Monday, April 12, 2010

Nice buns! (with jam)

Having promised a certain "elderly relative" that I would feed him at the earliest opportunity, I figured I'd better come bearing baked goods when I went to Akaroa on Saturday. I chose honey tea buns (p30) as likely to appeal not only to the aforementioned "elderly realative" but to his somewhat more elderly mother as well.

Honey tea buns are quite similar to scones in ingredients, method and taste. However, the recipe also includes orange rind, ginger and, of course, honey. The dough is rolled to 2.5cm thick, and you use a biscuit cutter to cut out 5cm rounds, which are then brushed with milk and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

The high proportion of baking powder in the recipe is obvious when you see how high the tea buns rise - so high, in fact, that mine sort of split in the middle and bent over lopsidedly. I'm not sure if they're supposed to look like that, but it gives them a bit of character at least.

Straight out of the oven, the buns were lovely. You can't really taste the honey or the orange rind, but they're beautifully light and fluffy - like a really good scone. By the next day, however, they'd gone a bit firm and weren't nearly as nice, even when we zapped them in the microwave.

So, considering the buns were a bit dry, it's a good thing I made some jam to go with them. I made mention in a previous post of some cape gooseberries Mum had brought from her garden. If you're saying to yourself, "what's a cape gooseberry?" don't worry. I didn't know what they were either. It's only when I happened to ask Mum what they were, that I found out she actually grew them.

Mum had gleaned as many cape gooseberries as she could for me, but was only able to get around 500g. Once I'd tried one or two, removed the papery husks and a couple that had gone mouldy in the bag, I had 450g worth of gooseberries. The recipe (p226) is for 1kg, so it involved a calculator and some recipe-maths to work out the proportions of a 45% recipe.

Luckily there aren't many ingredients. You just boil the gooseberries with a little water and lemon juice, then add sugar and boil some more.

Meanwhile, I had the jars sterilising in my oven, which was still hot from the tea buns. I'd decided to use the plastic jam seals recommended by my Mother, since it meant I wouldn't have to sterilise lids and I could use some jars I didn't have matching lids for.

About 20 minutes later, my jam was at 'setting point', so I pulled out my jars and filled them one by one, sealing them with the plastic seals. So easy. My 45% recipe made only two and a bit jars, but that's ok - what would I do with jar upon jar of jam in my cupboard? It takes me forever to get through a single jar!

By the next morning the jam was well set, so I took some with me to Akaroa, where it was most enthusiastically received, and was much used at morning tea and lunchtime atop some of Auntie Grace's scones. The tea buns went down ok at aternoon tea time, certainly Dad was happy enough with them, but I wish they'd still been as nice and fluffy as they were when I first got them out of the oven.

In short: Honey tea buns are good, as long as you eat them while they're fresh. Cape gooseberry jam is easy and very tasty - the tricky bit is getting the gooseberries.


  1. Grandma used to grow cape gooseberries years ago. Aside from the fact that they had seeds, I used to really like them.

  2. I'm pretty surprised you could get past the seeds at all really - I think my first thought when I tried one was "oh, Bryn would hate these" because they're almost entirely seeds.


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