Your Daily Bread: Easter Edition

February flew past and as a result, we skipped a month, but I do intend to bring you a monthly bread recipe after our start to the year with the easy wholemeal bread recipe I shared in January. Today I feel like we have jumped to the other end of the spectrum entirely as I took it upon myself this weekend to make Paul Hollywood’s hot cross buns (adapted from How to Bake) – what could be more suitable for a freezing weekend before Easter? I’m not going to re-post the recipe, because it is published here in full, instead, I’m going to tell you what I did and give you my tips.

First things first, this is not a difficult recipe, but it is time consuming and labour intensive. I never normally attempt recipes with this many stages but don’t be put off, it’s the perfect thing to do on a bank holiday weekend or when you’re stuck inside with this horrible winter weather. It’s also flexible – there are three ‘rises’ of at least an hour each, and I just ran local errands and did housework around them and found that the recipe was fine if they were left rising for longer than it called for.

The basic dough was easy enough to make but I found myself short of strong white bread flour and so instead used half wholemeal and half plain white flour. There’s a section at the front of the book saying you can ‘blend’ the two and mine turned out a little firmer with more structure and texture to the bun, but were still delicious and felt healthier.

Folding in the fruit was the hardest bit – it felt like they were never going to stick into the dough and I made my apple chunks too large – they need to be 0.5cms or less. I have taken a photo of the fruit dough before it’s allowed to rise and after (in the bowl,) to reassure you if you feel the same way!

Try and make sure your twelve buns on the tray are the same size and have been rolled smooth so they don’t split during the bake producing odd shapes. They will rise into each other so you can tear them apart just like shop bought ones!

The bit I was most nervous about was putting the crosses onto the buns. I’m not good when it comes to piping so I opted to make the flour and water paste then just drizzle it across the whole tray left to right, then top to bottom until they all has crosses on. It wasn’t the neatest method and I ended up with a few ‘mis-shapes’ but that’s all part of the fun of home-made right?

The Apricot glaze really finishes them off and gives them a beautiful shiny finish, enhancing the golden brown colour.

And the end result? All I can say is make them. It took me the best part of a whole day (although I did other things too, I’d say you need a whole afternoon,) but the end result looks so impressive and I have never been so proud of something I have produced. As for the taste, a shop bought hot cross bun is never going to be the same again. For me they really encapsulate the spirit of Easter feasting, special buns full of fruit, spice and flavour and because they won’t be something you can make every day, they will be all the more special. I can see myself making these every Easter for many a year to come.

Do let me know if you make them and Tweet @FlorenceFinds or Instagram me @Rebecca_Norris a photo – this can be the Florence Finds Easter challenge – I’ll post the results on Facebook 🙂


PS In case you missed the link, here’s the full Paul Hollywood Hot Cross Bun recipe adapted as above from the book, How to Bake.

Florence’s Gift Guide #5: Beautiful Books

It’s official. I’m a book addict, but my favourites to receive as gifts are cookery and interiors books, the kind of coffee table beauties that are full of gorgeous imagery and inspiration. As many of these books are cheaply available online for around the £10 mark, I decided to forgoe a stocking filler gift guide and round up my favourite recipe and decor books that I’ll be giving and would like to receive this Christmas.

For Foodies…

  • I’m ALWAYS looking for recipe books that lean towards sharing food. I love having friends over but rarely make fussy food prefering big plate options, and one pot solutions that everyone can dig into. Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi looks like just such a book and is causing a real stir in the Christmas market this year so it’s on my lust-list.
  • I only discovered the Great British Bake Off this season and got totally addicted. Everyone loves Mary but it’s Paul’s critique and exacting standards that made me want this book. Paul Hollywood, How to Bake
  • I spotted this book on the shelf in the Bertinet Bakery in Bath. I mean, how could you not notice that stunning front cover image? I suspect this would be of the variety of cookery books that I buy mainly for the beautiful imagery, however there are many recipes that look do-able for the keen baker or wannabe pastry chef. Pastry, Richard Bertinet
  • If you’re a regular in the food section at book stores you might have seen Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros, an equally stunning book to this more recent release. I hesitated to buy her books before, fearing I wouldn’t want to attempt the recipes, instead just staring at the pictures, however this book focuses on Italian food – my favourite. Tessa now lives in Tuscany so my mouth waters at even the thought of what this book may contain and it’s more than pretty enough to display too. Limoncello and Linen Water by Tessa Kiros.
  • Lastly, not pretty (what happened with this cover I don’t know as the styling of his books is usually fantastic,) and rather omnipresent this Christmas is Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. I have several Jamie Oliver books and they are without doubt the most relied upon and turned to books in my kitchen. For that reason this has to be a no brainer. Although I’ve heard 15 minutes is more than optimistic for some of the recipes and omits time-consuming prep, I know it would contain recipes that would become staples in my home.

For interiors addicts…

  • First up, Decorate Workshop: A Creative 8 Step Process for Transforming Your Home by Holly Becker. Holly’s second book, this one rather than telling you what to put in your decor projects, advises on how to approach re-decorating and designing your home. Many people struggle to translate inspiration into an actual room and this book shows you how.
  • American Modern, Thomas O’Brien. This book isn’t one you’ll find on the bestseller lists, but it was given to me by a friend and remains my favourite interiors book. With a thorough insight into many American homes in their entirety, I am always inspired when I flick through it’s pages.
  • Another older choice but still relevant, Domino: the Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy, is perfect for the coffee table but full of inspiration. I bought a special edition Domino magazine whilst away and just loved the approach to design, decor and styling so have renewed interest in this book which is on this years Christmas list 🙂
  • If you have a friend who has just bought their first home or is in the midst of renovation project, Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love: is a great book. Full of DIY ideas from super bloggers Sherry and John Petersik who have documented their own renovations on the synonymous blog.

Readers, I would love for you to share any thoughts on my selection – do you own any of these books and are they a good gift choice or do you have any other suggestions to add to my list? Are you also coveting any of them?


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