Manna from Devon’s Woodfired Easter Baking
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without some woodfired Easter baking – freshly baked hot cross buns and a chocolate cake as well for those who have been off chocolate during Lent. Using the retained heat of the woodfired oven by taking out the fire is the best way to bake as it provides a stable environment without the fire or embers adding fumes or too much colour. Breads and cakes all bake fantastically in the wood fired oven and stay delicously moist – the best hot cross buns and cakes we’ve had!!
Here are the recipes we used and for the method, do check out the film on our youtube site.
As you probably know it’s more difficult to tell the temperature in a wood fired oven than a regular oven, no dials, lights or knobs so we really encourage our students to get a feel for the temperature of the oven – literally! Check out how we do that here
It is a bit of a leap of faith to bake in your wood fired oven – there’s no fire, the door’s shut so there’s nothing to see, there’s no smell and you’re using the retained heat but much like other cooking, it’s just practise and hugely gratifying when you open the door and bring out some very satisfying baked goodies.
Happy Easter and Happy Baking!
David and Holly
Traditional Hot Cross Buns with Tea Soaked Fruit.
We bake buns for our guests and friends in the village every year and they are always a big hit. We always soak the fruit first to add moisture to the buns and to play with different flavours. Inspired by a recent visit to a tea plantation in Kerala this version uses a good quality tea.
Makes 12 buns
- 250g raisins
- 100g mixed peel
- 2tsp mixed spice
- 200ml hot, very strong tea (we used Earl Grey)
- 175ml warm milk
- 10g instant yeast
- 150g strong white flour
- 1 medium egg
- 50g melted butter
- 50g caster sugar
- Approx 50ml warm water
- 8g salt
- 300g strong white flour, plus extra
- 2tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp boiling water
1. Heat the oven and clear it as we did in our youtube film. For baking the hot cross buns, you want the oven to be at 5 Mississippi (200C and falling)
2. Mix the spice, raisins, peel and tea and leave to soak for at least 1 hour. Mix the milk, yeast and 150g flour in a bowl. Leave that to ferment for 1 hour.
3. To the pre-fermented milk/yeast/flour mix add the remaining flour, sugar, butter, egg and salt. Mix this and add enough water to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
4. Knead the dough until it is springy and elastic, about 10 minutes. Drain the fruit/tea/spice mix and add this to the dough. Continue kneading until the fruit is well distributed.
5. Cover and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size. This will probably take about 2 hours.
6. Divide the dough into 100g pieces, shape into balls and place, almost touching, on a tray lined with baking parchment. Cover and leave to ferment until almost doubled in size.
7. Mix 1tbsp plain flour with enough water to make a paste. Brush the risen buns with milk then use a piping back to pipe crosses of the paste on to each ball of dough.
8. Put the tray of buns into the centre of the oven, shut the door and bake for about 15 minutes. Have a piece of foil at the ready to cover the buns if they are browning too quickly (check after 3-4 minutes). If the oven is too hot, you can leave the door slightly ajar to let some air circulate.
9. Mix the caster sugar and boiling water and brush over while hot for a final gloss.
Chocolate and Almond Cake
This is a great recipe to have up your sleeve – easy to put together, gluten free and delicious.
200g dark chocolate
30g cocoa powder
4 eggs, separated
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
2tbsp strong black coffee
1tsp almond essence
1. Line a 25cm loose bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.
2. Put the chocolate, butter and cocoa in an ovenproof pan and gently melt everything together at the front of the oven. We put ours by the metal door whle the hot cross buns are baking so the chocolate and butter just melt gently right by it.
3. Mix together the egg yolks, caster sugar, ground almonds, coffee and almond essence.
4. Whisk the egg whites until they are at the soft peak stage. Add the melted butter and chocolate mixture to the almond mixture and stir together. Fold in the egg white mixture and then turn all of this into the cake tin.
5. Put the cake in the oven at 6 Mississippi (180C and falling) and shut the door once the hot cross buns have come out.
6. Test the cake with a skewer after 30 minutes and if the skewer comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven, leave it to stand for 5 minutes and then take it out of the tin, leaving it to cool on a wire rack.
7. When the cake is cooled down, gently melt together 30g butter and another 60g dark chocolate and stir this together until smooth and glossy. Pour the mixture over the cake and when it’s almost set, sprinkle over some sparkly cake decorations.
8. Enjoy with a hot cross bun and a great cup of tea.
Enjoy your woodfired Easter baking – we’d love to know how you get on. We hope you liked our youtube video and recipe – we’d love it if you subscribed to our channel; we’ll be bringing out a new recipe every week passing on great recipes and tips for improving your woodfired baking.