Earl Grey Buns


 
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.
_An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.

This week has been kinda weird. We have had three weeks straight of visitors. Which has been amazing, particularly as 10 days of that was my Dad! We had the best time ever. The downside though, is that going back to reality isn't really a whole lot of fun, particularly with Dad leaving. I am TERRIBLE at saying goodbye to him. 

 I have been struggling with really bad homesickness the last year or so. Like, REALLY bad homesickness. Which is kind of strange and hard to explain, because living on the other side of the world is definitely finite for us, and plans are in place to move home in the next two years or so (When the L train shuts?). Something will set me off, and it becomes a pretty quick downward spiral to being a non-productive shit. I find leaving New Zealand super tricky, and the slightest thing at home or in my life here can trigger it, which in turn triggers this weird anxiety. While staying home and hiding is the easiest option, it's not productive nor helpful for the situation. I have found that keeping busy, and sticking to a really strict routine helps. A 7am gym class that I force myself to go to regardless of how shitty I am feeling. Dinner at approximately the same time each evening. A time period that vaguely resembles a bedtime. All these little things really help to keep me grounded. And tired enough that I sleep well. 

That and friends here in the city, who are always down to hang out! Living in a big city and working from home can get mighty lonely, but it seems a lot of us are in the same boat. I have met some incredible people through the food community, who have become IRL friends as well as instagram friends. Special shoutout to Jill, who has let me adopt myself into her family, and is always there with the hugs, cats, delicious food and the comfiest couch ever when it is needed. We have the best time totally trashing her kitchen, and some happy messes always come out at the end of the day! 

A plus side of staying at home a lot is that you can obsessively recipe test. These buns were made in my kitchen on three different occasions throughout the week. The best. I dunno about you, but earl grey buns three times in a week is definitely something that I can get behind.

If you haven't had earl grey in a baked good / dessert before, you are seriously missing out. Unless you have a serious aversion to the flavour (mum reckons it tastes like swamp water?!?), it is a lovely addition, which takes the flavour profile up a notch. Personally I think it should be added to everything that can be infused - does it have milk or water in it? Yup? Infuse with earl grey? Does it have coffee? Yup? Sub it out with strong tea! I also like to add Bergamot extract to help enhance the flavour a little more. 

I incorporated the earl grey into these in a few ways. I made an earl grey infused sugar, which went into the dough, filling and glaze. The milk in the recipe was infused with tea, which lightly coloured and flavoured the dough and glaze. I also added a little bergamot extract into the dough, which just helped pick the flavour up a notch. Even with the earl grey in all these forms, it's still not a kick-in-the-face flavour, just nice and subtle. The filling melts down to make a sticky earl grey situation at the bottom of the buns, which is just the best ever. Perfect straight out of the oven, with a hot drink. 

I baked these in a 10" cast iron skillet, but they would work just as well in a lined cake tin or baking dish. I rolled out a 21 x 16" rectangle of dough, which resulted in a fairly long, skinny roll, which yielded 10 buns. If you wanted these a little bigger, I would make the rectangle of dough a little smaller (to make them a bit fatter), and cut into fewer pieces. Either way you can't go wrong. 

If you were wanting to make these ahead of time, you can either do the first proof in the fridge and then roll out, fill, roll out and proof the next day, or you could get them to the filled and rolled stage, then do the second proof overnight. Just be sure to give them an hour or two on the bench to warm up slightly, and make sure they have puffed up and expanded in size before baking.

 

 

Earl Grey buns
- Makes 9-10 buns -


Earl Grey sugar
1 cup (200g) sugar
2 Tbsp loose-leaf earl grey tea

Bun dough
1 2/3 cup (400ml) whole milk
3 Tbsp loose leaf tea
6 Tbsp Earl grey sugar
2 1/4 tsp (7g, 1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups (435g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 Tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp bergamot extract (optional)

Filling
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
1/2 cup earl grey sugar

Glaze
3 Tbsp Earl grey infused milk (reserved from dough)
1 Tbsp Earl grey sugar
2 cups (250g) icing sugar

 

- PROCESS -

EARL GREY SUGAR

Place sugar and loose leaf tea in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the tea is finely ground and well combined with the sugar. Remove and set aside. Alternatively you can grind the tea separately in a mortar and pestle, then grind briefly with the sugar.

BUN DOUGH

In a small pan, heat the milk to just shy of a simmer. Add the loose leaf tea, and steep for 2 minutes. Strain well, squeezing as much liquid from the tea as possible. Measure out 1 cup of the infused milk, and return to the pan or a small microwave safe bowl. Set the rest aside for use in the glaze. Re-warm the milk to approx 110˚f / 45˚c, either over the stove or in 5 second increments in the microwave. Remove from the heat and add 2 Tbsp of the earl grey sugar, and the yeast. Stir to combine, and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. 

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 4 Tbsp of the earl grey sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the milk and yeast mixture and egg, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes to combine. Add the melted butter and bergamot extract, and mix on low-medium for 10 minutes, stopping occasionally to clear the dough off the hook. The dough should be smooth and soft. Place in a lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draught-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

Note: You can mix the dough by hand - add the ingredients in the same order, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface after the butter has been incorporated, and knead by hand for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and soft. Try to avoid adding more flour if possible. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle approximately 21" x 16". (55cm x 40 cm). Spread the soft butter all over the surface of the dough using an offset spatula, leaving approximately a 1 inch border around the edge of the dough. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and earl grey sugar, and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the buttered dough, pressing down lightly to adhere. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll the dough up tightly, pausing occasionally to tighten the roll. 

Cut the roll into 9-10 even slices (I like to measure the length and divide it by the number of pieces you want). Arrange in a lightly greased 10 inch (25cm) skillet, 10 inch cake tin, or 9" x 13" (23cm x 33cm) baking tin, leaving a small amount of space between each for spreading. Cover lightly with plastic, and leave in a warm place until increased in size, and the dough bounces back slightly when pressed with a finger. approximately 1 hour. Alternatively, you can do the second proof in the fridge overnight. During the last 20 minutes or so of rising, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Bake the rolls for 30-35 minutes, or until golden, and you can see the sugar starting to bubble up. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before glazing. 

GLAZE

In a medium bowl, combine the icing sugar, earl grey sugar and infused milk, and mix until smooth. Drizzle over the buns - you may not need all of the glaze, depending on preference. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container - they are best warmed slightly before eating. 

An earl grey infused dough, filled with an earl grey and brown sugar mixture, baked until caramelized, then finished with an earl grey infused glaze. A slightly different take on the classic cinnamon roll.

Oven fries with truffle aioli


 
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Another truffle recipe! While we used most of the truffle on the pasta, there was still a teeny bit left! I had a truffle aioli a long time ago and it was BOMB. Truffle fries are fairly common - they tend to be parmesan and truffle oil They are pretty awesome too. But there's something about fresh truffle in aioli that really makes me get excited. This is no different really. We have been eating this aioli for a few years now, so I figured it was only polite to share it with you, as it really deserves to be out in the open! I have yet to find a nice Jar aioli here in america, and find that making my own tends to be way quicker and easier, not to mention way more tasty!

 I use a stick blender to make aioli, and to be honest I don't even bother with slowly adding the oil in order to help it emulsify - I just dump all the ingredients in, hit it with the stick blender, then taste and adjust if necessary. I find the stick blender the best way to make aioli - I only like to make a little bit at a time, meaning the food processor is too big, and my blender tends to get too excited and heats it up too much as it is blending, which causes it to split. I have totally also made it by hand before, which takes a lot of whisking, but in a pinch, is still totally worth it. If you make it by hand, add the oil a tablespoon at a time, whisking hard, until it starts to emulsify, then slowly trickle the oil in. 

I added fresh truffle to this aioli, but it would be just as nice with truffle oil - sub out a tablespoon of the regular oil for truffle oil. It is also amazing without the truffle, which is how we usually eat it - if you are leaving out the truffle, add in a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. It's just the best, in all of it's forms. You can add herbs to it, use roasted garlic, the list goes on. 

And then there are fries. I never thought I could make super crispy delicious oven fries until I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. And now we are hooked. They are perfect as a side for burgers, or just as their own with gravy. I usually use Russet or Idaho potatoes, and generally use one per person, which makes it super easy to scale. The trick to the perfect fries is cooking them twice - you boil them until they are just beginning to cook, then pop them in the oven on high heat to finish off and make them amazing and crispy. I loaded these ones up with parmesan, which complimented the truffle aioli perfectly. 

Whatever form you choose to make the aioli, you should make this. It's the best. 

 

 

Oven fries with truffle aioli
- Serves 3-4 -

Fries recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

Fries
3-4 medium Idaho or russet potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Flaky salt for finishing
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Truffle Aioli
1 medium egg
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
freshly shaved truffle to taste, or 1 Tbsp truffle oil
1 cup neutral oil such as rice bran, canola, or sunflower

Note: If you are not making the truffle version of the aioli, add in a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, and increase the lemon to the juice of one lemon. 

- PROCESS -

FRIES

Preheat the oven to 450˚f / 230˚c. 

Peel potatoes, and cut into one inch wide fries. Place into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Turn the element to high, and cover the pot with a lid. Cook the fries for 10 minutes, removing from the heat once the 10 minutes is up (They may not necessarily come to a boil). During the last few minutes of cooking time, add 3 Tbsp oil to a baking sheet, and place in the oven to heat the oil.

Once the potatoes have reached their 10 minutes, strain through a colander. Place onto the preheated baking tray, and toss lightly to coat in oil, adding more if necessary. Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt. 

Bake the fries for 30-35 minutes, checking and tossing every 5 minutes after the 20 minute mark to ensure that they are evenly golden. 

Remove from the oven, season well with salt, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 

TRUFFLE AIOLI

Stick blender method: Place all ingredients in a stick blender friendly container. Blend on high, moving the end of the blender up and down the container to help combine ingredients, until thick and emulsified. Taste and adjust salt / lemon levels if necessary. 

Blender method: Place egg, salt, lemon juice and truffle in a high powered blender, and pulse to combine. Turn the power onto medium, and slowly drizzle the oil into the blender in a very fine stream, until the aioli begins to emulsify. Add the remainder of the oil slowly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. 

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Hot Cross Buns


 
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It's almost Easter! Which means that, by default, the weather is obliged to sort its shit out and give us something that resembles spring. It also means allll of the easter foods! In America I have learnt that this means marshmallow peeps, cadbury mini eggs, and colouring actual chicken eggs (feel free to correct me if i'm wrong here, i'm just going off what I've seen!). In New Zealand, it is all chocolate eggs of all kinds, chocolate bunnies, and hot cross buns! Hot cross buns are the taste of most people's childhood back home. I also have grand plans to put together some sort of easter box - I have loads of easter egg moulds, so watch this space. It's likely to get messy.

There are loads of different variations - they are sometimes done with chocolate, or with mixed fruit. I prefer the ones without the mixed peel in them, so have left it out for this recipe too, but go for it an add it in if you want! These can be made in a morning - the proof time is about two hours total, so perfect for morning tea, or a late breakfast. They are also awesome the next day for breakfast, warmed up in the microwave and loaded up with butter. 

Big ups to my friend Lisa for letting me snake her pastry school recipe - the measurements for this recipe are in grams, which I honestly prefer. If you haven't gotten one already, a scale is probably one of the best $30 investments you can make in your kitchen. I halved the original recipe, so if you wanted extra bunz, by all mean double it!

The crosses for these are a choux pastry. I probably didn't thin mine out enough so they didn't turn out quite as well as they could have, so make sure they are a nice pipeable consistency! 

Ps: I had issues finding both sultanas and mixed spice here in NYC, so used flamed raisins in the place of sultanas, and made my own mixed spice using this recipe (I omitted the mace). 

 

 

Hot Cross Buns
- Makes 8 buns -

Buns
360g (2 1/2 cups) bread flour
40g (3 Tbsp) sugar
22g (2 Tbsp) active dry yeast
90g (90ml) lukewarm water
90g (90ml) lukewarm milk
7g (1/2 tsp) salt
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
100g Raisins or Sultanas
45g dried currants

Crosses
50g (50ml) water
20g unsalted butter
pinch salt
pinch sugar
30g all-purpose flour
Enough milk to mix to a pipeable consistency. 

Simple Syrup
1/4 cup (60ml) water
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
 

- PROCESS -

BUNS

In a medium bowl, combine milk, water, 2 Tbsp sugar and yeast. Stir well, and leave for 5 minutes until foamy. 

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, or in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, spices, and the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Add the yeast mixture, and mix on low for 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and hook as required. Add the butter, and mix for a further 10 minutes on low, until the dough is soft and smooth. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the fruit in by hand. 

Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draught-free place until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. 

Knock back the dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. (I weigh the dough, and then divide the total weight by 8). Roll into balls, and arrange in a lightly greased baking dish, leaving a little room between each. If I am using a rectangular dish I tend to make 8 rolls, whereas if I am using a square tin I generally make 9. Lightly cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place for approximately an hour, until almost doubled in size, and the dough springs back slightly when poked with your finger. 

Preheat the oven to 220˚c / 430˚f. Pipe crosses onto the buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden. While the buns are baking, combine the water, sugar, and vanilla bean paste if using in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Using a pastry brush, glaze the buns with the syrup immediately after removing from the oven. 

CROSSES

In a small saucepan, heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour, and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and coming away from the edges. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until it reaches a pipeable consistency. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip, or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off.