Spiced Ale Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns!

I have a rather vivid  memory of me in preschool playing this song on a recorder. I can see the room (my preschool was held in a church and the "music" room was in a meeting room that had those carpet covered moveable divider walls), the teacher behind a keyboard, and a bunch of little 3 and 4 year olds trying to screech out these notes. I had no clue what a hot cross bun was until I became an adult, but I did remember this song.

I have previously made a hot cross bun, but when this month's Sourdough Surprises challenge came along, I knew we were going to have to try a sourdough version, too. This version is very similar to the yeasted version, with a few small changes. Sourdough, obviously, but I also added more spices, soaked the dried fruits in hot black tea overnight, and used a dark ale. Originally supposed to be a stout, I realized I didn't have any beer when I was mixing up my poolish, and a quick knock at the neighbor's door turned up a perfect surprise. They had a lone bottle of Spiced Christmas Ale in the back of their fridge, and I thought it could not be a more perfect addition.

These buns are a perfect treat for your Easter table, or any time. They are soft, slightly sweet, and deliciously flavored. The tang of sourdough is mellowed by the ale and spices, and everything seems to blend together perfectly. 

Please take a moment and check out the other delicious hot cross buns made with sourdough starter this month! 

Spiced Ale Sourdough Hot Cross Buns (adapted from Lauren Bakes

325 ml Spiced Ale or stout
150 g sourdough starter
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cardamom
800 g flour
325 g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, prunes, cherries and cranberries but you use whatever combination you want)
175 g mixed peel (candied/crystallized orange and lemon zest)
200 ml hot black tea
1 large egg
50 mg melted butter
50 g sugar
1.5 tsp salt

Cross topping:
1/4 cup flour
2 TBSP water

3 TBSP boiling water
3 TBSP sugar
(I also added 1 tsp orange blossom water, but this is optional)

The night before, mix together the ale, starter, spices and 250 g of flour in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl mix the dried fruit, mixed peel and hot black tea.
Cover both bowls and allow to sit on the counter overnight.

In the morning, mix the plumped up fruit, egg and melted butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Stir in the spiced beer batter.
Mix in the flour, sugar, and salt and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough, cover  with a tea towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough, recover, and let it rest for another 30 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough, recover, and let it rest for an hour.
Stretch and fold the dough, recover, and let it rest for 2 hours.
Weight out 100 g balls of dough (you should get 20), roll them into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet so they are almost touching.
Cover with a tea towel and allow to sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour and water to form a paste and pipe crosses onto the tops of the buns.
Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
While the buns are still hot, mix together the boiling water and sugar for the glaze (and orange blossom water, if you want), and brush over the top.
Allow to cool, Enjoy!

Best Broccoli Salad

Let's just say I am tired. The last week has been an utter whirlwind. Thursday we drove 800 miles to Iowa. Friday we ran around and had appointments (the bank, Joel's new job, preschool visits...) Then Saturday, Sunday and Monday we looked at 30 houses. Thirty! We even tried to buy three, but didn't get any of them. One was sold 30 minutes before we put our offer in, one we counter offered and counter offered but couldn't agree with the seller so we walked away, and one we lost to a bidding war of 11 people (this house was only on the market like 24 hours!). Needless to say, yesterday we came back to Ohio still homeless, but with a new found appreciation for realtors (ours is definitely earning his pay with us, haha) and realizing how picky we actually are. After living in 5 rentals, we really know what is important to us (big back yard, formal dining room, finished basement) and what we are willing to compromise on (for instance, I could really care less about granite counters or a gorgeous tiled bath - we can always update those later, anyway). So, the hunt goes on! 

Oh, and one more thing. Seriously, people. Dirty used q-tips, dried leaves on the floor  and scratches and dents on ever wall will not sell your home. Just saying. :) 

I have never been that interested in broccoli salad before. It's a potluck/picnic type of dish, and sure I grab a scoop at a potluck here or there, but I've never really been that excited about it. Until we were having a potluck birthday dinner at a friend's house and her husband asked if I could make a broccoli salad. I spent a while looking at different recipes (did you know there are approximately 342 different ways to make broccoli salad?!) before I finally settled on this one. I boy am I sure glad I did. This. Stuff. Is. Delicious. The dressing starts out kind of dry, so you need to let it rest in the fridge for a bit, but by the time its ready to eat its marinated to perfection. 

Best Broccoli Salad Ever (recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

8-10 cups fresh broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into thin bite sized slices
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white sugar
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the broccoli, onion, bacon, cranberries and almonds.
In a medium bowl whisk together the mayo, sugar,  and red wine vinegar.
Stir the dressing into the salad, cover and allow to refrigerate for about 3 hours.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and Enjoy!

Thai Chicken and Quinoa Casserole

Well, here we go! We are currently driving across the country (with kids and dogs in tow) to look at houses! Wish us luck that we find one that is perfect for our family and that things go smoothly and easily for us. And also for Grandma and Papa who are watching two girls while we shop for houses! Haha...

I have made this a couple times now, tweaking it each time until I finally got it right. And I'm loving it, so I definitely needed to share it with you! This is an almost one-pot skillet dish (except you need a second pot to cook to quinoa). You can leave the chicken out and make this vegetarian, or you can add it in for a little extra oomph. Either way is delicious, and this is definitely easy to make! 

Thai Chicken and Quinoa Casserole (Recipe by Me)

3/4 cup quinoa
3-4 mini sweet peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounces coconut milk
1 cup raisins
2 TBSP coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Rinse the quinoa and cook according to package directions (7-10 minutes).
While the quinoa is cooking, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Add the oil, garlic, peppers, cayenne powder, curry powder, and chili powder, and the white parts of the green onions. Sautee 6 minutes.
Stir in the black beans, coconut milk, raisins, salt, 1/2 cup of the cilantro, and the quinoa.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Top with the green onions and remaining cilantro, serve, and Enjoy!

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