Brunch idea: cranberry and apricot buns

cranberry and apricot bunsRight before Christmas, we finally moved into our new apartment. Not everything is ready yet, but most of it is, and I’m especially happy with my fabulous new kitchen! As more and more people are visiting us now, I’ve started organizing brunches as an easy alternative. And so this bun recipe by Paul Hollywood made for a perfect treat! We now have underfloor heating too, which is doing wonders when my dough needs to rise! Another plus after all the Christmas dinners is that this recipe is low fat (and you can freeze the left-overs). Here’s how to make them:

Put 500 g strong white flour and 1 tsp salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add a 7 g sachet fast-action yeast. Meanwhile, warm 300 ml milk and 40 g butter in a pan until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm. Add the milk mixture and 1 egg to the flour mixture and stir until the contents come together as a soft dough (add extra flour if you need to). Tip the dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead for 5 mins, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. Lightly oil a bowl with vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn until covered in oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size.

Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. For the filling, knock the dough back to its original size and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a 1cm-thick rectangle. Brush all over with 25 g melted butter, then sprinkle over 75 g soft brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 100 g dried cranberries and 100 g chopped dried apricots. Roll up the dough into a tight cylinder, cut into 9 x 4cm slices and position on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 mins.

Heat the oven to 170 C. Bake the buns for 20-25 mins or until risen and golden brown. Meanwhile, melt 50 g sugar with 4 tbsp water until syrupy. Remove the buns from oven and glaze with the sugar mix. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, mix the zest of 1 lemon and 100 g icing sugar with 1 egg white to make icing. Stir until you get a syrupy mix, add extra sugar if you need to. Drizzle over the buns. Enjoy while listening to Good King Wenceslas (hey I just love Christmas!) in the version of the Irish Rovers.

Use up left-over apricots in an apricot and marzipan twist or a fruit cake. Use up leftover cranberries in white chocolate and cranberry cookies.

Soft and chewy: white chocolate and cranberry cookies

White chocolate and cranberry cookies
White chocolate and cranberry cookies

I’m still trying out my Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days cookbook and these cookies definitely sounded delicious (and they are delicious too!). I’m not a big fan of regular chocolate (most chocolate recipes on this blog, if they appear are usually made for my family-in-law who are all addicted to the brown gold) but you can always tempt me with white chocolate! And I still had half a bag of dried cranberries in my cupboard that I once bought and used for I-can’t-remember-what. So a great way to use them up: a clear win-win situation that is!

Preheat the oven to 160 C and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Mix together 135 g softened butter, 80 g caster sugar and 80 g soft light brown sugar. Add 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and mix well. Add 190 g flour in two batches, adding 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda with the second batch. Lastly, stir in 120 g dried cranberries (the recipe calls for a 100 g, but that left a few sad cranberries in my bag and we can’t have that, so I chucked them all in adding another 20 g. Because of it, I increased the amount of chocolate as well) and 80 g white chocolate chips (the recipe calls for 60 g – if you don’t have those, just cut a bar of chocolate in small chunks).

Break off pieces of the dough, roll them into balls and place them on the baking sheets, making sure they are spaced apart so they can spread. Personally, I don’t like American sized cookies. I prefer mine to be a guilt-free nibble instead of a 3-course meal really. So generally I make a golf-ball size ball. In this case, I didn’t expect them to spread that much, it was like wildfire, so I ended up with cookies that were about 8 cm in diameter! Half the size would have been perfect for me, so if you’re like me: roll small balls!

Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 min or until the cookies are a light golden on top. Leave to cool on the sheets for about 10 min before transferring to a wire rack. And try not to eat them all on the same day… good luck!