Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

Here is a traditional British Easter bread for you.  There is quite a history behind Hot Cross Buns.  Apparently, they have been baked since ancient times and served as a spring treat to represent the equal day/night of the Equinox.  The Christians didn't like reminders of any pagan religions  It was Queen Elizabeth I that made a law that these little treats could only be made on religious holidays, thereby "converting" them to an acceptable goodie.  See, if you rotate it, it changes the whole thing!

 The cross on top suddenly represented the cross of the crucifixion and these buns became most popular on Good Friday.

Regardless of their history, they are delicious!

Hot Cross Buns:
3/4 cup evaporated milk, warmed
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg white
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup currants
3 cups flour
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp water
Put the evaporated milk in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm.  Combine the milk, butter, sugar, salt, yeast in a mixing bowl and let work.  Add the egg and egg white and mix.  Add 1 cup of flour, currants and cinnamon.  Mix in the rest of the flour.  Knead, cover  and let rise until doubled.  Form into 12 buns and place in a greased baking pan.  Keep them far enough away from each other that they won't stick together as they rise.  Cover and let rise 1/2 an hour.  Combine the egg yolk and water.  Brush the buns with the egg mixture and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.  While they are cooling, make the glaze in a bowl.  Combine the butter and powdered sugar with the back of a soup spoon.  Combine the water and vanilla and add slowly to the powdered sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.  It should be thick, but spreadable.  Put it into a sandwich size plastic bag.  Seal and snip one corner.  Pipe the icing onto the buns ONLY after the buns are mostly cooled down (you don't want the icing melting and falling off!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homemade Yogurt: Make Your Own Monday #12

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was getting a Yolife yogurt maker from the CSN family of stores and that one of you was going to get to win one, too.  Well this is the week - the giveaway will start on Wednesday.

I received my yogurt maker last week and was very excited to try it out.  You must remember, however, that I live in Nowhere, AZ, so I had to call quite a few stores and drive a bit to buy some yogurt starter.  There are other alternatives; I could have used a store bought yogurt as my starter, but I like options.
The nice thing about this yogurt maker is that it comes with two lids.  Can you see them on the box?  The small lid fits over the seven 6 ounce jars that come with the maker.  The larger lid allows you to make much larger quantities of yogurt using mason jars up to 1 quart in size.   I chose to make mine in pint jars.

Here is what I did:
Homemade Yogurt: 
64 ounces milk
1 ounce yogurt starter (or 1/2 cup plain yogurt with active cultures)
Bring the milk to 180 degrees (use a candy thermometer to measure the heat).    Allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees.   Take 3-4 Tbsp of milk out of the pan and mix it with the starter in a bowl until smooth.  Add the starter mixture back into the milk and stir until completely combined.  Pour into your clean glass jars and place in the yogurt maker.  Leave it in the maker 4-12 hours depending on the size of your jars and the kind of starter.  (note to self, do not start at 2pm if it's going to take 12 hours!!).

There is a nifty clock dial on the top of this yogurt maker's lids that allows you to indicate when you started so that you can better keep track of the time.

Now that I had four pints of plain yogurt, what was I to do?  Can you see it in the jar?   That's the amount I saved to make another batch.

I took one pint and made yogurt cheese by placing it in cheese cloth within a strainer over a bowl.
After a 15 hours, it looked like this.  Then I added 1/2 tsp stevia and 1 tsp of strawberry all-fruit jam.
It made a great spread for bagels and french toast.  

I tried adding regular jam to another pint.  My sons, the Yoplait lovers, thought it was too tart and too flavorless.  Then I had an idea.  I am a little ashamed to tell you what I added to the rest of the yogurt, but it worked.  All five of my kids slurped up the remaining yogurt in 60 seconds flat.  I added strawberry jell-o (about 1/3 of a big package to 1 1/2 pints).
 Look at that artificially dyed and flavored kid heaven.

I am still working on a healthy concoction that the kids approve.  I will let you know.

Now, I know that there is a way to make yogurt in the crockpot.  My problem is that the milk has to be kept at a fairly low constant temperature and my crockpot was always too hot.  It burned things on the low setting (and has since earned a place in the world's landfills).   I know that there is also a way to make yogurt in a towel wrapped cooler.  I don't happen to have one small enough.   

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blogging Brings Unexpected Opportunities For All of Us

When I began my "Make Your Own Monday" series, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone a bit and make some things I hadn't really thought of making, like cream cheese, jelly donuts, yogurt, and pizza rolls. Making some of those things might involve some creative repurposing of things I already own, as it would be at cross purposes of "frugal antics" to spend a ton of money in the attempt to save money.

Certainly, I can fry donuts in a dutch oven.  I always have cheese cloth on hand and have found that it doesn't hurt to wash and reuse it. I thought perhaps I would make some yogurt in my crockpot.  I have seen it done on a few blogs and not having a yogurt maker of my own, I thought it would be the best route to go.  Then, out of the blue, I was contacted by company that sells tons of products from cookware and barstools to furniture and other things about doing a review/giveaway of one of their items.  I got to choose.

My thoughts immediately turned to this series.  I went through my list and decided that we (you and I) need our own yogurt makers.  So, sometime soon, I will be posting about my adventure with the Tribest Yolife Yogurt Maker.  I will also be hosting a giveaway of the same product.  Stay tuned!
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