Where is this beautiful place, you might wonder? So let me tell you about last weekend. We spontaneously decided that we wanted a weekend away from Istanbul as the weather forecast looked very poor and we felt like it was about time again to explore some new regions in Turkey. Initially we planed on going to Izmir but I wasn’t in the mood for such a long drive. So I literally put my finger on a map, went a little north of Izmir (closer to Istanbul) and stopped at an island, which is just a stone, throw away from Lesbos, Greece. Our destination for the weekend, Cunda island, a 4.5 h drive from Istanbul.
A word a blow and the alarm went off at 5 am on Saturday morning. The day before I had prepared a picnic basket with English Hot Cross Buns, raspberry chia jam and coconut chia cream. I had hoped that we would find a nice spot on the way but unfortunately almost the entire route was built up with houses and factories. And so we quickly agreed it was better to wait for some peaceful greenery than sitting next to the highway. In hindsight, this was the best decision. Because as soon as we reached Cunda island, or how I would call it “the island of olive trees”, I spotted the perfect tree for our picnic.
Surrounded by olive trees with a view of the sea, we stretched our blanket and started eating. It was my first time baking hot cross buns. Until then I only knew the sweet buns you get at some commercial coffee shops in England. Not bad, but not good either. So I was excited to try my hands at a slightly less sweet and vegan recipe. The original recipe calls for raisins but I’m not too fond of raisons as there are much tastier dried fruits that work really well in hot cross buns too. I went for dried sour cherries and fresh apples. Hot Cross Buns taste best right out of the oven. I recommend serving them with some coconut cream and raspberry chia jam.
English Hot Cross Buns
- 125 ml / 0.5 cups lukewarm plant based milk
- 125 ml / 0.5 cups lukewarm water
- 9 grams / 1 sachet of active dry yeast
- 4 tbsp coconut sugar
- 500 grams /4 cups organic wheat flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp orange zest
- pinch of salt
- 80 grams dried cherries (or 50 grams cherries and 0.5 apple, cored and finely chopped)
- 70 ml grape-seed oil
- 4-6 tbsp apricot jam (or any other light/yellow jam)
- 4 tbsp flour
- 6 tbsp water
- Start by mixing lukewarm plant based milk and water together (if your milk is still too cold, heat the water and mix hot water with cold milk to get a lukewarm mixture), add sugar and yeast. Wait for 10 min and check if you can see some foam on the surface. That means your yeast is activated and ready to go.
- Add 500 grams of flour, coconut sugar, oil, cinnamon, orange zest and salt to the milk yeast mixture and combine all ingredients.
- On a lightly floured surface knead dough for 5-7 min...knead knead knead. Add dried cherries (and apples) and knead again for another 2 min.
- Form a ball, put it back into the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and put it at a warm place for at least one hour.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, knead dough again shortly and divide into 8 smaller balls and place those on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel again and wait for another 30 min.
- In the meanwhile make the paste for the cross and mix 4 tbsp of flour with 6 tbsp of water and spoon into piping back.
- Preheat over to 180 °C / 350 °F.
- Pipe a cross on each bun and bake for 20 min.
- Heat apricot jam and brush over the warm top of the buns.
- Serve with coconut whip and raspberry chia jam.