Friday, March 14, 2014

Easter Sweet Bun Recipe and Ishbel Shawl

Easter Sweet Bun Recipe ~

These are buns you will want to nibble on!  I have tried and tried to find the perfect sweet bun recipe, especially around Easter. But I was always disappointed.  Either the filling had spices that I didn't like or the glaze was not sweet enough.  But I have finally hit the jackpot.  I found an English recipe for iced sweet buns that was very close to what I wanted, but for the icing.  It also needed a firmer dough to stand up to a frosting instead of a glaze.  So I tweaked the recipe a bit and added a frosting with a touch of lemon for spring and there you have it.  It was exactly what I had mind for a Spring tea treat! I almost swooned with my first bite and I couldn't restrain myself from woofing down two with my afternoon tea.  They are too good to eat just one.

Sweet Bun Ingredients:
450g white bread flour (weight)  I prefer using King Arthur Bread flour
1 tsp table salt
75g white sugar (weight) I prefer extra fine baking sugar
7g dried yeast (weight)
5oz whole milk (volume)
5oz water (volume)
50g unsweetened butter (weight)

1 1/2 cups sifted confectionery sugar
1/2 cup sweet butter (room temperature)
1 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbs whole milk
Pinch table salt


1.  In a small saucepan gently melt butter with milk and water.  Allow mixture to cool to just above room temperature.  If it's too hot it will kill your yeast, but you do want it slightly warm to touch.
2.  Combine white bread flour, salt, sugar and dried yeast in a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment mix in the wet ingredients (cooled mixture of butter, milk and water) until just combined.  Switch to a dough hook and kneed for a few minutes.  The dough should be a soft but not stick to the sides of your bowl. If the dough is very sticky then add a little more flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of your bowl.  If you prefer, you can knead by hand on a wooden board.  When the dough is ready it should feel smooth, soft and spring back slightly when squeezed (squeeze a portion about the size of an ear lobe between thumb and forefinger to test).
3.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use canola or sesame oil) and cover with a warm damp cloth or use a bread rising bucket with a lid.  Let rise in a warm spot until double in bulk.  This rise takes approximately 1 hour.
4.  Place risen dough on a working surface and punch dough down to remove all air pockets.  Cut dough into 8 pieces (if you want smaller buns divide into 14 pieces) and using the palms of your hand roll each piece into a round ball.  Place balls onto a prepared cookie sheet (i.e. covered with silpat or parchment paper to prevent sticking).  Place buns roughly 1 to 2 inches apart to avoid sticking together as they rise.  Cover buns with a linen cloth saturated in rice flour (or bread flour if you don't have rice flour) or you can simply use an oiled piece of saran wrap.  Allow buns to rise 30 or 40 minutes (a partial rise) in a warm place.  15 minutes before this rise is complete preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Bake for 20 minutes (smaller buns bake more quickly start checking after 12 minutes) at 350 degree (Fahrenheit) or until cooked through.  Buns should feel firm to touch and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  They should not be browned.  If they are browning on top cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent browning.
6.  Allow buns to cool completely on wire rack.  Frost after cooled completely or your frosting will melt.

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting:

1.  Using paddle attachment beat sweet butter until light and fluffy.
2.  Add sifted confectionery sugar, lemon extract, milk and a pinch of salt and beat until well combined.
3.  Using a table knife frost buns generously after they have cooled to room temperature.

These make a wonderful afternoon tea treat and are best eaten the day they are made.  They can easily be dressed up by adding sprinkles to make them more festive for an Easter tea but are nice just with the lemon frosting too. Freeze any left overs.

Ishbel Shawl ~

When I look at this red shawl I think of another red shawl and what it says about the community where I live. And to explain that I need to provide some background.  I'm not a "process knitter" which means that I wear the things that I knit and so it's more than just a soothing habit for me, although it is certainly also that. But wearing hand knits has certain risks including the risk of loosing something that you have worked very hard to make.

And that is exactly what happened to me.  I lost a red shawl that I had knit while out hiking. I didn't even realize it was lost until later that afternoon when I was going out whereupon I realized it wasn't where I normally put it; quickly followed by the realization that it was probably lost that morning somewhere along the trail.  Without much hope of ever seeing it again I returned to where I had hiked that morning and after parking my car I approached the gate and was stunned to see my red shawl draped over the gate patiently waiting me to come get it.  Someone had found my shawl and placed it where I was sure to pass again if I returned for it. Despite who knows how many people passed that way throughout the day it was left there for me.  I've always loved living in Topanga but seeing my shawl hanging there brought home how very special a place it is to live.  In contrast when I practiced law in South Bend Indiana I left a hand knit scarf at counsel's table in a courtroom and I returned 15 minutes later and it was gone to never be seen again.

I am wearing of course the hugely popular Ishbel shawl designed by Ysolda which is currently the second most knit shawl on Ravelry (12,930 projects).  I love how the design reminds me of a bird's wings and I repeated the final chart to emphasize that feathered look.  If you have a solid color yarn I think it makes the perfect choice for a transitional shawl to carry you from Winter into Spring. Oh, and before I forget, the red shawl that I almost lost was one of my Diamond Fantasy shawls which I still wear and enjoy.

Particulars:  Ishbel by Ysolda Teague; 1 skein skinny Bugga (colorway faithful beauty) by Sanguine Gryphon (now split into two yarn shops: Cephalopod Yarns and The Verdant Gryphon) ; US 6 circular needles.  I made the smaller size and my only modification was to repeat the final chart one extra time as I wanted to emphasize this design element.  This is a wonderful pattern and a pleasure to knit.   Other patterns by Ysolda that I've knit are:  Elijah (toy elephant), Mousie (small toy) and Ripley (winter hat).

A Journey into the Unknown ~

Life is a mysterious journey for us all and there is no clear path but one thing is certain the journey is more enjoyable when traveled with good friends.  This is Simcha with his good friend Kona enjoying a morning hike as they pause to consider where their next adventure will take them.

Until next time, be well and love well and may this Spring bring sweetness and joy and color into your life as you travel onward on your life's journey perhaps wearing your own red shawl.


Cloudberry said...

Beautiful shawl. The colour is so pretty. I've made that pattern a couple of times and I'm sure I'll knit it again some time.
The buns looks yummy.
Have a great weekend!

SissySees said...

The shawl is lovely, you are beautiful, and the buns look tasty, but it's that teapot that I'm drawn to. How cheerful!

I love the found shawl story.

shabby girl said...

LOVE your Ishbel, Claudia! Really beautiful. That may have to be my next project!
Simcha, gorgeous as always!

Tanya2 said...

What a wonderful story about the first red shawl, Claudia. I have a neighborhood meeting at my home this weekend and I will definitely try those buns! Make sure to keep them far back on the counter away from Simcha :-)

Hilary said...

That is such a wonderful story about your lost-and-found shawl! It's so great to hear about nice people being nice. :) And your Ishbel is gorgeous! The addition of the extra edging repeat was perfect...I love what it adds to the shawl.

AND, that photo of Simcha and his buddy is WONDERFUL!

Willow said...

You are making me want to move to Topanga!!
Love that shawl. I may need to knit that. I have some silk/llama blend that I spun a few years ago which has been waiting for the perfect pattern. Maybe I've found it!
I also think I want to explore the trails in Topanga Canyon this summer. Do you have any suggestions? You can let me know by pm.

Murielle said...

Love your post and the shawl is gorgeous!!! I love the way you "assort" everything as well - especially that teapot!!!

Kate said...

I love this photo of Simcha and Kona. Something very interesting must be down there. And there is something special about small close communities. In the winter, there are found hats and mittens on posts all over around here. I'm glad your shawl was waiting for you.

Renee said...

Simcha with an apricot Poodle! Oh how that just made me smile remembering our boy Hunter who had the same rich apricot sunset type pigment.

Ishbell has been in my cue for years, perhaps this fall or winter I need to knit it and keep it for myself. I'm mostly a gift knitter, rarely producing enough to keep to enjoy for myself. It does the soul good to hear your shawl was valued as yours and left for you to find.