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Black Bun

Black Bun

December 31: Hogmanay

Highlander grew up eating fruit cake, mince meat tarts and shortbread during the holiday season. Following Scottish tradition, he also snacks on slices of black bun during Hogmanay (Scottish word for “last day of the year”). The dessert gets its name from the dark and dense rich filling of raisins and currants. Moreover, ground black pepper is one of the dark spices included in the ingredients.

A popular tradition on Hogmanay, which is celebrated all night on new year’s eve until the wee hours of new year’s day, is “first-footing.” If a tall, dark-haired male is the first visitor to enter one’s home after midnight, he is considered the bringer of good luck in the coming year. The first-footer also brings presents, such as a coin, bread, salt, coal, whisky and, of course, black bun. These lucky gifts represent fortune, bounty, warmth and good cheer.

Celebrate the new year with a sweet Scottish black bun. Happy Hogmanay to all of our HI Cookery blog readers!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking” by Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter)

For the “bun” pastry

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened and cut into cubes
  • cold water

Directions

Generously grease an 8-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the cubes of butter. Mix with fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Moisten with enough water until a dough is formed. Roll into a ball.

Black Bun

On a floured surface, roll out the dough thinly, making sure it is large enough to line the pan with a little overhang. Trim excess dough and roll out another piece large enough to cover the top of the pan. Set aside and make the filling.

Black Bun

For the “black” filling

  • 4 cups raisins
  • 3 cups currants
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped, sliced or slivered
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten (1 for the filling, 1 for the glaze)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brandy
  • 5 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the raisins with the currants. Mix in the flour and brown sugar.

Black Bun

Stir in the almonds. In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Mix the spices into the filling. Moisten with one beaten egg, brandy and milk.

Black Bun

Spoon the filling into the pastry, pressing down to pack it all in. Moisten the edges with a little water and cover with the remaining pastry. Trim with a knife as necessary. Press the edges to seal well.

Black Bun

Prick the top with the tines of a fork. Brush with egg glaze. Bake in a preheated oven at 225 degrees F for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Remove from the pan and wrap in foil. Store in an airtight container until Hogmanay.

Black Bun

When ready to serve, place onto a cutting board and slice to reveal the black filling.

Black Bun

Notes

  • Black Bun is traditionally made several weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container to allow the flavors to develop and mature. Then it is served on New Year’s Eve and Day.
  • See our shortbread recipes (traditional, chocolate and lemon) on January 6 (National Shortbread Day).

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cakes

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

October: National Apple Month

After seeing some fall foliage at Lost Maples Natural State Park in Vanderpool, Texas, we decided to have lunch with our friends in nearby Medina—the Apple Capital of Texas. We stopped in a cute café and ate hamburgers with applewood smoked bacon. For dessert, we chose from an array of apple-flavored treats, such as pie, dumplings, bread, cobblers, cookies and even ice cream! The “Apple Store” (not to be confused with the one that sells Macintosh computers, iPads, iPods and iPhones) has souvenirs, gift items and other products from Love Creek Orchards, such as jellies, jams and sauces and butters. We also walked around the grounds to see a variety of dwarf apple trees.

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

Celebrate the season with a recipe that includes the quintessential fall fruit—apples. Make mini applesauce spice bundt cakes during National Apple Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Southern Food)

For the applesauce spice mini bundts

  • ¾ cup applesauce
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspooon vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the applesauce with the sugar and oil. Beat in the eggs. Add vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Gradually add this to the wet mixture and combine well. Fold in the raisins and walnuts.

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

Pour batter into a well-greased mini bundt pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven. Carefully invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool the cakes completely.

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

For the caramel glaze

(Adapted from Southern Food)

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the pinch of salt. Stir in the brown sugar until cooked. Pour in the cream and bring to a boil over medium heat. Keep stirring until thickened (about two minutes). Remove from heat and let cool for about an hour.

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

Line a lipped pan with foil. Place a wire rack with the mini bundts on top. Drizzle the caramel glaze on the cakes and let flow to the sides. Decorate the tops with fall-themed candy sprinkles (optional).

Applesauce Spice Mini Bundt Cake

Notes

  • We used Wilton brand jumbo leaves mix sprinkles to decorate each mini bundts for the fall season.
  • Some sources state that National Apple Months are from September until November. National Apple Week is the second week of August.
  • Learn more about apples from the U.S. Apple Association website at http://www.usapple.org/.
  • Search our blog for more apple recipes.

Chocolate Bunny Butts

Chocolate Bunny Butts

March 31, 2013: Easter

As a reward for surviving Lent (and giving up chocolate for 40 days), Islander gets a chocolate bunny from Highlander as an Easter gift. Whether it is a hollow or solid candy bunny (she likes the latter better!), Islander can indulge in all that chocolate goodness after sacrificing sweets for a few weeks.

As an alternative to chocolate bunnies, Chocolate Bunny Butts are a differently delicious dessert made with deviled food cookies, miniature marshmallows and melted chocolate.  They look especially cute with colorful candy eggs—and they are quick and easy to make.

Eat an Easter fun food and have a Chocolate Bunny Butt. Hoppy Happy Easter from HI Cookery!

Recipe

(Inspired by Hungry Happenings)

Ingredients

Directions

Place the bunny head pattern on a cookie sheet. Lay waxed paper over it. Melt the chocolate according to the package directions. Cool slightly.

Chocolate Bunny Butts

Flatten a miniature marshmallow. Dip one flat side in the melted chocolate. Attach it to the cookie. Fill with melted chocolate a pastry bag outfitted with a round decorating tip (or fill a plastic bag and snip off a small hole in the corner). Carefully trace the bunny head pattern with the melted chocolate leaving a small tab at the end.

Chocolate Bunny Butts

Place in the refrigerator to cool and harden the chocolate. Carefully peel off the bunny heads from the waxed paper. Use the remaining melted chocolate to attach the cookie to the head. Refrigerate to set the chocolate. Arrange the dessert on a platter and serve.

Chocolate Bunny Butts

Notes

  • Download a PDF of our bunny head pattern here.
  • Search our blog for other Easter or egg recipes.