Hi everyone! Hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Easter Sunday. I thought I’d share these recipes I’ve been making over the last couple of days. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making all these goodies and I hope you like them as much as I do!

Following on from my successful bread baking last week, I decided to try my luck at making some hot cross buns. Hot cross buns are one of my favourite things, especially toasted and spread with lashings of butter!

Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Hot Cross Buns (vegan, makes 16, adapted from this Baking Mad recipe)

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  • 625 grams of strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 75 grams of golden caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tbsp of dried yeast
  • 100g of raisins
  • 2 chopped apples (I used a golden delicious and a braeburn)
  • 50 grams of vegan spread
  • 100mls of unsweetened soy milk
  • For the crosses on top – 3 tbsp of plain flour mixed with water to form a paste

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and spices together in a bowl. In a jug, mix the raisins with 50mls of boiling water, 100mls of cold water and the dried yeast. Leave somewhere warm for 10 – 15 minutes until the surface has become frothy. While the yeast is activating melt the vegan spread over a low heat and add the soy milk. Add the spread and soy milk mix, the yeast, water and raisins and the chopped apples to the flour and mix until it begins to form a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes – don’t worry about the bits of apple falling out, just smoosh them back in ;-) Divide the kneeded dough into 2 and roll each piece into a sausage shape. Cut into 8 equal sized pieces and nip the ends to form a bun shape, then place the buns on a greased baking sheet (you’ll need two sheets) Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover lightly with cling film and leave some where warm until they have doubled in size (mine took about two hours).

Pre heat the oven to 200c. Make up your plain flour paste and pour into a small plastic bag. Snip the end off and pipe on your crosses. Bake the buns for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown, they should sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warm or toasted spread generously with vegan butter and jam:

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These were just amazing! They tasted absolutely wonderful and so much better than shop bought ones. Absolutely worth the extra effort! Thanks to Maria for the tip about soaking the raisins in with the yeast, I think it made them extra plump and juicy :-)

For my next recipe I wanted to use up some frozen puff pastry sheets I’ve had since Christmas. I decided to make this very simple but delicious recipe to take to my parents for our family get together this afternoon:

Lazy Courgette and Pesto Tart (serves 4, can be vegan if using vegan pasty and pesto)

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  • 1 sheet of ready made puff pastry defrosted (check that your puff pastry is vegan if needed)
  • 2 tbsp ready made pesto (again, use vegan pesto if desired)
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • Fresh basil to serve

Pre heat your oven to 220c. Lay the pastry sheet on to some greased foil or directly onto a baking sheet. You may want to roll the pastry out so that its slightly bigger and thinner. Spread the pesto onto the pastry leaving a 1 cm gap around the edge so the pastry can puff up. Finely slice your courgettes into thin rounds and layer on top of the pesto. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the pasty has become golden brown. Scatter with chopped basil and serve immediately or allow to cool and serve cold.

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I just made half of the recipe above and used the other piece of pastry to make something for the carnivores – a tomato, ham, mushroom and cheese tart. This tasted really good too, the richness of the pastry was nicely complemented by the fresh tasting pesto and courgettes. To take along with the tarts, I also wanted to make some cupcakes! I’d booked marked this lovely straightforward recipe from Sharon’s blog and decided to slightly amend it to make it a little lower in sugar (my Grandma is diabetic) using more whole grain flour and xylitol instead of some of the sugar. I also wanted to make a rich decadent tasting icing like a ganache (which is traditionally made with cream and melted chocolate) and came up with the idea of using the ultimate healthy secret ingredient!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Secret Ingredient Chocolate Ganache (makes 12 cupcakes, adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff Vegan Chocolate Cake)

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  • 1 1/4 cups of spelt / whole meal flour
  • 1/2 cup of plain white flour
  • 3 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup xylitol (I used perfect sweet brand)
  • 1/4 cup unrefined caster sugar (or more xylitol)
  • 1/3 cup rapeseed oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre heat the oven to 180c or 350F. Sift the flours, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Combine the zylitol, sugar and oil the add the soy milk and vanilla extract. Pour the wet mix into the dry and stir until just combined. Fill your cupcake cases 3/4 full with the mixture and bake for 18 – 20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool before icing.

Secret ingredient chocolate ganache icing (will top 12 cupcakes generously)

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

In a food processor blend the first 3 ingredients until smooth. Melt the chocolate chips and add the melted chocolate to the food processor to combine with the other ingredients. Use immediately or transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until the ganache has firmed up. 

To ice the cakes – you could use the ganache in a piping bag but I just used a small flat spatula to swirl it on top of each cake before decorating with some rice paper sugar butterflies:

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These cupcakes turned out so well! They have a moist, dense, chocolately sponge and the ‘ganache’ tastes suitably creamy despite being diary free!

I think those hot cross buns are going to become an Easter tradition! Do you have a favourite recipe for Easter / Spring celebrations?