Easter Breakfast Wreath

I’m commiting this to keypad partly for all the people who’ve asked me for the recipe, but mostly to save myself from having to rifle through countless ratty pieces of refill paper looking for it twice a year!

I’ve been making this wreath for breakfast on Good Friday and Christmas Mornings for a few years now after finding the recipe somewhere in the ether that is the Internet; every attempt I’ve ever made at Hot Crossed Buns has ended in complete failure and more than a few tears so the spices and zest in this bread makes a great substitute in my mind. I would make it more often (I could eat it every day, in fact, it’s almost the only thing I did eat today!) but I think it’s so important to add your own family traditions to holidays as well as following the ones you grew up with. If I made it every week it wouldn’t be our special holiday “thing”. We were never a champagne breakfast family growing up, and it seems a waste of good ham/trifle space to have a cooked breakfast on Christmas morning, but a bowl of cocoa pops or a couple of pieces of toast just didn’t seem very special. Hence, one of the traditions I’ve started for my family is the Breakfast Brioche Wreath.

It’s hot. It’s sweet. It’ll take as much butter as you can lather onto it. It would be my Death Row breakfast for sure. The fact that it can be made the night before and left for the second rise overnight in the fridge makes it even sweeter; Christmas morning rolls around and before you can say “Can I just make a coffee before you start ripping into your presents/Please stay still so I can take a photo/No, that one has your brother’s name on it . . . oh never mind”, your house is filled with the heavenly scent of freshly baked bread and you’re all but tearing hunks off with our bare hands. Well, I am!

It’s Good Friday Night here at the moment, you still have heaps of time to get everything together for your own wreath for Easter Sunday. Go on, you won’t regret it.*

Christmas/Easter Breakfast Wreath

DOUGH

2 1/4 tspn yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm milk

3 tbspn sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 tspn salt

cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste (I do a combo of about a tablespoon all up)

2 eggs

Zest of a lemon and/or an orange – you can use mixed peel if you like (I don’t like), and as with the spices, put as much or as little as you prefer

3 1/2 cups plain flour

FILLING

3/4 cup dries cranberries/sultanas, soaked

6 tbspns butter, softened

1/3 cup plain flour

3/4 cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped

3 tbspns sugar

1 tspn lemon rind

GLAZE

1/2 cup water

3 tbspns castor sugar

Dissolve yeast in water. Blend the milk, sugar, butter, salt, spices, eggs and lemon in a large bowl, and add yeast mixture.

Stir in 2 cups of the flour, one at a time (the easiest way is with a dough hook attachment on your hand or bowl mixer, but you can do it with a good old spoon), beat for two minutes. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough is workable.

Knead until smooth (5-10 mins), place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise to twice the size (about 1 1/2 hours)

To make the filling, drain the fruit, combine with all other ingredients, cover and refrigerate.

Punch down the risen dough, knead lightly and roll into a rectangle approx 50cm long and 5mm thick. Crumble the filling over the dough, coming to 1 inch away from the edges. Roll up from the long side and pinch the edge to seal.

This is the tricky bit – unfortunately I didn’t take any process photos so stay with me! With a sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise and turn each half cut-side-up, so that you have the halves lying side by side. Carefully lift the halves over each other one at a time to create a twisted look, then curve the twisted dough into a circular shape. Transfer onto a greased and floured tray. at this point you can either proove it again for 45mins then bake, or pop it into the fridge overnight until it has risen again. Ha, ha. (That’s a terrible joke, sorry.)

Either way, when you’re ready, bake at 180C for 25mins. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small saucepan and boil until it has reduced enough to form a syrupy consistency. Brush hot glaze over the hot wreath and then sit on your hands until it’s cooled down enough to eat.

Serve in slices with plenty of butter and hot coffee. It makes a lovely present for friends and neighbours, if you can bear to part with it that is!!

 

Sweet, spicy, buttery, caffeiny heaven.

Sweet, spicy, buttery, caffeiny heaven.

 

 

*actually, your waist may regret it. You’ve been warned.

Scratch that.

In the intervening week, Old Man Donald’s (as Little calls it) has done something weird to the filling. It’s . . . Mock-creamy. The ickyest substance known to man.

In the name of research I’ve given them several more chances, when we needed to buy something in order to use the Playplace, or we needed to buy something in order to use the toilets, or we needed to buy something in order to avoid a three foot high meltdown, and in every case they’ve been below the par set by my first lemony delight. It’s possible that I was a bit overexcited and short circuited some braincells at first McD macaron sight.

As you were.

J xx

Outdone by the Golden Arches.

I had a McD’s macaron today. In a word? Yes. YES. It was lemony. It had a beautiful foot. It was just the right side of gooey enough. It brought me to thinking about my first post (again – pretty sure I’ve reflected on it before), the one about my goals for 2012. Well, Mission Macaron never made it off the ground, so I’m carrying it over to ’13 . . .

On the upside, Little continues to be a *mostly* wonderful wee chap, we managed to produce another wee man who is frighteningly similar looking to his brother (but waaaay more laid back!), and I skirted the issue of getting around to redecorating a minimum of one room in our house by moving to Wellington. I think this counts as a complete home renovation by dint of looking and feeling completely different from where we’d previously been living. Taa daa! Husbo has already begun tearing down walls however, so a post detailing our reno’s may not be too far away after all!

I hereby declare that once the baby and the not-so-baby get over their respective colds, I clear the annoying tickle which is threatening in the back of my throat, and after we get back from Great Nanna Pearl’s birthday bash this weekend, Project Macaron will begin in earnest. Wait – should it be a Project or a Mission? It needs capitalisation, anyway!

Someone, please hold me to this. There’ll be treats in it for you.

J xx

little has gone a bit froofy.

Just a little bit. Not a lot. But my latest project is quite a departure from the usual bold colours and sharp graphic prints that I so love. Today I went . . . flowery and lacey. Hmm.

It started, if I’m honest, in 2004, when I bought a small amount of floral material from whatever that super-fantastic fabric warehouse is called on Sar St in Thorndon, Wngtn. As with many, many of my fabric purchases over the years, it got put away carefully and occasionally met with the light of day when I got it out to, you know, stroke it. (Please Note: ALL FABRIC PEOPLE DO THIS, I’M NOT CRAZY.) Part of getting ready for the new baby’s arrival involves trying to use up as much of my stash as possible in order to make enough room for a whole ‘nother person to live at our house, ergo: Pretty Floral Fabric That Makes Me Go “Squeeeee” – your time has cometh at last!!

I put on my big girl pants, got brave, found my shears and started cutting. Happily, today’s project also afforded me the opportunity to use another special little something that had been squirrelled away; my precious friend Natalie of Poppy and Bee had kindly given me a length of beee-aaaa-uuuu-tiful hand made cotton lace that she’d come across on her travels. After I wore it around as a scarf for a while I thought I’d better do as promised and make something with it!

someone, somewhere at some point worked re-heally hard on this! Thank you, someone. x

l i t t l e "lady lace" skirt - August 5th 2012

l i t t l e “lady lace” skirt – August 5th 2012

She’s a simple wee thing, but with handwork that gorgeous, do you really want to do too much to distract?? Sizes 1, 2 and 3 will be available for purchase on my table at Oh, For Crafts’ Sake from tomorrow.

J xx

I love a good fast bake.

mega cookie, ready to be divided and devoured

And by fast, I mean it all comes together in the time it takes for one boy to be bathed by his father. That’s making, baking, and doing the dishes, all in under 15 minutes! (Sometimes I even have to wait around for the oven to get up to temp they’re that speedy!) Introducing the wonder that is The Kitchen Sink Cookie.

Secondary to its brilliance as a quick bake is the fact that you can use up pretty much anything you have left over from other baking experiments; a handful of almonds, those mini marshmallows you found at the back of the pantry last week, dried fruits if you’re feeling virtuous (I wasn’t). Throw in anything you have, but the kitchen sink. So I guess they should really be called Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies. Anyway the point is that there should be juuuuust enough biscuit to hold all the gooey, melty, chewy, exciting bits together. My kind of biscuit. Tonight I’ve opted for peanuts, dark chocolate chips and white chocolate buttons. Other popular permutations have included:

  • White chocolate, pistachio and craisin
  • Mini marshmallow, bittersweet chocolate and caramel bits
  • Almond, coconut and milk chocolate chunks

The sky – or your pantry -is the limit.

the only thing better than cookie is cookie dough!!

KITCHEN SINK COOKIES (makes about a dozen ginormous ones)

1 cup + 2 tbspn plain flour

3/4 tspn baking soda

1/2 tspn salt

115g butter, softened

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

6 tbspn white sugar

1 egg

1 tspn vanilla extract

2 or 3 cups of good bits – chocolate, fruit, nuts etc. Feel free to really go to town, the more the merrier.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla. Sift in flour, salt and baking soda, stir to combine and mix in your yummies. Place dessertspoonfuls onto baking trays (they do spread quite a bit), bake for 10-15 minutes. My oven takes 12 minutes on fan bake, then I like to cool them on the tray. Handy hint: cooling them on the tray makes biscuits crunchy. If you prefer soft and chewy, transfer your biscuits to a rack after you’ve cooled them about five minutes.

I found this recipe on one of my favourite blogs, Cookie Madness. Here is the original recipe, but BEWARE – if you’re a baker, prepare to be a) hooked, and b) occasionally annoyed by the mention of way-cool American treats that we’ve neither seen or heard of in little old Noo Zillund.

Usually the Friday night before a market is reserved for running around getting last minute things finished and organised, but tomorrow is a late start and I’m uncharacteristically ahead of myself in prep, so I decided that it might be nice to have some cookies on hand for quiet moments and to share with my neighbours at Crafternoon Tea. After all, nowhere is karma more evident than at a market where word of mouth and a bit of hype will get you everywhere. Auckland peeps you can check out the wonder that is Crafternoon Tea here. If you’re there early I might even have some left to share with you!

 

j xx

Yet another use for paper doilies!

I’m super lucky to have a handy husband. He’s been known to knock up fences, decks, and dog kennels without breaking a sweat, and once when a visiting friend commented on my new herb planter we all got a surprise when he presented her with one to take home before we’d even finished our cups of tea. So when I started selling at markets and said I was after a tall rack with arms for displaying kid’s clothes, he said “no problem”. Ten minutes at the hardware store and half an hour outside with various power tools and there it was! A custom made clothes rack which is easy to take apart so that I can lug it around markets and in and out of the car with ease.

Lately though I’ve been feeling like it needed something to catch the eye of the passers-by, something that could be removed so that I could still take it apart at the end of the day. In the ten minutes between finishing sewing and Little coming home from his playdate I made some wee labels and was utterly taken with them! I thought I’d share.

The foundation of the disc is foam board, cadged from an office cleanout years ago that has been sitting waiting to be repurposed. It’s light and easy to cut with a craft knife so it fitted the bill perfectly. After cutting a circle out of it, I then cut a circle of fabric 3cm larger to cover it with, and another 2cm smaller to put on the back to hide my ATROCIOUS glue-gunning skills.

 

double sided tape holds the backing on steady to glue, once the front has been glued on "neatly". Ha ha.

 

 

if you don't have a love/hate relationship with your gluegun, you're doing it wrong.

All that was left to do after this was to stick the paper doily to the front of the disc; at $2 for a pack of 60, it doesn’t get much more economical than that. I used a normal gluestick for this, partially because the paper doilies are super dainty and thin and partly because there is only so much hot glue one’s fingers should have to be subjected to per sitting.

all finished, on location and looking lovely at the Birkenhead Artisan Market

 

After I had made these, I started thinking about how cute and easy they would be to use as wall decorations too – different colours and sizes and fabrics, with doilies or without, appliqued motifs, hand painted, the options are endless. I think I might make some more to sell and see what happens at next months’ markets . . . there’ll need to be some serious brushing up on the art of glue-gunning first though!

 

j xx

I heart hearts.

You know those days where nothing really specifically seems to go wrong, but nothing really goes right either? I had one yesterday. The day where you rely a little too much on the good old Monsters Inc dvd to entertain a hot, sticky, grumpy child, the project you’re working on just doesn’t quite come out how you planned (chevron plackets and tired eyes DO NOT MIX WELL), and your diet of a mocha-latte and a handful of choc chip biscuits comes back to bite you mid-afternoon in the form of a massive sugar hangover.

Advice from friends after a lengthy facebook vent pointed out that I needed to put down the scissors, stop freaking out and give in to the blues, at least for the rest of the day, but I knew that to be able to sleep soundly I needed at least ONE thing to go satisfactorily. So -ironic as it is – I did what most crafters do when they feel upset, annoyed or otherwise wonky: I made stuff.

So after the wee one went to bed and with nary a thought towards margins, costings, or target markets, I collected up some of my favourite things (felt, polka dots and variegated yarn), and one of my favourite stitches (blanket), made a cuppa, put the cricket on, and just let whatever wanted to come out happen. What eventually happened was a string of felt heart bunting!

As uncharacteristically pink as this is for me, it makes me smile – thus serving its purpose! Will it come with me to market next week, with a few friends?? Possibly. I feel a week of puff-bunting coming on.