Tag Archives: Recipes

Christmas…Traditions, Treats and a touch of Trivia…Part 3.

Christmas stockings gingerbread houses

Welcome to week 3 of Christmas Traditions, Treats and of course some Trivia. 

Traditions…

There are many Christmas traditions practised around the world and I will be bringing you some of those and anyone who wishes to contribute with a guest post of their own on a special Thanksgiving dish or tradition would be very welcome to showcase them here  I know my friends across the pond and my relatives celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th November with turkey and lots of other goodies … So please share your thanksgiving recipes and I will link back to your post…

Christmas if you are like me then I am still thinking I have lots of time but the reality is we don’t as the time just flies past and then, after all, that panic, last-minute shopping and preparation it will be over!

We are then left wondering why all the panic, last-minute present buying, cleaning and cooking. Was it worth it?

All the queues for the sales start Boxing Day and a lot of the presents we have lovingly bought and some of you will have scrimped and saved to buy are now being virtually given away….Why do we do it?

Along the way and through the years the true meaning of Christmas has been lost.

I remember getting a sock with a tangerine in the toe, little packets of sweeties, sugar mice a couple of little presents and being so excited. Tangerines were a real treat at Christmas. My dad would come home on Christmas Eve with the Turkey or Capon, Fruit and Chocolates… We would be so excited as we only had those goodies at Christmas and would be eagerly awaiting to be asked if we wanted one.

victorian-christmas

The dustman, milkman and coalman would get their Christmas tip and a mince-pie. Christmas was a special time and now it is so commercialised it has taken away the magic…

I would always get a Rupert the Bear Annual, new slippers and a dressing gown. But we were happy…what happened…commercialisation happened…are children as happy with what they get now….I don’t think so…certainly not in the western world….

Yes, you can get the latest iPhone etc and the young teenagers probably hanker after one but also just to have a cheap Nokia is ok too.

Christmas Jumper Corner…

Did any of you see the latest in Christmas Jumpers on FB this week…??

It takes Christmas jumpers to a whole new level…Apparently, it is quite easy to make your own from an old jumper… I don’t think I will be wearing one quite like that…Sorry, I didn’t want to copy the picture but it looks like there are plenty of DIY ones on Instagram for those who want to do a search?…

ugly-christmas-sweater-3774155_640

But please send in Christmas jumper pics… Let’s have a bit of fun…They are ugly but cute at the same time…Christmas Kitch at it’s best…

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Gingerbread Houses…I have seen pictures of the most elaborate ones and marvel at the talent of some of the bakers …The intricate icing they do is just exquisite…

Me… I am not a baker…Maybe bread, Christmas pies and puddings… I just don’t have the patience anymore to spend hours… Icing cakes…although covid has changed that somewhat I do a little more cake baking than before…

gingerbread house christmas

These little ones look pretty and I know Lily is after me to make one I think something like this will be my limit…Do you make a gingerbread house every year? If so please share …Any hints and tips will be gratefully received and credited to you…

Where did all of this start?

Well despite the quaint tradition of building festive gingerbread houses, gingerbread was once pretty serious business…….

Spices……. particularly ginger and cinnamon, have preservative properties, and it is thought that gingerbread was first professionally baked in Europe around the 11th century when exotic spices were brought back from the Middle East……..

It is said that Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, introduced gingerbread to France, where highly skilled gingerbread bakers were chosen to form professional gingerbread baker guilds that were highly regarded in the bakery profession.

In certain areas of Europe, only invited members of the gingerbread baker’s guild were permitted to bake and sell gingerbread commercially, with the restrictions only lifted by the Guild at Christmas and Easter – when any old cook or baker could give it a try.

Now, of course, cooks all over the world bake gingerbread at Christmas, some more ambitious than others……….

Did you know?

The largest gingerbread house ever created was made by a group of bakers in Texas, the US – they built a 2,520-square-foot gingerbread house to raise funds for a local hospital, containing over 7,200 eggs, 3,000 kg of flour, and an estimated 35.8 million calories…Wow, some baking… What a marathon.

This gingerbread house recipe won’t bake you a mansion but will show you how to create some pretty gingerbread houses….. So have fun and get making those houses. This recipe is a Paul Hollywood recipe of Great British Bake-off fame so I think it should be pretty good and one I will be trying…it does look pretty simple for a novice like me…

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/food/recipes/christmas/paul-hollywood-gingerbread-house

Did you know?

Every Christmas elf has a bell on the tip of their shoes…

Did you know?

How  Santa gets back up the chimney??? He touches the side of his nose with his finger, smiles and nods and in a trice, he is back in his sleigh…Magic 

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There comes a time in our lives when we are faced with the prospect of cooing our own Christmas Turkey …it can strike the fear of bejesus in your heart but never fear as long as you don’t follow the guidance of Mr Bean you will be fine…

I would say that a smaller turkey would suffice…

Now for the serious stuff…Where to Start…

First of all, relax and all will be well…

I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.

A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.

I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…

The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.

Some chefs also push the butter under the skin of the turkey…..

It really is a personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s a personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options…

Cooking Times:

Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.

Here is the link to a handy website if you need to calculate your cooking timehttp://www.csgnetwork.com/turkeycookingtimecalc.html

This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly

The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.

I used about 6 oz of butter.

Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe them out inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.

I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…

Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.

Calculate your cooking times and preheat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven and how hot it runs…

Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.

Set the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.

Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.

Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.

Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes at 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.

To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.

If you are using a meat thermometer, it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.

Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..

 

Enjoy!

After all that I think a “Pat on the back” and a cocktail is called for…Don’t you?

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend xx

Christmas…Treats, Traditions and Trivia! Part 2…

Christmas Traditions Treats and Trivia

Welcome to week 2 of Christmas traditions, Treats and of course some Trivia. 

You can also expect tried and tested recipes which were passed down from my mum, recipes I have been given by friends and family from all over the world and which are now our family favourites. Traditions there are many Christmas traditions practised around the world and I will be bringing you some of those and anyone who wishes to contribute with a guest post of their own on a special Thanksgiving dish or tradition then you would be very welcome to showcase them here as I know my friends across the pond and my relatives celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th November and have turkey and lots of other goodies … So please share and I will link back to your post…

Early images of Santa pictured him as a stern, commanding disciplinarian holding a birch rod. The jolly old Santa we know and love today was created by artist Haddon Sundblom for a Coca-Cola ad.

From 1920s to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering toys (and playing with them!), pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, visiting with the children who stayed up to greet him, and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines and on store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectables… I would love to have one as I have a small collection of Christmas memorabilia mostly crockery and tableware…

Pastry cook Tom Smith invented Christmas Crackers around 1846. He was inspired by the French habit of wrapping sugared almonds in twists of paper as gifts. Love messages called ” kiss mottos were in the original crackers which didn’t crack until a while later…Tom used to distribute his crackers to customers and friends through his successful wedding cake ornament and confectionery business he did, however, realise that he had to come up with a unique idea to make them more saleable. It is said that he got the idea of a pop from listening to logs crackling on the fire.

He had the idea of incorporating a friction activated chemical explosion into his product to produce the necessary ‘popping’ sound.

Silver fulminate, a compound discovered by the English chemist Edward Charles Howard (1774 – 1816) in 1800 and further developed in 1802 by the Italian chemistry professor, Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli (1761 – 1818).

This eventually became the cracker snap of today and Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers were born.

I find it fascinating how many ideas evolve and develop…Don’t you?

HOWEVER, as Climate Change is now high on most people’s agendas last week I showed you how easy it is to make your own crackers and they are so much more personal… The bonus less packaging coming into your home…and that’s just from the crackers and the box …Here’s the link to how to make your own crackers in case you missed it last week.

Besides food waste, huge amounts of food packaging will also be discarded. This includes 300 million plastic cups and straws.

Consumer group Which has also found that packaging makes up approximately half of the total weight of chocolate sold at Christmas (Ferrero Rocher for example is 42% packaging, 58% product!).

In total, around 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food will also be discarded over the festive period.

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Did you know?

Fruitcake originated in ancient Egypt, where it was considered essential for the afterlife.

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Christmas Pudding …Have you made yours yet?? If not I have added the link for two Christmas pudding recipes one Gluten Free…

Christmas Pudding

Originally way back in ancient times, there was a sweet haggis called hackin made from oatmeal, dried fruit, suet and grated apple and then cooked like its savoury Scots relative the haggis by boiling it in a sheep’s stomach.

Often a Christmas pudding is wrongly thought to be an adaption of a spicy soup called potage…However, according to early records, potage and hackin were served side by side on Christmas menus.

Throughout the years this sweet hackin has evolved and it became more than just a tasty treat Small items such as coins (wealth) and buttons (bachelorhood) were put inside, and supposedly foretold what the New Year would bring. I remember my nan putting a silver sixpence in her pudding mix …Just the one and we all hoped we would get it but I am also sure there must have been many which were swallowed or caused a cracked tooth maybe that was why the tradition stopped.

Now they are just a beautiful rich steamed pudding with the fruit steeped in alcohol…rich and lovely…Christmas Pudding Recipes…

Who still puts out a plate with a mince pie and a carrot on Christmas Eve for Santa and his reindeer???

How’s this for weird Christmas food? 

I am used to seeing deep-fried bugs here so they don’t freak me out…South Africa is home to some of the world’s most unusual holiday food fare. Every December locals feast on a seasonal delicacy– the deep-fried caterpillars of Emperor Moths! They really are very pretty caterpillars… Deep-fried…Would you eat them ????

The hunt is on for the best Christmas Jumper…

box-christmas jumper -christmas-balls-714696 (1)

To be in with a chance of winning…Please send in your photos…

Christmas Cheer this week is in the guise of my homemade Irish Cream Recipe

Irish Cream:

Ingredients: Makes about 1 litre.

  • 1 2/3 cup(400 ml) Irish Whiskey
  • 1 cup double(heavy) cream
  • 1  14oz can sweetened condensed milk…
  • 3 tbsp Chocolate syrup or chocolate topping..
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.

Cooks Tips: Irish Cream or Baileys is now sold in many flavours which means you can be inventive…Below are a few ideas…You can also make a dairy-free version which is equally as good…

  1. Replace the coffee and chocolate syrup with Kahlua.
  2. Add orange extract and extra chocolate.
  3. For a dairy-free version use coconut milk to make sweetened condensed milk and then use coconut milk instead of cream.
  4. Use Drambuie instead of coffee and add some Cointreau and a spot more chocolate sauce.
  5. if you don’t have chocolate syrup, use 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder instead. I suggest whisking the cocoa powder with a tbsp of cream until smooth.
  6. Your alcohol…your choice how about Southern Comfort and Amaretto. Brandy… it was awesome! or Bourbon.

Let’s Brew!

Blend all ingredients(except) for the alcohol) together lightly as you don’t want to curdle your cream add your alcohol and then refrigerate.

Serve cold and or over Ice…or buy some pretty glass bottles add a bow and a message…Now, who wouldn’t love to receive that as a Christmas Gift?

How easy is that? plus …you can get about 4 batches from one bottle of  Irish Whiskey so by my reckoning that’s a real saving and lots of Irish Cream which we tested alongside Bailey’s and it was very close…yay……

Thank you for reading this week’s Christmas Traditions and Treats I do hope you have enjoyed it if so please let me know in comments I love to hear from you…xxx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx

October is National Apple Month…Apple Recipes freshly cooked in my kitchen.

October is National Apple Month in the US…it is also National Pumpkin Month which I have promoted more than enough as wonderful as the pumpkin is l think it is time I gave the “Apple” the spotlight…

Did you know that worldwide 7,500 different varieties of apples are grown? My favourite apples are Bramley’s, Cox’s and Braeburn apples which ones are your favourite apples ???

As the saying goes an ” Apple a day keeps the doctor away” and rightly so as that little round ball of goodness is 2/3 fibre it has lots of anti-oxidants especially in the peel so do not peel it…please. They are also fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free and come in all shades of red, green and yellow so many to choose from…Which apple or apples are your favourite????

Apples have been around since at least 6500 BC and used to be called winter bananas or melt in your mouth… Mmmmm, don’t really get that connection…

Who loved doing apple bobbing at Halloween?? Or that party game where you were blindfolded and had your hands behind your back and had to take a bite of the apple sometimes it was a doughnut…But good fun…

Still mainly picked by hand apple growing is called pomology and the apple is a member of the rose family.

The cook in me can tell you that two pounds of apples will make a 9” pie…that apples ripen 6-10 times faster kept at room temperature than if you refrigerate them.

Apples go well with many dishes and recipes I mean you cannot have roast pork without applesauce or coleslaw without apple my mum used to make wonderful pancakes with slices of apple in the batter and her apple pie was also the best ever… I am still trying to bake a pie as good as my mum’s.

Here are some of my favourite recipes using apples…Starting with coleslaw…

 

There are so many permutations of this dish and all wonderful in their own way…My version, 5 ingredients plus mayo and you have a beautiful slaw to eat with anything…

I add no sugar as carrots and apples have their own natural sweetness.

So….Lets Cook!

 Shred half a white cabbage or red or half and half.

Peel and quarter at least one apple and then slice thinly.

Grate or dice a carrot.

Put in a bowl, add some mayo,  pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and a good squeeze of fresh lemon /lime juice.

Keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve. It will keep in the fridge may be covered until the next day but I just make it as I want it so easy to make enough for 1 or 10.

Enjoy!

Applesauce is one of the easiest sauces to make and can be used in so many different ways.

 

To make applesauce just peel your apples add a tiny bit of water and depending on which apples you are using you can add a little sugar…I don’t…Sometimes I add some cloves, a cinnamon stick it depends…Cook until softened and then you can puree if you like a smooth sauce or just roughly mash it or leave it as it is…

Applesauce pureed is a lovely food for babies when they first start eating solids maybe mix a little with rice or porridge for them.

*You can use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of one egg in most baking recipes. Some say to mix it with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. If all you have is sweetened applesauce, then simply reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. Applesauce is also a popular healthy replacement for oil in many baked goods.

N.B I haven’t used applesauce as an egg substitute myself…Have you????

I love baked apples which is something my mum used to make filled with sultanas and baked in the oven she also used to cover the apple in suet pasty and make a suet apple pudding… All served with a bowl full of custard…I have happy childhood memories of these and although I don’t make the suet pudding we do love a baked apple like the one below and equally as lovely without the custard…

Ingredients:

• 4 large apples cored – any type except Granny smith which do not bake well
• 4 teaspoons unsalted butter cut in tiny cubes
• 1/4 cup walnuts chopped
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger or you could use fresh ginger very finely chopped or grated.
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• brown sugar to taste
• ½ cup apple cider ( I used ACV as I couldn’t get apple cider)

Let’s Cook!

Place your cored apples in an ovenproof dish. Mix the butter, walnuts and spices together and add to the centre of the apples.

Pour your apple cider into the dish to stop the apples from catching the bottom of the dish.

Bake on 350F/177C or gas mark 4 for 45 to 60 minutes depending on your apples…Baste the apples every 15 minutes.

To Serve: These can be served with custard, ice cream or a dairy-free coconut cream whip.

This was a lovely dessert and I think using Apple cider vinegar instead of cider took away the sweetness of the apple it was really nice.

What is your favourite childhood memories of eating apples????

My mum’s apple pie recipe…

apple pie-2760064_1280

To serve: Add a squirt of cream or some lovely clotted cream if you can get it, custard, my dairy-free cream as above or a scoop of lovely Cornish ice cream.

Watching the calories then top the apple with some meringue ..very nice or add a crumble mix my recipe for crumble made separately is very nice and you could add as little as you like just a spoonful layered into a glass gives that little bit of added crunch.

 Apple and Mulberry Crumble

What else are apples used for ?? Apple juice, Apple cider vinegar Cider, Apple vinegar all of which have many health benefits and uses… Just be careful if you buy apple juice that it is not loaded with loads of sugar and other nasties which those sneaky drinks companies put in everything…Don’t get me started…lol and if it’s cider( scrumpy) moderation is the name…

I hope you have enjoyed this post on the humble little apple…x

Stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot as you know what I am going to say it is Free and proven to be good for your health…..

Thank you once again for reading this post  …Happy Baking! xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Tuesday 8th June 2021 – Entertaining Again? #Recipes Dolly Aizenman, Eat Dessert First, Dorothy of New Vintage Kitchen.

Some of my favourite food bloggers on one post…A quick intro for you…Dolly who cooks some wonderful recipes and always gives us the history…Dorothy is today highlighting her delicious homemade pancakes…Lily’s favourite dessert at the moment and last but not least…I don’t need any encouragement to head over to “eat dessert first” and if you love feta cheese as much as I do..prepare yourselves for a delicious Batzina, a local, traditional pie with feta cheese. #recommended read

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/06/08/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-tuesday-8th-june-2021-entertaining-again-recipes-dolly-aizenman-eat-dessert-first-dorothy-of-new-vintage-kitchen/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – May 9th – 15th 2021 – 1960s hits, Grief, Green Kitchen, Health, Stories, Poetry, books, reviews and funnies

Welcome to the weekly round-up with some posts you might have missed over at Smorgasbord Magazine…as always there is lots for everyone…wine forgeries who would have drunk?… Book reviews, recipes, funnies …grab a cuppa or your favourite tipple and enjoy the read…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/05/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-weekly-round-up-may-9th-15th-2021-1960s-hits-grief-green-kitchen-health-stories-poetry-books-reviews-and-funnies/

Traditional Hot Cross Buns…

Yes, that time of the year is nearly upon us when we celebrate Easter with Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday followed by Easter Eggs on Easter Sunday and Simmel Cake on Easter Monday.

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

I have been seeing lots of alternative recipes for Hot Cross Buns...some sound delicious some sound as if they are made just because the baker can…

Most of the recipes from my childhood I don’t want to change… it’s tradition lest we forget…x…

So without further ado here is your recipe for…Traditional Hot Cross Buns...Warm from the oven there is nought better than a Hot Cross Bun buttered with lovely grass-fed butter…

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 450g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
  • 50g caster sugar …I use natural golden sugar.
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g  butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • oil, for greasing
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt…ordinary salt is ok.

The spices and dried fruit

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 100g currants
  • Optional: Orange or lemon zest.

For  the pastry crosses:

  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar.

Let’s Bake!

Put the flour, yeast, castor sugar and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl with the spices and dried fruit and mix well. If you want to add a little lemon or orange zest it can be added now. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk, 50ml warm water, the beaten egg and the melted butter. Mix everything together to form a dough – start with a wooden spoon and finish with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water; if it’s too wet, add more flour.

Knead in the bowl or on a floured surface until the dough becomes smooth and springy. Transfer to a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until roughly doubled in size – this will take about 1 hr depending on how warm the room is.

Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few secs, then divide into 12 even portions – I roll my dough into a long sausage shape, then quarter and divide each quarter into 3 pieces. Shape each portion into a smooth round and place on a baking sheet greased with butter, leaving some room between each bun for it to rise.

Use a small, sharp knife to score a cross on the top of each bun, then cover with the damp tea towel again and leave in a warm place to prove for 20 mins until almost doubled in size again. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas

When the buns are ready to bake, mix the plain flour with just enough water to give you a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag (or into a plastic food bag and snip the corner off) and pipe a white cross into the crosses you cut earlier. Bake for 12-15 mins until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. While still warm, melt the granulated sugar with 1 tbsp water in a small pan, then brush over the buns.

Tip: I put my mix for the cross in one of those plastic refill sauce bottles as I find I get all sorts of shape and size of the cross if I use a piping bag/greaseproof. clumsy klutz that I am..ha ha.

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Hot from the Oven! Yum!

Legend tells us that if sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and a half for me, Between us two, shall goodwill be” is said at the time or if hung in the kitchen they are said to protect against fire and all bread will turn out ok this is replaced every year.

And I’m sure there are lots more traditions but I just want the butter to put on my bun.

buttered hot cross bun

Enjoy your buns xx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week  and don’t forget I do love to chat if you want to leave a comment xx