Homemade Hot Cross Buns

I’ve got a great recipe for homemade hot cross buns.  Also, I have a ton of exciting news!

First: If you don’t feel like making 30 hot cross buns with this recipe I’m bringing to Fiesta Friday today, after a long and regretted absence on my part, you can make two giant hot cross buns and just bake them a little bit longer than for individual buns.

It’s wonderful to be back to this Friday gathering and thanks so much to Petra and Lin for hosting this week.


This Easter I had 15 hot cross buns and 1 hot cross loaf and both iterations of the recipe turned out delicious.  Since I nearly always use whatever flour I have on hand for baking, I’ve used half spelt flour which gave an added earthiness and detracted from the usually very sweet taste of hot cross buns, at least for my palate.

Next:  As many of you know, we moved to Vancouver, WA in August last year!

Ladd’s Addition Neighborhood, Portland, OR

Cathedral Park, St. John’s Neighborhood, Portland, OR

More pics at end of post . . . .

The weeks leading up to the move really socked it to my emotional equanimity but once we arrived, all turned out well.  Vancouver is just across the bridge, literally, from Portland, OR, where I work and where I’ve been eating my way through town.  My husband took a job in Amboy, WA, which is kind of in the middle of nowhere but wow is it beautiful country out there.  Stay tuned in the coming months as I share with you all about our move, how strange and fabulous Portland is, and what I’ve been up to in my kitchen and out at restaurants.  For now, I’ve got these awesome hot cross buns, some winter and fun Portland and Washington pics, and a giant hug to all my old friends who are a part of the Fiesta Friday community.

Finally: I’ve also begun writing restaurant reviews with the amazing ladies over at Female Foodie.  Another double-F for the win!  I’m beyond excited, and honored to be a part of this community that not only has the most delicious restaurant recommendation resources for anybody who loves to travel, but also some invaluable information and tools including photography and wordpress blogging tutorials for aspiring food blogger/photographer entrepreneurs.  I have truly learned a ton about photography, monetization, and social media as it relates to food blogging via these gals.  I especially want to mention that for the Female Foodie elite members, there is an upcoming (next Tuesday) webinar with Si Foster from A Bountiful Kitchen who has been a very successful food blogger since 2008.  She will talk to us about her experience growing a food blog/business dedicated to tried and true recipes for the at home cook trying to make practical and delicious food, and will be available for questions.  Since I am trying myself to navigate whether I want to put some more intention and business mindedness into my blog, I for sure will be attending.  Join me!!

Very finally, definitely hop on over there to read my bittersweet burger goodbye song review of one of my favorite places in Los Angeles:  The Apple Pan.

Now, for the homemade hot cross buns recipe:

For the Buns:

  • 300 ml milk (full fat)
  • 50 butter
  • 500 g bread flour:  250 g white flour; 250 g spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 25 g corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 packet fast-action yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 75 g golden raisins
  • 50 g zested citrus
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped

For the Cross:

  • 75 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the Glaze:

  • 3 Tbsp apricot jam, thinned with 1/2 tsp water


  1. Bring milk to a boil, remove from heat and add butter.  Leave to cool until at room temperature.  Place flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl, making a well in the middle.  Pour in the milk and butter mixture, then add the egg.  Mix well with a wooden spoon, and gather the mix together with your hands until you have a somewhat sticky dough.
  2. Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling wrap and leave to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.
  3. Mix raisins, peel, apple and cinnamon into the dough.  Leave to rise for 1 more hour, until doubled in size.
  4. Divide dough into 15 pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball.  Arrange buns on two baking trays, either oiled or lined with parchment paper, leaving a bit of space for the buns to expand.  Cover with oiled cling wrap, or a tea towel, and set aside for 1 more hour.
  5. Heat oven to 220/200C (400-425F).  Make the cross slurry with flour and 5 Tbsp water, adding the water 1 tbps at a time.  Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle.  Pile along each row of buns, and repeat in other direction to form crosses.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Heat the jam and water very gently and strain out chunks.  While still warm, brush over the buns.

Now for some fun pics:

Amboy, WA

Moulton Falls, WA

Cedar Creek Mill, Cedar Creek, WA

Amboy, WA

The Mill

Amboy, WA


Burnside Bridge, Portland, OR

View From Office in Portland, OR

Upper Left Roasters, Ladd’s Addition Neighborhood, Portland, OR

Sweedeedee, Portland, OR

Red Sauce Pizza, Cully Neighborhood, Portland, OR

Cathedral Park, St. John’s Neighborhood, Portland, OR

An Historic Montecito Adobe

This is a part of the story of The Bennett Adobe, now Hacienda Guadalupana, an old adobe in the flats of Montecito.

Hacienda Guadalupana Side Orange Door

Scoping out Montecito:

I spotted this home on my return to Santa Monica from Isla Vista after visiting with my son in his college environs.  It’s on the corner of a narrow, non-sidewalked street in Montecito.  It’s a street near the beach but east of the train tracks, abutting the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner tracks that span a portion of the California Mission Trail (the San Diego to San Luis Obispo portion of the trail that marks the historic attempted Spanish colonization of what was originally Mexico and is now California).  The flats of Montecito are like this . . . lots of curving, narrow streets without any sidewalks and scarce auto traffic.

Since childhood I have always been strongly drawn for unknown reasons to the history of the California Missions and can remember making countless mock-ups and making countless visits.  Something about the missions captured my imagination and curiosity as a young child, and now as an older person I’m equally curious but probably for entirely different reasons . . . namely, imagining how Fransiscan spirituality coexisted with what it took to build and defend the missions, and confirm Spanish historic claims to the territory:  the forced labor of unpaid Native Americans.  Just saying. And did you know, part of Spain’s motivation to settle Las Californias, was to stay the Russian colonization efforts further north (and forestall intrusion into their territory) in what is now Bodega Bay!  Yes, Russian fur trapping colonists set up at what is now Fort Ross, on their way down from Alaska.  True!!

But back to Montecito:

A bucolic paradise of rolling hills, mountains, coastline, and citrus, olive tree and grape vine groves, Montecito is also an architectural wonderland set apart for its Spanish Colonial Revival homes and estates, but also boasting lovely examples of Moorish, Mission Revival, Cottage-Style and historic adobe architecture.  Montecito is  unmistakably tony now as well, with a town center/mart that is home to some very chic brands.  The air can be somewhat rarified in Montecito, and yet I still find it warm, personable and casual.

Now Back to the House:

At first glimpse, from the 101 south where I was sitting, sitting, sitting (in traffic), I thought the home was a mission outpost, or some other mission related building, because it had a very old look and appeared to be under construction for restoration. And I could see a sort of “title” on the wooden gate that was part of the adobe/brick wall that surrounded the property.  I was so curious that I exited the freeway, turned around, and parked in some gravel off the side of the road in front of the property.

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful enclosing wall and it’s deep orange wooden gate with the inscription “Hacienda Guadalupana” in a distinctive architectural font.  To the right of the gate was a carefully trained, old and lush vine of pale pink “climber” roses and on either side of the gate was a terracota pot of rosemary.

The gate was arch-shaped but the door was rectangular, making a peek window so that you could see past the wall into the front yard and toward the  front of the home.   Everything looked immaculate, peaceful and well thought out.  A most inviting space to be sure.  So inviting I did a little discreet peeping.

Hacienda Guadalupana Front Orange Door cropped

Inside the wall but on the periphery of the property were meandering low boxwood hedges that gave definition to the red brick walkways and grass, and around the perimeter of the home featured shallow flower beds with orange succulents, and interspersed with terracotta planters of agaves, ficus, and other native plants.

Hacienda Guadalupana Side

The front of the house had a lovely mural-type tile depicting a grand Spanish building or church, which was placed directly underneath a lantern, and the side of the house had a Virgin Mary tile and underneath, an external ceramic tile that read “La Casa de la Abuela,” . . . meaning Grandmother’s house.

Casa Guadalupana Close Up Tile Windows Front

Hacienda Guadalupana Close up Tile Back

Beyond the boxwood hedges, and between a very short barrier wall and the edge of the property on the northern side were citrus trees.Hacienda Guadalupana Sun Tile

I walked around the side of the wall and saw a lovely inscription that read, “R.E. Bennett Adobe,”  “Dios Nos Lo Dio, 1947” the latter part which means, “God Gave Us, 1947,” and at the end of that archway was a perfectly placed large pot of red impatiens.

Hacienda Guadalupana Los Dios 1947

Finally, although I have not (yet?) seen inside the house, I did find this photograph of the interior courtyard.  What lovely tilework!

Winnie in courtyard

Who Owns or Owned this House?

When I returned home I went on a hunt for information, any information, on this beautiful home and I found several articles in local newspapers and magazines about the Bennett Adobe, owned by Robert and Winni Bennett.  This information and the photographs were gathered from these articles as well as the family’s website dedicated to Winni’s memory, as she recently passed away last December.  I am still not clear and have not heard back from the family as to the present ownership, but I assume it has been kept in the family.

More About Winni Bennett:

Winifred B. Bennett (Winni) was born in Downey, CA on January 28, 1024 to Ethelyn (Lynn) Liddell Gage and Winthrop Southworth Gage (aka John Tighe Huntley).

Photo from Winni Bennett Blog

When she was two years old her parents separated.  Sadly, Winni spent time living in foster homes until she was 8 when her parents reunited and the family lived together in Los Angeles with Winni’shalf sister, Margie. Her father worked many jobs, including as an ambulance driver at the LA County General Hospital. He flew airplanes, raced cars, sold vacuums, and was an accomplished cartoonist and photographer.  The family moved between Michigan and California during the Depression for work, settling later in Los Angeles and San Fernando primarily.  When Winni was 17 her father joined the Army.  Tragically, he died one year later while taking pictures over the Himalayans.

Winni ventured north to Santa Barbara to inquire about attending the Normal School Court, which eventually became The University of California at Santa Barbara.  With plans to become an airlines stewardess, she met and began dating Robert E. Bennett, born in Mexico and a radioman stationed at the Campbell Ranch in Santa Barbara. Apparently when he heard of her plans to become an airline stewardess he proposed marriage, she accepted, and they married in 1946.

In 1947 the newlyweds bought 3/4 acre of raw land for $2,000 in Montecito, and began building their adobe home.

Winnie and Bob raised 6 children in the home, which they built by hand, often using materials they drove up from Mexico.


In 1965 Bob retired and decided to move the family to Mexico.  As her family reports, characteristically for the age, the wife did what the husband decided, even though Winni did not want to leave Montecito.  After 8 months of giving her best efforts, one day, she gathered all 6 kids into the car and returned to Santa Barbara, without Bob.

Amazingly, Winni managed to pay the family’s expenses, including paying off the mortgage, by making a home for 6 mentally challenged women, and retired after 15 years.

After their son Daniel died in 1985, Winni and Bob began to form a friendship again and Bob returned to the Adobe often from his home in Chula Vista, CA to visit with their 5 grandchildren. Her children tended to her in her last few years and she passed away with the help of home hospice, in her home, on December 14, 2015.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of this home and the partial story of the Bennett family as much as I enjoyed photographing the home and learning about its history.

The biographical information mentioned above was collected by David Bury and Maria (Bennett) Mikhailas


Steamed and Seared Cabbage

This week I’m taking you over to my friend and fellow blogger Elaine’s site to widen your horizons with vegetables via her “Pimp your Veg” series.  I’m employing a method that imparts a lot of great texture and flavor to the humbles and sometimes blandest veg, the cabbage.


Pimped Veg on Toast with Egg

I’m bringing this dish, by way of Elaine, to Fiesta Friday #101 along with generous thanks to this week’s hosts Jhuls@thenotsocreativecook and my fellow meat and basset hound lover Mr. Fitz@cookingwithmrfitz 

Let’s all say a very hearty thank you and congratulations to Angie@thenovicegardener for creating this wonderful community.  May the next 100 be as awesome and delicious as the first 100 parties.  Happy New Year y’all!

Heirloom Cottage Cheese Pie

“This is the worst pie I’ve ever tasted.”  -my Dad.

How’s that for an enticement?  Do keep in mind that my Dad said this after eating a bite of my mother’s pumpkin pie which is always sublime, and keep in mind that my Dad is a little bit set in his ways.  I’m thinking if he sees a white pie, he’s thinking cheesecake, and that’s not what he got here.

My husband, however, ate his whole piece and proclaimed it delicious.  He is the best Santa’s elf ever!  Always such a good sport, will try any crazy thing I cook up.

This pie is an heirloom Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, with German, Quaker and Mennonite roots.  It is a very simple recipe and, I think, makes for a very delicious pie.  It sort of reminds me of a ricotta cheesecake but with more texture and without the graham crust.  You have to be prepared to taste a little bit of savory/sour, along with the sweet, and I think it’s best eaten on its own and not after a bite of pumpkin pie.

I made this pie for Christmas Eve dinner, and also to bring to Fiesta Friday #100.  Stay tuned because I’ll be bringing more!  Happy Anniversary to everybody who’s been a part of Fiesta Friday and as always I send my gratitude and thanks to Angie for making this all possible.

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christmas eve 2 (3 of 3)

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Pie Filling: Adapted from Shockingly Delicious

  • 1.5 cartons cottage cheese (1 16-ounce regular size carton and half of another 16 oz carton)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • ¾-1 cup sugar
  • 2 well beaten eggs
  • Grated rind and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Unbaked pie crust (see recipe below)
  • pinch nutmeg, either freshly grated or prepared ground

Read More

Lodge Bread Co.

#”Live Free and Bake.” – Lodge Bread Co.

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I was going to title this post “Toast in Los Angeles” but for journalistic integrity I had to change it to because the only place (besides home) I’ve actually been having toast in Los Angeles is the wonderful new Lodge Bread Co. Read More