottom to pipe a cross on each bun.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. While this is happening, bring the reserved apple syrup back to a simmer, add the cinnamon and grab your pastry brush. As soon as they buns come out of the oven brush them with this glaze and set aside. Serve warm with jam or just a smear of butter.
This recipe borrows heavily from one printed in the April 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. The original can be found here.  

Local Harvest Local Eating Challenge and our meal plan for this week

This week we are teaming up with a few friends in the area to take the Local Harvest Challenge. This means we have committed to buying (almost) all our food locally for the next seven days.
Our major ‘suppliers’ this week will Slice of Orange, a fantastic shop in the centre of Orange stocking only products sourced from within a 160km radius. Through them we have sourced the biggest, most beautiful box of fruit and vegetables from Katie of the Nashdale Fruit Company. For bread we will look to Shaun and Willa Arantz of Racine Restaurant and we'll also pay a visit or two to our clever local winemakers.

Unfortunately we won’t be able to source absolutely everything we need from the area, particularly dairy products which we can’t really forgo because the kids love their milk etc. I’ll also have to source things like salt, flour and yeast elsewhere but that’s about it.

So to keep me honest and organised, here is the Hansen family’s meal and shopping plan for this week. The recipes are all pretty simple though possibly some are a bit ambitious; I'm not sure I'll have the time to make gnocchi on Wednesday so may have to give in and buy some dried pasta. I also haven’t put in all of our lunches and snacks as I thought that might border on over-sharing. If you feel like doing the challenge with us and are keen for any of the recipes listed below please do let me know and I’ll email them through (most will pop up on the blog over the next couple of weeks though). And if you live in Orange, please contact Slice of Orange as they will happily organise you a produce box and sort you out with other local produce too.

Happy local shopping, cooking and eating!

Dinner - Venison scallopine with chestnuts and sage
Dessert - Fresh Turkish Brown Figs

Afternoon tea/lunchbox- Chestnut and rhubarb cake
Dinner - Quince, kale and hazlenut salad with Goat’s curd croutons

Lunch - fennel and mint bruschetta
Dinner - Classic ragu with gnocchi and steamed broccoli

Tomato, goat’s curd and rainbow chard pizza
Apple crumble (VV - cooking with kids)

Afternoon tea - Spelt, Pear and honey cake
Dinner - Hit one of our great local restaurants

Lunch - Sorrel soup with corn fritters
Dinner - Roast garlic chicken with spiced pumpkin  (LIL)
Dessert - Poached pears with honey’d yogurt

Shopping list

From A Slice of Orange
goat’s curd
olive oil
Venison (Mandagery Creek of course!)
Goat’s curd

Fresh produce via the Nashdale Fruit Company at Slice of Orange
Turkish brown figs
Cloudy apple juice
Dutch cream potatoes
Rainbow chard

From our garden
Quinces, cherry tomatoes and herbs

From our local cellar doors
Red and white wine!

Bread by Racine via Slice of Orange ingredients we need to source from outside the region
wholemeal flour
spelt flour
Porridge oats
Tomato paste


  1. Beautiful photos...looks like a lovely weekend and those buns; yum!

    1. Thanks Jane. Hope you have a great Easter! Sophie

  2. You are totally making me want to move to the country. I can almost smell those buns!

    1. Hi Rhonda, thanks for your comment! Hope you have a great week,

  3. Hi Sophie, your blog is so lovely and your photos are fabulous. Your eat local challenge is very inspiring and poor Tom looks thoroughly put out! I am looking forward to reading more. xx

  4. nice idea.. thanks for sharing...

  5. Hi Sophie,
    I made these hot cross buns over the weekend and they were amazing! I was really worried about ending up with heavy dense buns after my last attempt at making them but am so pleased with the result that they'll become an easter tradition. The whole family loved them! Sash


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