Eggnog Fruit Bread

Eggnog Fruit Bread

Eggnog Fruit Bread

Oh eggnog, eggnog, how I do love you.  You are just the ticket for smoothing out a little hootch, happily consumed on Christmas eve in the name of good cheer.   You are the perfect accompaniment to some of those Christmas cookies,  and mixed into the egg mixture, you made marvelous French Toast on Christmas morning.  But why, dear eggnog, is there so much of you left when the celebrations are all over?

Well, there’s just one thing to do…. turn you into something else.

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Poof!  You are now a fruit bread.

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FRUITED EGGNOG BREAD

Yield:    Makes two  7.75″ x 3.75″ loaves, or ( 1 ) 9″ x 5″ loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flourIMG_8803
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. mace (nutmeg is a good substitute.)
  • 1 1/2 cups eggnog
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. rum flavoring
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup mixed candied fruits

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a 9″ x 5″ pan or two smaller pans ( approx. 8″ x 4″); or line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the long sides of the pans.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and mace.

3.  In another smaller bowl, beat the egg with a whisk, stir in melted butter, eggnog and rum flavoring.  Add all at once to flour mixture and stir with a spoon just until flour is moistened.  (Mixture will be lumpy.)

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4.  Fold in pecans and fruits; spread batter in pan(s).  Bake 1 hour or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.

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5.  Cool breads in pan on wire rack 10 minutes, remove from pan(s) to cool.

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This bread will freeze nicely if wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil..   Thaw at room temperature.     Makes 1 large, or 2 smaller loaves.IMG_8837

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The flavor of eggnog is apparent in this bread, but it is not overly sweet.  We like it lightly toasted and served with coffee.  It’s also a nice snack if served with a glass of cold milk or more eggnog.

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Christmas Greetings

Victorian Father Christmas

Victorian Father Christmas

This Victorian Father Christmas is from my collection of  “Gift Givers”, a series of Christmas figures from many cultures who brought gifts during the Christmas season.  These were all handmade by me, at an earlier time.

To all my readers and faithful followers,  I wish you the warmest thoughts and best wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season, and a very Happy New Year.

I hope your day is filled with good friends, family and good food, for that is what makes happy memories.

 

Decorating Cookies: A Simple Glaze

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When this container appears in my kitchen, it means it’s time to get serious about cookie decorating.  After all, Christmas is only a week away, and the cookies I baked yesterday, must be finished today!

This is how I begin:

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I set up my center island in the kitchen with an old tablecloth, pour myself another cup of coffee, and begin to lay out all the necessary supplies, equipment and other stuff I may or may not use. ( Nice to have it out and handy just in case inspiration strikes.)  It’s time to break out the tools and have some fun.

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If you’re like me you have the cookies all baked, cooled and stored in an airtight container, ready and waiting to be decorated.  This may have been done up to a week ahead.

Next I make the decorative icing.  I used to make royal icing, whipping it up like crazy, covering it with layers of damp paper towels or a cloth towel in an attempt to prevent it from drying out.  I still do make it if I want to get really fancy in my decorating, but for the most part, I get just as much bang for my buck, in a lot less time, with this Simple Cookie Glaze.

Here’s how to make it.   Put the following in a deep mixer bowl:

  • 2  1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1  1/2 to 2 Tbsp. milk, plus 1 teaspoon milk
Ingredients for glaze.

Ingredients for glaze.

Mix together the sugar and corn syrup.  Then add 1  1/2 tablespoons milk, and begin to mix.  As you mix it together you will get a thick, pasty blob forming in the center of the bowl.

Thick blob forms.

Thick blob forms.

Now add 1 more teaspoon milk.  Continue mixing until things begin to smooth out; but it you’re using all your might to draw the whisk (or spoon) through the mixture, or you electric mixer overheats and stops working, (just kidding), you’re allowed to add 1 additional teaspoon milk.

This is what the texture looks like:

Smooth and thinned out.

Smooth and thinned out.

The frosting falls in a ribbon, but disappears back into the pool of frosting in the bowl within a few seconds.

Perfect consistency.

Perfect consistency.

I bring out a few of my re-purposed “to-go” containers with lids.  This glaze can’t be left uncovered for more than a few minutes before it begins to thicken up, dry out, and develop a crust.  So I divide it up into several containers with lids, so that I can tint smaller portions in the colors I plan to use.

Coloring small amount of the glaze.

Coloring small amount of the glaze.

Also, if I know that I will be using this icing again in a day or so, these containers are just right for keeping it moist and ready to go when I need it.  An additional drop or two of milk will loosed it up if it should get a little too thick.

I put some plain glaze in a container, give it a healthy blob of gel paste food coloring, then mix it up.  Dip your cookie into the glaze, or spread it on the cookie with an off-set spatula.  If you want them to be sparkly, sprinkle on some fine decorating sugar, or sprinkles.  If not, just let the glaze dry.  Then you can draw or write on it with food-safe colored pens.  These are great for drawing on faces or accenting details of the cookie mold.

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I like to use squeeze bottles with decorating tips on them to write on cookies or make details.  Just spoon white or colored frosting of choice into the bottle, screw on the cover with tip attached, and gently squeeze the bottle.

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That’s how I made these. Trees with snow on them. Aren’t they cute?

 

With the batch of Swedish Ginger Cookies that I made yesterday, and only 1 batch of the Simple Glaze, I was able to get this variety of cookies.

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It’s easy to make an impressive and colorful assortment of cookies that look like they required more work than they actually did, using this decorating method.

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Now, go……bake,……decorate,……have fun!   🙂

 

Swedish Ginger Cookies ( Pepparkakor)

Swedish Ginger Cookies

Swedish Ginger Cookies

I’m into gingerbread and ginger flavored baked goods in a big way this year.  Don’t know why!   That’s not usually the case in previous years.  But for whatever reason, this year is different and I just can’t get enough ginger-spiced goodness.

This vintage Swedish Ginger Cookie recipe has been in my family for a long time, and I just love to make it.  Besides the fact that the flavor is so perfectly spicy, it makes a LOT of cookies, it can be rolled out thin for cutouts, or rolled into a log, and sliced.  The dough is pliable and handles really well; and you can reroll it at least 3 times without it becoming tough.

Makes lots of cut-out cookies.

Makes lots of cut-out cookies.

The dough is made a little differently than some of the contemporary gingerbread cookie recipes.  Instead of creaming butter and sugar together (like most any cookie recipe), the molasses is heated to boiling, then the butter and sugar are added to it so they melt.  Then you let the mixture cool a little and stir in the egg and dry ingredients.  Really very easy to make. Another reason why I love it;  no need to take out butter to soften up,  you can make these any time you want to with cold, hard butter, because it gets melted.  Hee, Hee!

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It’s recommended that you chill the dough overnight before rolling and cutting so the molasses and butter can firm up, but then you are in for a treat as you work with it.  I love it, but you don’t have to be Swedish to love these cookies.

SWEDISH GINGER COOKIES

Yield:   Makes about 10 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:IMG_8714

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

1.  Heat molasses in a small saucepan to boiling.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.   Add sugar and butter and stir until butter is melted.

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2.  Cool, then beat in the egg.

3.  Whisk or sift together the flour, salt, soda and spices.

Mix spices in with the flour.

Mix spices in with the flour.

Add to molasses mixture and mix thoroughly .

4.  Cover bowl tightly and chill overnight.   When ready to bake, divide the dough into 3 portions and work with one portion at a time, keeping the rest chilled.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

5.  On a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth, roll the dough out thin.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place on greased cookie sheets, or use parchment paper to line the baking sheets.

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Bake at 350*F for 6 – 8 minutes.  The shorter baking time will give you a more chewy cookie,  while the longer time will produce a crisp cookie.

6.  This dough may also be shaped into a log (roll) and wrapped in wax paper or plastic wrap.  Chill thoroughly overnight or longer.  Slice thin and bake in moderate oven (350*).

These cookies should be stored in an airtight container to allow flavors to “ripen”.

My post tomorrow will show you how I decorated these cookies with a simple, easy glaze.   Y’all come back!

SOURCE:   old family recipe

 

 

Festive Swirl Cookies

 

Holiday Swirl Cookies

Festive Swirl Cookies

What began as a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, was transformed into a holiday cookie by substituting red and green swirl morsels for the chocolate chips.  They still offer the crunch and chewiness of a chocolate chip cookie, but with a festive, dressed up appearance.

This could be one of the first cookies you bake, as they are good keepers.  They will stay fresh for 1 week or more in an air-tight container, and they also ship well if you are sending a “care” package any distance.

They may not be as fancy a cookie as some that make their appearance at this time of year, but they are a favorite non-the-less, one that you can count on to always be good.  The cookie dough may be frozen so you can have some ready to bake if unexpected visitors drop by, or the baked cookies may be frozen, and pulled out in a “cookie emergency”.

 

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FESTIVE SWIRL COOKIES

Yield:  2 1/2 – 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2  1/4 cups all-purpose flourIMG_8680
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup swirl morsels, green and red, mixed
  • cooking spray

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Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Coat baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk to blend.

3.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugars and butter.  Beat at medium speed until well combined.  Add vanilla extract and egg whites; beat for 1 minute.

4.  Add flour mixture and mix to incorporate, you may need to stir in part of the flour mixture.  Fold in the chips.

Folding in the chips.

Folding in the chips.

5.  Drop dough by tablespoons, 2-inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets.   Bake at 350*F.  for 10 minutes or until lightly browned, but still soft.  They will firm up as they cool.

6.  Cool on pans for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.  Store in an air-tight container.

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SOURCE:   Cooking Light

 

Leftover Turkey Dinner Baked Dish

 

Leftover Turkey Dinner Baked Dish

Leftover Turkey Dinner Baked Dish

 

Thanksgiving may be over, but there are more winter holidays ahead and that probably means there’s going to be more turkey on your table.  And that means more leftovers.    I have a few standard dishes that I make with leftover turkey beside the all-you-cram-into-it sandwich.  There’s turkey pot pie that we love, (see my chicken pot pie recipe) and turkey tetrazzini, another comforting favorite.  But sometimes you just want to make something new.

Every layer of this dish has something in it that you will love.

Every layer of this dish has something in it that you will love.

Here’s a recipe that is definitely new, because I just made it up.  It’s based on a number of recipes that I had seen for turkey pot-pie, but this is a mash-up that includes your stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It’s like having the whole dinner again in a new form,  and it tastes fabulous all over again too.

LEFTOVER TURKEY DINNER BAKED DISH

Yield:  Makes approximately 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked stuffing
  • 3 -4 Tbsp chicken or turkey broth

    Get out all your bowls of leftovers.

    Get out all your bowls of leftovers.

  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup turkey gravy
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
  • 1 cup vegetables, such as peas, carrots, green beans, small white onions, mushrooms, etc.
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, swiss or cheddar is good
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk or half and half
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, same kind as above.

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, combine stuffing and enough broth to reach desired moistness;  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch square baking dish, or deep dish pie pan.  Bake at 350*F for 10 – 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Make a bottom crust with stuffing.

Make a bottom crust with stuffing.

 

I had a few mushrooms to use up so I cooked them up with some onions.

I had a few mushrooms to use up so I cooked them up with some onions.

2.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and gravy until smooth.  Stir in the turkey, vegetables, grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Spoon over stuffing crust.

Mix vegetables into gravy.

Mix vegetables into gravy.

Stir in cut up turkey.

Stir in cut up turkey.

3.  In a small bowl, combine potatoes and cream to loosen the potatoes and make them spreadable.  Spread over the turkey filling mixture.

Drop mounds of mashed potato over the filling and spread it out.

Drop mounds of mashed potato over the filling and spread it out.

Drizzle with butter, if using;  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

Drizzle with melted butter, if using, and shredded cheese.

Drizzle with melted butter, if using, and shredded cheese.

4..  Bake at 350*F.  for 25 – 30 minutes or until bubbly, heated through and browned.  Serve with additional gravy, that has been warmed.

Hot and bubbly out of the oven.

Hot and bubbly out of the oven.

Serve with additional gravy, if desired.

Serve with additional gravy, if desired.

SOURCE:    A Carolyn’s Original

 

Thanksgiving Day

 

 

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Family, food, friends, football games, marathons, visiting and having fun.  Whatever you may be doing today, I wish you a most happy Thanksgiving.   When you stop and think about all that you have to be thankful for, think about all those people so less fortunate in this world.    Sharing what we have with others is never wrong, especially if it’s food and it’s given from the heart.

I’m taking a break from the kitchen for a few days,  and just chillin’.   Hope you do the same.  Be back again on Monday, folks!

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Delights

Chocolate caramel pretzel delights.

Chocolate caramel pretzel delights.

With Valentine’s Day coming up I decided to try out this recipe that came to my attention over the Christmas holidays, but I never got around to making it.  It is a very easy candy treat that you can make up so quickly it takes hardly any time at all.  Give them as gifts, or keep for yourself.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the sweetness of chocolate and caramel combined with the saltiness of pretzels.    Sooo good!

Serve your treats for Valentine's Day.

Serve your treats for Valentine’s Day.

For these I used pretzels that look like the shape of a heart as the base, but you could use round pretzels, or lattice pretzels, just not long straight ones.  You also need some kind of chocolate covered caramel candy, such as Rolo or similar, and pecan halves. ( Walnut halves would be ok, too).  These chewy little treats are a lot like turtle candies.

Here’s how to make them….

 CHOCOLATE CARAMEL PRETZEL DELIGHTS

Yield:    Make as many as you want.

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 350*F.   Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

2.  Place one pretzel for each treat desired on the prepared sheet.   Top each pretzel with one chocolate caramel candy.

Lay out pretzels on a baking sheet, top each one with a candy.

Lay out pretzels on a baking sheet, top each one with a candy.

3.  Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until candy piece begins to soften, but not melt.

Bake until softened, but not melted.

Bake until softened, but not melted.

Remove from the oven.  Top each with a pecan half and press down lightly.

Top each one with a pecan half.

Top each one with a pecan half.

Cool completely before serving or packaging.

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SOURCE:    Celebrate with Hersheys.comIMG_6172

Eat These and Have Good Luck!

Happy New Year, my friends!  I’ve been away from home for the holidays, and not doing a lot of cooking, (eating–yes,yes!) so my posts have been a little leaner than usual.  The subject of “foods that bring good luck” came up in a conversation, so I did  a little research and found some interesting facts that I thought might be of interest to you, as they were to me.  In planning meals over the next few days you might want to consider the following.

In many cultures certain foods are thought to bring good luck, especially those eaten on New Year’s Day.  With today being the first day of the new year I though it might be fun to see what some of those foods are and possibly how to incorporate them into a celebration menu.

In Spain, revelers mark the New Year by quickly eating a dozen grapes at midnight.  The fruits are thought to be a predictor of the year ahead:  each sweet grape represents a good month, each sour grape a less-than-lucky one.  You might adopt this tradition by threading grapes onto skewers and serve each one in a glass of Champagne just before the countdown.

In Italy, lentils are served because an abundance of the tiny legumes symbolizes wealth.  Turn this tradition into a flavorful and hearty lentil soup, to ensure the best year possible.

Circular foods, those that are in the form of a ring, are thought to bring good luck.  Possibly because they symbolize “coming full circle”.   A big bag of doughnuts seems like a fine idea for making this one a reality.

In some Eastern European countries, a coin baked into a loaf of bread is said to bring luck to the person who finds it.  A marble pound cake with a coin or two baked in it would make a fancy enough dessert if served with a dessert wine.

One of Japan’s beloved foods, soba, or buckwheat noodles, are customarily eaten at midnight on December 31, when they are called  toshi-koshi (“from one year to another”) soba.  The noodles symbolize longevity, so the longer they are, the better.  Any Asian dish that incorporates soba noodles would make a perfect entree for this custom.

In the southern U.S. many folks eat greens on New Year’s Day.  Collards and other greens are considered lucky because they look like greenbacks.  Collards and black eyed peas are a common combination for the New Year. (Often served with ham.)

Going along with the above tradition is this one for eating pork.  Ham, because of its fat is served to bring a New Year rich with happiness.

Cornbread is another southern dish that gets served along with the ham, collards and black eyed peas.  Cornbread, because of its yellow color, represents the glories of gold.

If I were serving a meal to ring in the New Year (which I am not),  my menu might look something like this:

Champagne Cocktail with grape skewer garnish

Sausage & Lentil Soup

Asian Noodle Salad

Orange Marmalade-Glazed Baked Ham

Collard Greens and Black-eyed Peas

Cornbread with Chive Butter

Chocolate Ganache-Glazed Marble Pound Cake

Cake Doughnuts with French Vanilla Ice Cream

Coffee

Thankfully, I won’t be eating a meal like this one.  If I did I would need a  crane to lift me away from the table!  I think in the end, you could overdo this “good luck” thing, but it was fun playing around with it.

However you will be spending the first day of 2014,  I hope you have fun with family, friends and, of course, good food.

St. Lucia Buns

St Lucia Buns

St Lucia Buns

As I write this post it is St. Lucia day.  The day that Scandinavian families celebrate Saint Lucia, a symbol of hope and light in dark times.    Briefly, the festival of St. Lucia begins the Christmas season in Swedish custom, and she comes as a young girl crowned with fresh greens and lit candles carrying a tray of baked goods.  These sweet spiral buns are traditionally served on this day.  However they can be served anytime, and so I include the recipe today with thoughts of how special they would be on Christmas morning.IMG_5988

Originally candles were woven into the greens making up the wreath, but now-a-days, battery operated candles are used instead.  A young girl is chosen to represent St. Lucia and wearing a long white garment with a crown of greens and candles on her head, she carries the tray of buns and leads a procession of young girls and boys, singing the traditional St. Lucia songs.

Lucia celebrations include ginger snaps and sweet saffron-flavored buns shaped like curled up cats.  Sometimes raisins are placed in the center of the spirals to represent eyes.  You eat them with glögg (spiced wine) or coffee.

Delicious with coffee for breakfast.

Delicious with coffee for breakfast.

St. Lucia Buns are also called Swedish Saffron Christmas Bread.  This is one of the easiest yeast breads I’ve ever made.  It’s almost no-knead, and the dough can be refrigerated overnight, which is a nice convenience if you’re considering these for breakfast.  The flavor of these buns is outstanding and the golden color is achieved through the inclusion of saffron.  They are light and airy with a sprinkle of pearl sugar on top.  Swedish pearl sugar is a non-melting sugar that can be found in some large grocery stores or ordered online.

St. LUCIA BUNS:  SWEDISH SAFFRON CHRISTMAS BREAD

Yield:  24 buns

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water, 110*F to 115*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 to  4  1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • Swedish pearl sugar

Directions:

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the yeast in the warm water;  stir gently and briefly with a fork.  Add 1 Tablespoon of the sugar;  stir again.  Let the mixture stand until the yeast foams, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining sugar, butter, cream, milk, saffron, salt and eggs.  Fit mixer with the paddle attachment and beat well on medium-low speed until combined.  Remove paddle attachment from mixer and fit with the dough hook.  Add flour 1 cup at a time mixing well with each addition to keep the dough smooth and satiny.  You may not need to use all of the flour.

2.  Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

3.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 24 even pieces (about 2-inches square.)

Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces.  (good luck with that!)

Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. (good luck with that!)

Roll each square into a long rope, about 12-inches long.  Curl each end of a rope in opposite directions, creating an “S” shape.

Form the ropes of dough into spiral shapes.

Form the ropes of dough into spiral shapes.

Lift the bun onto the parchment; repeat curling with remaining dough ropes until there are 12 per baking sheet.

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5.  For the glaze, beat the egg in a custard cup and stir in the milk.  Brush each bun with the glaze then sprinkle pearl sugar over the top.  Place baking sheets in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

6.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.

An egg wash before going into the oven makes a shining golden crust.

An egg wash before going into the oven makes a shiny golden crust.

St Lucia Buns

St Lucia Buns

SOURCE:   The Big Book of Bread Recipes