Kitchen Therapy


Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns

This Month’s Fresh From the Oven Challenge was Hot Cross Buns set for us by Sarah from Simply Cooked.

Year after year I buy hot cross buns, however my feelings towards these great smelling rolls are somewhat ambivalent.
I love raisin toast, I love cinnamon so why the ambivalence?
My only guess is that in bun form, there is too much crust!
I love the soft, tasty insides however the crusts on both these buns and raisin toast leave me feeling “meh”.
Nevertheless it’s tradition and each year I buy them.
However this year, the kids made it clear the only way they would go near a hot cross bun would be if I bought the choc chip version.
And I have to admit, our local Baker’s Delight store makes a great choc chip hot cross bun!

I’ve never made hot cross buns before and I knew as soon I saw the recipe that I wanted to try a chocolate version!

So with my little helper ready to go…

And Sarah’s recipe from this gorgeous little book…

We created Hot Cross Bun magic!

The house was filled with the most incredible, satisfying, cinnamon aroma.
The baking created a festive mood.
It signalled the arrival of Easter!

Hot Cross Buns
makes 24

4 cups  flour
190 ml lukewarm milk
125 ml lukewarm water
1 x 7gram package active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
65 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
55 g butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
200 grams choc chips 

orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon orange juice


1. Combine 125 grams of the flour, the milk, water, yeast, and 1 T sugar in a bowl and beat well.
2. Set in a warm place until frothy.
3. Melt butter then put aside to cool.
4. To the bowl containing the yeast mixture, add the remaining sugar, salt, melted butter and spices.
5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
6. Add another 125 grams of flour and beat for 5 minutes with an electric mixer.
7. Gradually add the remaining flour and choc chips.
8. Turn mixture onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (8 – 10 minutes). I chose to beat it with paddle attachment in my KitchenAid for the whole time.
9. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top of dough.
10. Cover with kitchen towel and set in a warm place until doubled in size.
11. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead lightly for 2 minutes.
12. Divide dough into 24 equal parts and shape into buns.
13. Place well apart on greased baking tray.
14. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (about 30 minutes).
15. Make a cross on each bun with a razor blade or sharp knife. (Which I forgot to do!)
16. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 15-20 minutes or until golden in colour.
17. Cool on wire rack.
18. To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients.
19. Drizzle over buns once they have cooled in a cross design.


Puff Pastry Breadsticks and Twists

“Why did they have to taste sooo good?!”
My husband moaned as he sat there clutching his stomach, feeling sick from overeating (again)!
But wait it gets better…
I was trying to come up with a title for my post and he suggested ‘sex on a stick’!

What can I say? He really did like these… his favourite was the sweet chilli twist.

I really wanted long puff pastry straws however the puff pastry sheets that are readily available from Woolworths would have been barely finger length once folded so I decided to use two sheets.

I had three different fillings, so divided the 24cm sheets into 8cm thirds…

 I wanted to try the recipe as Dorie intended with Dijon mustard.
However I was in the mood to play so I also tried an olive tapenade which she suggested as a ‘Bonne Idee’ and the hot sweet chilli sauce we bought at this year’s Sydney Easter Show made by the Chilli Factory.

I smeared on a generous dollop of each topping…

Then topped them with the other pastry sheet.
Since each strip was 8cm long and I was going for long and lean sticks I decided to cut each portion into 2cm strips.

My gorgeous boy wanted to help so he got the job of ‘painting’ each strip with the beaten egg “just like at school!”

Next we topped the mustard strips with poppy seeds, the tapenade sticks with sesame seeds and the sweet chilli one’s with cheese…

The we got real fancy and decided to twist the sweet chilli straws…

After 25 mins in the oven, rotating the trays half way, the final product was truly amazing!

I really liked the mustard and tapenade straws. They tasted so satisfyingly good!
(And I already mentioned my husband loved the sweet chilli one’s!)

I made the gourgeres as well, I joined the French Fridays with Dorie Group a few weeks late and really wanted to make these.

I took the left overs to my parents to save my husband from himself!

To have a look at a range of fillings and techniques used by the other members of French Fridays with Dorie, just click here!


Ham, Cheese & Chive Muffins and Bread

I decided to make a kid friendly version of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe!

Actually, I made the bread to start with and was a little hesitant about the cheese. I used Gruyere and Emmenthal.
The smell that greeted me when I opened the packets was… well… bad!
But I’m glad I persevered.
Once the bread was in the oven, the smell changed and it really surprised me that something that started off so stinky could change so much!
I really did think that there was no saving this baby and had written it off, but suddenly, as the new smell filled the kitchen I felt hope!
I couldn’t wait to taste it and see if it was as good as it smelled.

And you know what? It was really, really good…
I swapped Dorie’s chives and walnuts for ham and shallots in an attempt to make it more tempting to the kids.
But I was enough of a realist to know that while the kids were encouraging, they would like it way more with a good dose of cheddar cheese.
So back to the kitchen and this time I dumped the Gruyere and Emmenthal for a packet of “4 cheese blend”! (It’s a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses).
I know what you’re thinking… Classy!
Hey, it worked! The kids loved them!

If you want to see many more exciting and varied versions of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe click here!



Challah Bread – Fresh From the Oven

This month’s Fresh From The Oven challenge was traditional Jewish Challah Bread!
It was hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen.

Below is the recipe, copied straight from Dom’s post.


Braided Challah Bread
1 sachet (or 7 grams) easy blend dried yeast
1tsp clear honey
8fl oz lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
16oz plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs lightly beaten – in separate bowls – one for the mix and one for glazing
Poppy seed or sesame seeds (optional)

Combine the yeast, honey, milk and butter, stir and leave for 15mins to dissolve
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and one of the beaten eggs.  Stir to make a dough. (It will be very sticky and will definitely need extra flour for kneading)
Knead till smooth and elastic (a good 15 mins) then transfer to a clean bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.
Grease a baking sheet. Knock back the dough and divide into 3 equal pieces.  Roll to shape each piece into a long strip for plaiting. 

Lay 2 of the strips over the third to make a star shape and plait from the centre, tucking the ends under.  Do this on the baking sheet, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 mins. 

Brush with egg and bake in a hot oven at 190 for 35 – 40 mins or until golden and sounds hollow if you tap it.

I’ve never  had Challah Bread before and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make!
Dom’s instructions were great and, for what felt like very little effort, I managed to turn out this baby…

The kids came home from school and wanted to know what the great smell was?
I showed them the bread and told them excitedly “I made it! Cool, huh?”
They just rolled their eyes, patted me on the back and said “Sure you did mum…”
And then happily loaded the slices of hot fresh bread with butter and jam!

I glowed with satisfaction the entire weekend! Plaited challah bread! Thanks Dom!


Fresh From The Oven – Khrushchev Rolls

After I came across a recipe for Kiflice, I joined Fresh From the Oven.
A monthly baking group.

I was ready and excited to learn! You see, I love bread recipes but avoid them. Like the plague. Not sure why!
A habitual fear of yeast?!
Nevertheless, it was a habit and a fear I was prepared to face and work through!
Cos I love bread!
(Unlike my crazy fear of snakes that I have decided does not need to be addressed. Ever.)


The challenge was Khrushchev Rolls by Mushitza (click to see recipe).

I made the dough very late one night after another hectic, school holiday day at the beach with all the kids and their friends… (and that’s just half of them, the other half were riding the waterslides around the corner!)

After our 8 hour day at the beach we were exhausted.
However, I was determined to participate in this month’s challenge and psyched myself up to bake!
I began… and within minutes it was over!
The dough was made and resting in the fridge overnight!

I was thrilled with how easy it was and convinced myself I must have messed it up and surely missed something in my bleary eyed enthusiasm!

The next day I wasn’t expecting much.

My first batch I rolled around a thin beef sausage.

We ate these for lunch.
I put all the sauces out for the kids, who were happy to eat the ‘sausage rolls’.
I found that the sauce detracted from the wonderful taste of the bread!
The dough smelled amazing while baking and it tasted too good to hide under any sauce flavouring.

For the rest of the dough, I followed the cutting and rolling style of the Kiflice.

I filled half with crumbed goat’s feta…

And the rest with Nutella…

I rolled them up. Baked them…

And for such little effort what an amazing result.
I can’t recommend the flavour of the pastry enough.
The smell and taste was so good, the kids actually fought over them (especially the Nutella ones).

The following day we had a futsal gala day and my only regret was not making enough of these to feed the team.

And the younger sibling (supporters) that get dragged around to watch their older brothers!

With school around the corner, I will definitely be making batches of these rolls to put in lunch boxes and have ready for after school snacks.


Golden Cheesy Bread Rolls (Kiflice)

“Until you know that life is interesting – and find it so – you haven’t found your soul.” – Geoffrey Fisher

Why does baking feel so incredibly satisfying and nourishing to the mind and the soul?

Or is that just me?

I get excited finding and planning my next cooking project, buying the ingredients and then carving out the time to play!

I wrote about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his studies about being in what he calls “flow”. Being engrossed in an activity that causes time to disappear, our problems and worries to melt away and we are no longer aware of our surrounding other than as they related to what we are doing. Being engaged in an activity that both challenges us and rewards us, an activity that gives us a sense of accomplishment and improvement, this is his definition of happiness.

Given this definition, then baking, cooking, creating something from scratch, is so wonderfully important to me because it makes me happy!

It’s as simple as that!

Could there be any better reason?!

Making these kiflice, which are Serbian bread rolls, brought back so many childhood memories, they made me feel closer to my Serbian dad who is in rehabilitation after suffering a heart attack and a stroke and they helped me feel closer to my heritage and my family!

Amazing that these little golden bread rolls could do so much!

I saw them when they were featured on FoodPress by Things We Make and followed their link to Maja from Cooks and Bakes who posted her recipe in Serbian and English!
They wouldn’t leave my thoughts and I knew I had my next baking project!

I made them with feta and they turned out magnificent! These little cheese rolls brought happiness not just to me but also my dad!
I’m already planning my next batch with fried leeks and goat’s cheese feta!

As the quote from Geoffrey Rush says, I hope you find that special something which makes your life interesting and in turn find your soul!

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Cafe Style Banana Bread!

Love this Banana Bread!

It tastes just like the banana bread that can be bought in many of the nicer cafes around Sydney.
I add an extra banana to what the recipe calls for, it makes it moister and richer in flavour.
(The last time we made it with the kids we threw in an extra two bananas to what the recipe called for and it came out pretty wet and gooey, however by the next day it tasted fantastic!)

Don’t know about you but we always end up with mangy leftover bananas!
Since I’ve purchased the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook I actually get off on watching the last few bananas turn spotty and brown.
I feel like Nigella, the Domestic Goddess herself, turning leftover waste into something magnificent!

It is so easy to make, my almost 3-year-old son Jake, helps me measure all the ingredients and then I hand them over to him and he adds them in!
Seriously easy and delicious. The entire loaf is gone by the next day!

The Ingredients

270g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
200g peeled bananas, mashed (200g measures about two bananas and I throw in an extra one as I like it more moist).
280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger (I never add this)
140g unsalted butter, melted

23x13cm loaf tin


1. Preheat the over to 170 degrees celsius.

2. Grease and line tin with baking paper.

2. Put the sugar and eggs in a mixer and beat until well mixed

3. Add the bananas and mix.

4. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda, cinnamon and ginger (if you are using it) to the mixture. Mix it thoroughly until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the egg mixture. 


5. Pour in the melted butter and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over with a knife. Bake for about 1 hour or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.