Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pleased as Punch

I have not seen a Punch and Judy show for a long time but they were in full flow at the Ruby Country Market at Hatherleigh today and despite the chill in the air they had a full audience of enthralled children. The market was packed with stalls and entertainment and was really well organised. I do hope that both the organisers and stall holders were delighted with the turnout. We came away with local wine, bread and cheese, perfect.

It was only when I returned home and looked into a little of the history to Punch and Judy that I learnt the phrase 'Pleased as Punch' comes from this very old puppet show. I hope Punch will not mind my borrowing it for my title, but it really sums up how I feel about my Good Friday hot cross bun baking.

The #ShortandTweet challenge this week focussed on  the sweet and fruit bread section of Dan Lepard's book Short and Sweet and I went for the 'Banana maple pecan buns', pictured above, and the 'Spiced stout buns'. I had just planned to do the stout buns but when I found myself with some spare ripe bananas it seemed a good idea to try them both.

I managed to get the banana buns out of the oven in time for a late breakfast on Good Friday and we ate them still warm and with plenty of butter. This recipe has quite a mix of flavours as it includes cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, raisins and muscavado sugar as well as the banana, maple syrup and pecans.  Quite a balance to strike but it does work and the buns made a very welcome lazy breakfast.

The recipe I was even more intrigued by was the 'Spiced stout buns' as you not only added stout to the dough you also soaked the dried fruits and peel in hot black tea. As the recipe was already quite exotic to keep with the theme I rummaged in my tea leaf stores and found my Russian Caravan tea from Drury Tea & Coffee ,which seemed up to the task in hand.

These buns are packed with spice and fruit which I think of as traditional and personally love, but I realise many folks do not enjoy highly spiced and fruited breads.

They baked to a lovely moist crumb with a thin crust and odd as it may sound they went really well with some cheese for lunch. I am also fond of eating gingerbread with cheese for an afternoon snack so cheese purists should possibly turn away now. The dark ale that I used was Cotleigh Peregrine, described as a porter and to my taste more suitable than Guinness type ales.

The recipe makes a lot of buns so many are now in the freezer but we have enjoyed them toasted for breakfast since the day they were baked and I will most definitely be using the Stout bun recipe again for my Easter buns.

So in the words of Punch  "That's the way to do it!"


  1. Those buns look the business, don't they. And I can't tell you how I appreciate the note about the stout that you used in their preparation.

    When we baked them we reduced the size which made them a good bun with cheese, as you suggest.

  2. Finally, your charming photographs were borrowed for the #shortandtweet 23 Bevy of Beautiful Buns compilation. Thank you :)

  3. Finally, your charming photographs were borrowed for the #shortandtweet 23 Bevy of Beautiful Buns compilation. Thank you :)