Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter break

The Easter break has changed so much for me over the years. This 4-day weekend is now my favourite holiday time during a busy year. There is something so appealing about being forced to take a break at the same time as being awarded a licence to eat copious amounts of chocolate, all the while being unable to do normal things (read: shop for stuff I don't need and rush about stressing over things that really don't matter) for just a couple of days each year. I look forward to the long weekend with probably more excitement than I should and eagerly embrace the time out.

Yesterday, we headed to the Horowhenua with a bunch of friends to spend the night in a friend's newly built log house. Set amid a 2 acre plot of land strewn with 40 metre gum trees, we were looking forward to the overnight stay that had long ago been promised. We loaded up the car with heaps of food, wine, Easter eggs for hiding and a few board games, then were on our way. The property had been hit pretty hard during the storms this week so there was some trepidation about what state we might find the grounds in, but the house was beautifully unscathed.

I'd had romantic ideas of us waking up on Easter Sunday to the smell of freshly baked hot cross buns and set about making dough to bring with me. What I hadn't anticipated was our friend not having an oven yet in his temporary kitchen. Plan B: I could use the warming rack beneath the woodburner and cross my fingers that it would successfully bake bread.

My oven for the night
The biggest challenge was getting enough heat. I needed 200ºC for the hot cross buns to cook but apparently it's rare for the oven to get above 130ºC (enough to slowly toast muesli but that's about it). We solved this by cranking up the burner, adding heaps of wood, pouring some wine and waiting. The buns doubled in size while proving in front of the heater, then it was into the fire to see what would happen.

Just the right size to bake a dozen hot cross buns
Success! Not only was the gap between the metal plates just big high to bake twelve hot cross buns on a tray, but they cooked perfectly with just the right amount of colour on top. I am so proud of my first ever (and potentially only ever) batch of woodburner baked hot cross buns! It was even more satisfying to produce them for an eager audience who oohed and aahed while they were baking and drooled over the smell as they were cooling.

The best part is that we have arrived home relaxed and armed with a cache of chocolate, along with a few spare hot cross buns for breakfast tomorrow. They will be perfectly matched with freshly brewed coffee after one more morning of sleeping in ... so long as the cat remembers that it's a holiday and doesn't wake me up for work at 6:30 am. (I don't rate my chances of that happening but at least I know breakfast will be good!)

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