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April 2011

Hot Cross Buns


Many of the customs associated with Easter have passed into common secular usage. For example decorating Easter eggs is popular amongst all children and the Easter Bunny has hopped across all religious divides.

So it is with Hot Cross buns, traditionally sold and eaten on Good Friday. The cross on the top is symbolic of the Crucifixion, the third day after which Christ is said to have risen.Making the sign of the Cross on all baked goods , not just for Easter was a superstitious practice ( to prevent spoiling) from early times in the west as this ditty reveals:

“Good Friday comes this month—the old woman runs
With one or two a-penny hot cross buns,
Whose virtue is, if you believe what’s said,
They’ll not grow mouldy like the common bread.”

The cross is marked out with bits of pastry or sugar or glaze.Strangely enough local bakers do not produce hot cross buns and so I am forced to make them at home.

The problem is what to do with a whole batch of them when there aren't too many people at home to eat them??

I could, of course, share them with my neighbours, as eating them together is supposed to engender friendship,  especially if the following words are repeated :

"Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be"

Let me assure you goodwill is required in my immediate vicinity.

After a couple of members in our society have decided to build themselves sheds for their cars on common land, without so much as a by your leave, we are left with a fait ( or should I say Fate) accompli. It is my fate to look at the ugly structures plastered around .

These people, much like a large percentage of the populace, seem to think laws and rules do not apply to them and are only made for others. This lot , like other crooks and corrupt people in India, have built their structures and are waiting to see what the rest of their neighbours will do. They depend, quite correctly , on the great tolerance ( or is it laziness) of the average Indian, to allow them to continue enjoying a privilege they have no right to nor have paid for.

This is a cause of great heartburn. But several publications on health warn me, such feelings only hurt the sufferer."Anger burns you up". "Forgive  or cancer will get you."

I am trying. Maybe I will share the hot cross buns I have made with all and sundry !? It would be helpful if my neighbours understood the meaning as well ...Hmmmm.

I don't think the Easter  Bunny has crossed over to their side though.Or if they met the dear thing they would probably make it into rabbit stew.


3 cups white flour

1 cup milk

2 tbsp butter

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

17 gms fresh compressed  yeast or 1 pkt dried instant yeast

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp raisins

2 tbsp chopped candied orange peel

1 egg.

Heat up the milk and add butter, sugar, cinnamon ,candied peel and raisins. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. When it has become lukewarm add the yeast and mix till incorporated. Now mix a beaten egg into the liquid .Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the flour a quater cup at a time till the dough forms a ball. Knead well.

Place in an oiled bowl , smear a bit of oil on top of the dough and leave covered in a warm place to ri

After an hour or when double in size punch down and knead for a minute. Divide into 16 bits and roll into rounds. Place on a greased baking sheet  Using a knife cut across. Let the buns stand to rise covered for another hour or till doubvle in size. .Brush with milk and sprinkle some sugar on the top.

Bake at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes. Remove and cool.


Prawn Pulao



400 gms rice

1/2 kg prawns, large

1 tsp haldi/turmeric

1.5 tsp Salt

4 tbsp oil or ghee

1 tbsp cashewnuts

4 medium onions sliced

6 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp red chilli

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp sugar

3 one inch sticks of cinnamon

6 cardamom

1 " ginger ground

2 cups cocnut milk

2 green chillies


Wash and soak rice for 15 minutes. Rub the prawns with salt and turmeric and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp  oil/ghee and saute the cashewnuts till golden brown.Remove.Saute the onions next. When soft and brown add the garlic,prawns, red chilli powder, cumin and 1 tsp sugar.

Saute for a few minutes and then remove from fire.

Heat three tbsp oil in a pan. Add the cardamon, cinnamon,rice, salt , ginger and 1 tsp sugar. Fry for a while till rice gets a bit brown.Now add the prawns and coconut milk. Add enough water to cover the rice in one inch of water or measure one digit above the level of the rice.

Bring water to the boil. Now cover tight and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes.Turn off heat. Keep standing for 10 minutes without removing lid.

Garnish with finely sliced green chilli and cashewnuts.


Finger Millet and Whole Wheat Bread


The experimentation with millets continues. Today I made a bread of 1/4 Finger Millet and 3/4 whole wheat with fresh yeast.

I baked two loaves, one in the round and the other a standard loaf shape.The round one rises better in the pan and is softer.

Home made bread is so head and shoulders above commercial bread and actually worth eating !

Here is the recipe I used:


3 1/2 cups whole wheat

1 cup Timbaktu Organic Finger millet flour

2 cups warm water

34 gms fresh compressed yeast.( equivalent to 2 packets dried yeast)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/3 cup Timbaktu Organic Peanut oil

2 tsps salt

1/2 cup brown sugar.

Dissolve 1 tablespoon of the brwon sugar in the warm water and then dissolve the yeast in it. Let stand for a few minutes. Now add the oil to the water.

In a bowl mix  3 cups of the the wheat flour ,1 cup of the finger millet flour, the salt and sugar. Slowly add the water and yeast mixture and gather up into a ball of dough. Knead for 15 minutes by hand, slowly adding additional flour if required till the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Let the dough stand to rise in an oiled bowl. Turn once after oiling. Cover and keep in a warm place for an hour or till doubled in bulk. Punch down and divide trhe dough into two. Roll out one half into a long rectangle and roll up into a 3" x 8 " loaf turning the ends under. .Make the other half into a round. Place both into oiled tins and cover. Let rise till doubled in bulk for 1 hour.

Bake in preheated oven (200 C) for 15 minutes. reduce heat to 175C and continue to bake for half an hour more.

Remove from oven and tip out on racks to cool.

It taste yummy with a bit of butter and a slice of cheese.

This bread freezes well.