Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh yeah. Easter.

I totally forgot to post about the two Nigella recipes I made at Easter. Woops.

I was supremely excited at the idea of baking Hot Cross Buns this year. Growing up, we always had supermarket hot cross buns around Easter (not necessarily on Good Friday, per the tradition). I loved them. Not that they tasted so great, but I loved them anyway. In general, I figure that anything that's okay store-bought is usually phenomenal when it's home made. Live and learn.

The spice mixture in Nigella's recipe piqued my interest immediately. Cardamom pods, clove, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger are a promising flavor base for just about anything. These are used to infuse melted butter. Sounds good. As I was cooking, I realized that the dough did not include sugar. At all. This alarmed me at the time, but I figured maybe the glaze would provide all necessary sweetness.

I was alarmed again when I saw that the dough is supposed to have a long, slow rise overnight in the fridge. I have never had luck with recipes that say the dough will rise cold. I've tried several, and they've never budged. However, calmed by Nigella's comment that you "need the patience to sit around while they rise and the faith to believe they will," I did not modify this as I've done my bagel recipe, by leaving the dough out for 2-3 hours, then putting it in the fridge overnight.

Suprise, surprise, the dough didn't move. Not one bit. The problem was not old yeast. I've baked bread with the same yeast since then, and it worked just fine.

I removed the bowl from the fridge in the morning and let it sit out all day, hoping it would spring into action once it warmed up. By 3 pm, it looked exactly the same as it did when I started.

Out of ideas, I proceeded with the recipe. I shouldn't have bothered.
I curse you, Buns.
These were hard, disgusting little hockey pucks. The dried fruit and bottoms of the buns burned when baked at the specified 425 degrees. Even if they'd risen perfectly and baked properly, the dough was nasty. It needed sugar. There was no spice flavor. Awful. Wrote "HORRID" with a big black X in my book. I tossed the entire batch in the trash.

After that disaster, I was nervous about bringing Easter Egg Nest Cake to my friend's house for Easter, as I'd never tested it. I'd already bought the ingredients, though, so decided to forge ahead. This cake is a flourless chocolate cake that is meant to crackle on the edges and sink in the middle. The sunken center is filled with chocolate whipped cream, then decorated with pastel candy eggs. SUPER CUTE.
Fortunately, this was delicious. Chocolate whipped cream might be my new favorite thing in the world. I could do without the candy eggs, but they do look cute. The cake vanished quickly. Charlie was angry that he didn't get a piece. (I offered. He didn't want any while it was available. As soon as we got home, he started asking for cake. GRRR.)

This one was a winner, and I'd definitely make it again.

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