In my last post – you can find here – I mentioned how ‘routine’ life has been of late. Not that it was, or is a bad thing, there are just times when you need to break the monotony of it all; don’t you think? Anyway, my chance to shake things up a little came last weekend when I was able to wave see-you-later to the family and head off to the ‘big smoke’ of Melbourne to attend the launch of Kidspot Voices of 2015 Masterclass. The whole trip I was excited, but a little nervous, so I cranked up the music and ‘Journey‘d’ my way down the highway – refusing to Stop Believing I was in for anything other than a great day – (if you are a teen of the 80’s or a fan of Scrubs, this reference should not be lost on you. If not, then do yourself a favour and click the link. Go on now, I can wait).
My in car warm up held true and I did indeed have a great day, I might even venture towards fantastic to be truly accurate. While I was a little pensive at first, wondering how many and who would be there, as crowds are not really my thing, my concerns soon melted away, as I started to see lots of familiar and friendly faces, all just as nervous and excited as me. It was like going to a work conference, except, well, I actually wanted to be there and you know, learn stuff!
As well as catching up with and meeting new bloggy friends, there were a lot of valuable take homes from the Masterclass – the main ones for me being – be authentic, be engaged and be consistent as a blogger. I need to work on my consistency, my approach to blogging has been conflicted at times, just like my good self, but I can and am working on that a little each day.
The extremely amazing Michelle from An Organised Life has written the most incredible wrap up of the event here if you want all the deets. So impressed Michelle!
What I loved most about the day was being among so many like minded folks, who are all so invested and passionate about what they do, working hard to achieve whatever goals they have set and enjoying the journey (boom-tish) along the way. The atmosphere was inspiring and has given me more tangible thoughts and ideas on what I can do to find that consistency I want from myself and my blog. A great day well spent indeed!
As for the naming of the Top 100 – wow, what a task it must have been for the Kidspot team – so much creative talent to choose from! I am in awe of those named as finalists and congratulate them all on their achievement as part of this event!
From left to right: Bec from The Plumbette and Styled by Bec and I. Soapbox bloggers giving us their insights. Em from Have a laugh on me, Amanda from Cooker and a Looker and oh look, that’s me. Lucy from Bake Play Smile and, ahhh me, again. Lunch – gluten free & delicious – and not me for a change!
Now … let’s talk sweet bread!
I love bread and all things bread related, especially those I make with my own hands. There is something very special about creating a soft silky dough, that comes alive as it rises and fills the house with warmth and comfort as it bakes and spreads it’s smell into every room.
The thing is, I have never been all that confident when working with yeast, it tends not to rise for me unfortunately, likely due to using out-of-date product – (dug out in from the back of the pantry when the urge to try again strikes), or killing it off with liquid that is too hot – (as according to J-man, my definition of ‘warm’ tends to be closer to boiling than cool). Oh, and don’t get me started on trying to use it with gluten free flour, that is a whole other beast I am yet to conquer even slightly. I had all but given up on making my own, until I had a huge win making these Spelt Hot Cross Buns earlier this year. I was pouting about missing out, so decided to give using yeast and spelt a go, which lead to discovering that I can make yeast rise, if I use a thermometer instead of my cast iron skin AND I can tolerate the small amount of gluten in spelt without suffering the debilitating symptoms that wheat based gluten causes my gut. Boo-yah and a hip-hip-hooray!
Since then I have been experimenting with bread baking with spelt, loaves and rolls, scrolls and buns. Then there are these – chocolate swirl sweet buns. I saw the original recipe on the ever inspirational Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to try and adapt them. And I did. And they are AMAZING!
From the dough right through, these buns are packed with flavour, laced with fresh, creamy lactose free milk and unsalted butter and rich bittersweet, stick to your teeth, delicious dark chocolate. They are decadent, indulgent and happy-making – just how going to the Voices launch made me feel. The swirling makes them look sensational and dramatic and you will be hooked from the first bite. Truly, you will.
Here’s how to make them;
- ½ cup lactose free full cream milk
- ¼ cup + a pinch of unrefined sugar
- 1 sachet (8 grams) active dry yeast
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 cups white spelt flour + a little more for bench work
- Good pinch sea salt
- 50 grams unsalted butter, room temperature + additional to grease muffin tin
- 50 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup unrefined sugar
- 200 grams (1 block) of 70% dark chocolate (dairy free if you can)
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons lactose free full cream milk
- Warm milk and a pinch of sugar - it needs be warm but not hot to the touch - about 1 minute in the microwave on high does it for me.
- Sprinkle yeast over milk and let stand for about 5 minutes, until foamy.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg and remaining ¼ cup sugar until well combined.
- Using a stand mixer, or large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt on low speed.
- Create a well, add egg mixture, then yeast mixture, mixing gently until combined.
- Add butter and mix until incorporated.
- Switch mixer to dough hook, or remove dough from bowl and knead gently.
- Spelt flour does not require much kneading, so about 3-5 minutes should do it.
- The dough will appear slightly sticky, but elastic - it will continue to firm up as it rises.
- Grease a large bowl and place dough in it.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour (or until doubled in size).
- Roughly chop dark chocolate.
- Using a food processor, pulsing chocolate with the salt, sugar, and cinnamon until the chocolate is very finely chopped.
- Add butter and pulse until combined.
- Set mixture aside.
- Generously butter a standard 12-muffin tin.
- Turn doubled dough onto a well-floured surface and gently deflate it with floured hands.
- Let it rest for another 5 minutes.
- Once rested, roll dough into a large rectangle, mine ended up about 30cm x 50cm & about 1 cm thick.
- Sprinkle the filling as evenly as you can over the surface.
- Gently, but tightly roll the dough back over the filling from one short end to the other, forming a log.
- Using a sharp serrated knife, gently saw segments off the log - about 2.5 cm each. zI used a ruler as I am terrible at cutting things evenly!
- Place each piece in a prepared muffin cup.
- Cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap & let them rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C
- Combine the egg & milk to create an egg wash.
- Brush this over the buns just before baking
- Bake buns for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and brown.
- Allow the buns to cool in the tin for as long as you can manage - (that was not long for me! - then gently turn them out onto a cooling rack using a knife or flat spatula.
So there you have it, my version of a gorgeous Deb Perelman recipe, Spelt Chocolate Swirl Buns, from my kitchen to yours. I hope you like them as much as we do!
BTW – I made two lots of dough, you know, just in case one failed, but they both worked, so I decided to fill the second dough with a combination of tangy lemon curd (about 4 tablespoons), lactose free cream cheese (about 125 grams) and a sprinkling of flaked almonds. Oh my, these are good too!
So, tell me, what’s your favourite Journey song? Come on, I know you have one! Ok, well, at least give me your favourite road trip rev up anthem.
Do do you have a baking nemesis you are struggling to overcome?
Cook! Eat! Enjoy! xx