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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Easter Cookies

I was asked by the lovelies at Sainsbury's to share an Easter recipe that other families could bake and enjoy together.  I of course asked my family what they would like to bake and after much debate it was decided that we would bake cookies.

I used my standard cookie recipe and added spice and raisins for an Easter twist.  The recipe makes 50 cookies, you can easily halve the recipe should you not need/want to bake so many.  The cookies are delicious, great for having with a cuppa or as a lunchbox treat and a welcome gift for friends or for sharing at coffee mornings.  My team of taste testers on the school run, along with a few teachers, declared them to be delicious and very tasty indeed.  Result!



Easter Cookies

Makes 50, recipe easily halved

225g unsalted butter, softened
330g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 dollop vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground mixed spice
370g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g seedless raisins

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.  Line a few oven trays with non-stick baking paper.  

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in a large bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, along with 2 tablespoons of flour with each egg, and beat well after each addition.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until completely combined.  Stir through the raisins so they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Place heaped teaspoonfuls on your prepared trays, allow room for the cookies to spread.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes until the cookies are starting to turn golden brown around the edges.  Once baked, cool the cookies on the trays for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack until completely cool.  Store in an airtight container.




* I was compensated for my time and expertise creating this recipe **

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Not Cross Bunnies

We always make our own Hot Cross Buns every Easter.  They are so easy to make and taste much better than shop bought ones.  I bake them in bulk because they make great treats for friends and are also most welcome at coffee mornings.  You can bake these at any time of year, just leave off the crosses.  

For a bit of fun we decided to shape the buns into bunnies.  It was lots of fun, the buns kind of look like bunnies, they were very tasty indeed.

You can make these Not Cross Bunnies by hand or use a stand mixer.  If you want to make normal Hot Cross Buns just shape the dough portions into buns instead of bunnies.



Not Cross Bunnies

This recipe makes 10 bunnies or 12 Hot Cross Buns.

250ml/1 cup warm water
2 Tblsp caster sugar
1 sachets instant yeast 
375g/2.5 cups plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
150g mixed dried fruit or seedless raisins
25 g softened butter
1 free range egg

Stir the water and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the instant yeast and mix in the dried fruit, then make a well in the centre. 

Pour in the water, add the eggs and the softened butter. Mix until combined with a wooden spoon and then turn out onto a floured bench and knead the dough lightly. 

This is a fairly moist dough so add extra flour if you need to during the kneading process. Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it’s smooth.

Or put all the dry ingredients and the dried fruit mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. 
Start the stand mixer on a low speed to mix the dry ingredients before slowly adding the water, eggs and softened butter. Knead on a low speed until everything is well combined and then knead for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.

Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with greased cling film. Leave in a warm place till dough doubles in size, this should take around 45 minutes. 

I usually leave the dough to rise in my stand mixer as it has a handy plastic cover that seals the bowl and provides the perfect place for the dough to rise. Be careful though, if you leave the dough to rise for too long it may overflow your mixer bowl.

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and then give it a quick knead. Divide the dough into 12 portions and shape 10 of them into bunnies.  Use the other 2 portions for the bunny tails.  
To shape the bunnies, first roll each dough portion into a long sausage.  Form the dough into a U shape, twist the dough twice at the bottom leaving two bunny ears at the top.  Place a small ball of dough in the bottom loop for a bunny tail. 

Put the shaped bunnies onto a greased oven tray and cover with the greased cling film. Leave them to rise for around half an hour, whilst your oven preheats to 200C, and until they’ve doubled in size.

Bake the buns at 200°C for 15 minutes then brush with sugar glaze and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown.

To make the Sugar Glaze dissolve 2 Tbsp Sugar in ¼ cup (60ml) warm water.

Cool the Not Cross Bunnies on a wire rack and then either eat them, give them to friends or freeze them for later in a sealed, airtight bag.