tuscan rosemary buns

24 Mar 2024

Last year I saw some delicious looking Easter buns on the Flour and Stone
IG account. They were Nadine Ingram's adaptation of pan di ramarino, or Tuscan rosemary buns. Nadine in turn had been inspired by an Emiko Davies recipe, so I went straight to the source.

I do love hot cross buns but they are a little time consuming and this recipe was not. I was also intrigued by the use of savoury rosemary in a sweet bun, so I went to work slightly adapting the recipe along the way. Firstly I had to buy some rosemary as my rosemary plant died some time ago. I didn't have quite enough sultanas so I used some currants as well. I have to say that combination worked out so well, I would do that again.

I made the dough and did an overnight rise and the dough rose very high and handsome. When it came to scoring the dough, the razor blades I'd purchased for the task went missing, so I used a sharp knife instead. 

As orange and rosemary are natural partners I topped the buns with orange flavoured syrup. I was very keen to try one of the buns still warm from the oven. The buns were lightly sweet, fluffy, gently flavoured with rosemary and best of all delicious. I've made the buns a second time, using a combination of sultanas and dried blueberries, because I'd run out of currants, and they were equally delicious. I also purchased another pack of razor blades so I could score the buns. So much easier than using a serrated knife.

Here’s the recipe for you which makes 8 buns. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Tuscan rosemary buns - makes 8
80g sultanas or currants or a mix of both
1 Earl Grey teabag
100 mls boiling water
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
180 ml lukewarm milk or water or a mixture
30g caster sugar
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg lightly beaten, for glazing
Butter, to serve

Orange syrup
55g caster sugar 
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
20 mls water
60 mls orange juice

Place the sultanas, tea bag and 100mls boiling water in a bowl. Set aside for an hour or until fruit is plump. Drain well before using.

To infuse the oil, remove the leaves from one rosemary sprig, you should have about 5g, and chop finely. Place the olive oil into a small saucepan with the rosemary leaves and gently heat for a few minutes. Allow to cool completely.

ln a small bowl, combine the yeast with 60 mls of the warm milk and 1 tsp of the sugar. Leave covered for 10 minutes or so until a sponge has formed. Place the remaining sugar, the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture, the cooled oil and leaves and the remaining milk and using the dough hook mix until a soft dough has formed, about 5-7 minutes. Cover and leave for 20 minutes before doing a series of stretch and folds. Leave for a further 20 minutes covered in the bowl.

Place the dough onto a floured board and flatten into a rectangle. Remove the leaves from the second sprig of rosemary. Pat the sultanas dry and sprinkle over the dough along with the fresh rosemary leaves. Gently press the sultanas into the dough. Fold over corners of the dough to enclose the sultanas and rosemary and knead until evenly distributed. Form into a round, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and rest in a warm, draught-free place until doubled in size (about 1 hour). You could also cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for an overnight rise.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured board, then divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape into fist-sized buns and place on a lined baking sheet with 5cm or so space between each bun. Score the tops of the bun with a noughts-and-crosses grid using a very sharp knife or a razor blade. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place, for a further half hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, conventional. Brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg and bake at 200⁰C for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. While the buns are cooking, prepare the syrup. Place the sugar and orange rind in a small saucepan with the water and stir to dissolve. Add the orange juice then simmer for a few minutes until slightly thickened. When the buns are ready, brush the tops of the still warm buns with the syrup, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve with butter.

Like most breads, these are best eaten the day they are made but are excellent the following day toasted and served with butter and apricot jam.

Have a great Easter break and I'll see you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



raspberry bakewell slice

17 Mar 2024

Do you remember I made a cherry bakewell slice a few months ago. The bars were very tasty but they were topped with icing and I found them to be very sweet. I put the slice in the freezer and I did polish off the whole thing by myself over the course of some months, cutting the slice into tiny morsels.

I wanted to remake them in their original form, using raspberry jam in the filling and topped with flaked almonds. I adapted another Claire Ptak recipe I found here and made a smaller batch in a square 17cm tin. Claire suggests using a mixture of raspberry and strawberry jam in the filling however when I hunted through the fridge I found a pot of homemade rhubarb and raspberry jam which I used instead.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 8 bars. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Raspberry bakewell slice - makes 8 bars
125g plain flour
45g icing sugar
pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup berry jam

100g softened unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg and 1 yolk
50g ground almonds (I used a combination of blanched and natural meal)
50g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder

25g flaked almonds
75g fresh/frozen raspberries (optional)

Heat the oven to 180°C conventional. Grease and line a 17cm square tin with baking paper.

For the shortbread base, combine all the ingredients, except the jam, in a food processor and blitz until the mixture has just come together into a ball. Press the pastry evenly into the prepared tin then bake 
on the centre rack for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the base cool for 10 minutes before gently spreading the jam over the base.

For the topping, beat the butter and sugar well. Once creamy, add the extract and eggs, then beat well. Add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder just to combine. (I made the topping in the food processor).

Spread the topping evenly over the jam, top with the raspberries if using and then sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Return to the oven for 30-40 minutes and bake until golden and set. Cool for an hour to allow the base to firm before removing from the tin using the baking paper as handles. 

When completely cold, slice into bars. The bars will keep well in an airtight container for up to five days.

They were everything I'd hoped they'd be and so easy to make in the food processor.

See you all again next week with a little something for Easter.

Bye for now,



plum ricotta cake

9 Mar 2024

So you know how I am about plum cakes. Well Danielle Alvarez's strawberry ricotta loaf was so delicious, I figured it would taste great made with plums. 

I was meeting some friends and with plums readily available in the fruit shop, I decided to make a plum version of the ricotta cake. I baked the plum cake in a round tin and to prevent the plums from sinking to the bottom of the cake, I put a layer of plum slices in the middle of the cake then topped the cake with some more plum slices. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes an 8 inch cake. 
For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Plum ricotta cake
1 tbs sugar
8 plums, pitted and sliced
165g plain flour
60g wholemeal plain flour 
1 and 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
60ml milk
100g ricotta
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g room temperature unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 tbs lemon rind (about 1 lemon)

Preheat the oven to 175°C conventional. Grease, and flour an 8 inch cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Sprinkle the tbs of caster sugar over the sliced plums and set to one side. Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and ricotta. Set both bowls aside.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl (do not whisk) and add the vanilla extract. Set aside. 

Place the butter, sugar and lemon rind in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on a high speed until the mixture is light, fluffy and almost white in colour. This will take about 5–7 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides as needed. With the machine running, add the eggs, letting one slide in at a time, and waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding in the next.

Stop the machine, add in half the flour mixture, and turn the machine on to low speed to just combine. Add in the milk-ricotta mixture and mix until combined. Finally, stop the machine again and add in the remaining flour mixture. Return the machine to a low speed and mix until it all just comes together. 

Spoon half the batter into the tin and top with a layer of plum slices. Gently spoon the remaining batter over the plums and top with the rest of the plum slices. Bake on the centre rack for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack. 

It came out of the oven looking and smelling pretty good. 

I'm planning to make another version of this cake using raspberries and nectarines and almond meal instead of wholemeal flour. Hopefully the nectarine season will last a little while longer, otherwise that version might have to wait until next year.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


brown butter rye chocolate chunk cookies

4 Mar 2024

Disaster struck the other day. The biscuit tin was empty and needed to be filled quickly. I looked through my copy of 
'Love is a Pink Cake' by Claire Ptak and it opened up at the Brown Butter Rye Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe. I checked my cupboards and apart from the condensed milk, I hadeverything I needed. Saturday morning I bought a tin of condensed milk and by lunch time I'd made the cookie dough and it was resting in the fridge.

American style cookies are sugar heavy and quite large so I reduced the quantity of brown sugar a little and I made slightly smaller cookies. I'm a firm believer that all cookies taste better using aged dough, so I refrigerated the dough overnight then baked the cookies on Sunday. The cookie dough was quite firm so I was worried they might be a bit dry when baked. The cookies rose up rather than out, so I tamped them down halfway through the bake time after which they baked into a perfectly round chocolate chunk cookie. I was meeting a friend for lunch so I waited until I came home and had half a cookie after dinner. It was so good I scoffed the other half before I went to bed.

I normally bake cookies for my biscuit tin so I rarely bring cookies into work. I just knew my workmakes, who are chocolate fiends, would love them so I took them into work with me on Monday. The cookies were chewy and delicious and they disappeared in a flash. I promised my colleagues I'd make another batch soon.

If you'd like to make my version of the cookies, here's the recipe for you which makes 12 cookies. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Brown butter rye chocolate chunk cookies
110g dark milk chocolate (50%)
112g unsalted butter
100g rye flour
87g plain flour
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
A slightly heaped ½ tsp of bicarb soda
135g soft light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1½ tsp vanilla extract
40 mls sweetened condensed milk
flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Chop the chocolate into chunks, reserving 12 chunks to top the cookies. Set to one side.

In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to sizzle and foam. The white milk solids should settle to the bottom of the pan and start to turn golden brown (if it goes black, you have gone too far and must start again). Swirl the pan a few more times then remove from the heat to cool slightly. Weigh out the flours, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate soda and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown butter (including any brown bits from the bottom of the pan) and sugar until well mixed. You can also mix by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and condensed milk and mix well. Scrape down the bowl and mix again, then add the flour and mix until just combined. Finally mix in the chocolate chunks. You will have a fairly firm cookie dough.

Use a scoop or spoon to portion out 12 cookies (approx 46g) into a container that fits into your fridge or freezer. Chill or freeze for at least 30 minutes although I prefer to chill the cookie dough overnight.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Towards the end of the chilling time preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Place the number of cookies you want to bake onto the lined baking tray, spaced well apart as they will almost double in size. Top the cookies with a sprinkle of flaky salt and bake in the oven for 8 minutes. 

Remove the tray from the oven, 
then top each cookie with a chocolate chunk before tamping the cookies to flatten them a little. Rotate the tray then bake for another 7-8 minutes or until the cookies have set and are golden around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes before moving to a wire rack. Once cool, store in an airtight tin.

I thought Claires' blonde peanut butter cookies couldn't be bettered but these brown butter rye chocolate chunk cookies sure give them a run for their money. They were so good one of my work colleagues asked me for the recipe, a rare event.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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