one a penny

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It’s been a while since I got my bake on, but recently I’ve been baking like a ninja, so I thought I’d share my ninjaness with y’all. Yes, it’s a word. Really? Ok, but it totally should be.

Firstly, I was kickstarted into action by Kate Davies over on Needled, who posted a deceptively simple recipe for hazelnut shortbread. I say deceptively, because while it doesn’t sound complicated or particularly interesting, the results are frankly delicious.

My second inspiration was my sister-in-law, whose beautiful cupcakes I posted a photo of recently. While I have made cupcakes in the past, my decorating skills have left something to be desired. As in, by the time I get that far, I’m running out of steam and just want to eat the damn things already. However, Allie’s stunning efforts shamed and spurred me on to create something that people would ‘ooh’ over, namely these Easter-themed concoctions. There was ‘ooh’-ing a-plenty, much to my secret egotistical delight.

The basic vanilla cupcake recipe, chocolate icing and lemon icing were all from the Great British Bake-Off cookbook, which I intend to work my way steadily through. The cupcake recipe is the best one I’ve tried, as the cakes bake evenly and rise without exploding into mini Matterhorns as other recipes have tended to do, rendering icing them tediously precarious.

The pinnacle of all this industry was the hot cross buns I made that were supposed to have been Nick’s Easter project before he ran out of time cooking the traditional lamb (albeit untraditionally for Good Friday’s supper rather than Easter Sunday’s lunch). These came from the March issue of Jamie magazine and while somewhat intimidating to me, being proper yeast-based dough that required proving not once but twice, I thoroughly enjoyed making them. It was necessarily a lengthy process (although I confess to cheating Nigella-style, using the Kenwood mixer to do the kneading for me as I am a clumsy, unconfident two-handed kneader), that took me from early to very late evening, with breaks for food, drink and sociability. Once the dough was kneaded, then proved, I shaped, made and adorned with crosses, proved again, egg-washed, baked and finally glazed my buns, by which time the entire ground-floor was filled with glorious spicy, fruity aromas and I was ready for my breakfast, even though it was most certainly bedtime. They were truly delicious the next morning toasted and spread liberally with butter, although should I ever make them again I would definitely try them warm from the oven.

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