These warm spring days means that the farm has been busy: the dairy herd have left the shelter of the winter barns and have been taken out to graze in the fields, and lambing is well underway.
Even though I witness the new births every year, welcoming our newborns never ceases to fill me with joy and we love having visitors to the farm to see the maternity units on our lambing tours.
We’ve also been getting ready for our Easter celebrations. There will be lots of traditional family activities to get involved in on Easter Sunday at the farm: egg hunts, floral crown-making, egg decorating and the chance to make Easter biscuits.
If you’re looking to start your own preparations soon I’m also sharing Daylesford’s recipe for traditional hot cross buns below. It is a great weekend activity lots of fun to make, especially for children who can help to shape the buns and pipe the white crosses. You need just need to make sure you leave enough time to prove the dough which is essential for a light, fluffy bun.
Hot Cross Buns
For the buns
500g strong white flour
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
10g fine sea salt
110ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter, softened
25g golden syrup
7g sachet of dried yeast
70g mixed peel
1 egg, beaten
For the crosses
60g plain flour
15ml sunflower oil
For the glaze
25g caster sugar
1tsp golden syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
To make the dough, sift the flour, spices and salt into a large bowl. Gently warm the milk, water, butter and golden syrup in a pan until the syrup and butter have just melted. Test the temperature and if no hotter than lukewarm, stir in the yeast.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the milk and yeast mixture. Using your hands, mix together to form a wet dough. Turn on to a surface dusted with flour and knead for 10 minutes or so until the dough is smooth.
Gently roll out the dough to about 2cm thick. Sprinkle over the currants, sultanas and mixed peel and knead again until evenly distributed through the dough. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours until roughly doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto the floured worktop again and knock back by pressing down with the flat of your hand a few times to even out the bubbles of air. Divide into 12 even pieces and shape into buns before placing on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel and prove again until doubled in size. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and preheat the oven to 210C.
To make the paste for the crosses, mix the flour, water and oil together in a bowl until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle. When the buns have doubled in size, pipe the paste mixture onto the top of each to form a cross. Then bake in the top section of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.
While the buns are baking, make the glaze. Place the sugar, lemon juice, golden syrup and water in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When baked, remove the buns from the oven and while still warm, brush the tops with the glaze. Leave to cool on a wire rack.