Sunday, January 31, 2016

Enjoying Downton with a Chelsea Bun or Two

I LOVE Downton Abbey. (I want Lady Mary's entire outfit pronto.  I am confident I could pull it off.)
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Since we will get to the Downton talk later, let's focus on another love... my love of cinnamon rolls.  Before you go any further though, check out those shoes!  How about that coat?!!  I am dying over the red dress.  Oh my.  Focus!

I do love a good cinnamon roll but don't fall for just any roll.  I can easily resist those things out of a can.  I have a will of iron and steel when it comes to those covered in a five inch layer of cream cheese frosting. Bleh. I never consume the poor excuse, pre-baked, cellophane-wrapped jobs on the shelves at the mini-mart.  As I mentioned before, I love a GOOD cinnamon roll.  If it is homemade, from scratch, with the right ratio of roll to filling to topping, well... I find it really hard to resist that yeasty, sweet treat. 

With the weather turning a little colder and rainier, I decided cinnamon rolls were in order this weekend.  Knowing I needed to bake for Downton, I wanted to save myself from having a stockpile of sweet treats lying about the house.  I quickly set out to investigate if the British have a cinnamon roll in their repertoire.  Guess what... they do!

Tonight's accompaniment to Downton Abbey is the Chelsea Bun.

Chelsea Buns are a warm, sticky roll filled with cinnamon sugar and dried fruits, topped with a delicious icing.  As I completed my research, I could almost taste the final product as I perused the ingredients.  Below, you will find how I completed my version of the Chelsea Bun.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil to grease the rising bowl

Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped

Topping Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam
  • water
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 orange (optional)
Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the package of yeast.

Warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted.  Do not allow the milk to come to a boil.  Slowly pour into the flour mixture.  Add the egg and stir the mixture together until the dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes.  Dough should become smooth and elastic.

Oil a large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in center.  Cover with plastic wrap and place into a warm, draft-free area for an 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

Once dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap (WARNING: The scent is intoxicating!) and turn onto a floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12" x 8" rectangle.  Butter a 9"x13" baking dish and set aside.

If the dried fruit has not yet been chopped, place into a food processor and pulse until small chunks have formed.  In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, and chopped dried fruit.

Brush the dough with the melted butter and evenly sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, fruit mixture.

Begin tightly rolling the dough from the long side furthest from you, to form a log. 

Cut 1 3/4" rolls from the log.  There should be about 10 rolls.  I cut them a little larger so I ended up with nine. Place the rolls into the buttered dish, about 1/2" apart.  Cover, set in a warm place, and let rise for another 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove plastic wrap and place into a preheated 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven. 

Bake buns for 20 to 25 minutes.  While they bake, find something productive to do.  The scent of these treats as they bake is just too much.  There were several moments I thought I would just open the door and pinch off a piece.  Soo incredible. 

Once golden brown, remove from oven.  In a small bowl, mix jam and a little water. Place in microwave approximately 10 seconds and stir until smooth. Brush the glaze over the buns.  Allow to cool on a baking rack.  Don't they look stunning?  They smell divine.

Once buns have cooled, transfer to a serving plate.  Mix the powdered sugar, orange zest (if using) and two tablespoons water or milk.  Drizzle over cooled buns and allow to set before serving.

What a gorgeous sight!

Speaking of gorgeous sights... I was thrilled to see Gwen again. 
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While she was only in the house a short time, I did get choked up when she spoke of Lady Sybil helping her get the secretary job in the city.  I also agonized over Thomas outing her to the family over the meal.  What a putz!  He really IS his own worst enemy.  It is almost like he is that child who needs attention and doesn't care if it is positive or negative... so long as he gets others to notice him.

I must admit Robert looked like a royal pain when he celebrated the fact that Mrs. Carson would continue to be known as Mrs. Hughes in the house.  If she wants to keep her name, I am all for that but his reaction was a little too joyful for my liking.  Maybe I am just too sensitive about such things.  I did get teary when Mr. Carson checked his empty room.  He lived there for soo long.  Even though he is happily moving forward in his life, there was still sadness at that ending.

Mr. Carson wasn't the only one to choke me up, I was soo excited for Mr. Bates to figure out what was going on with Anna.  Do you think everything will work out?  We can only hope.

Well, tonight's episode has loaded onto my DVR and I am just waiting for the littles to head to bed.  Time to prep my cup of Spiced Pear tea from the Tea Cozy and enjoy my first Chelsea Bun
Good Downton Night to you!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chocolate Cherry Scones with a side of Downton Abbey Drama

Last week's episode of Downton Abbey was perfection.  It definitely had its highs and lows.  My stomach dropped to rock bottom when Cora yelled at the ladies from downstairs for trying on her coats.  Don't you know they wanted to DIE when she did?!  With the way her mood was going, I am surprised Cora didn't fire them on the spot.  I was soo glad when she went down to apologize for her poor behavior.  Classy move.

While the story line was riveting, my favorite moments included:

1.  When Edith took charge of her magazine.  She fired her jerk editor and took on the role herself.  I love that she decided to truly embrace the modern woman she had only previously pretended to be.  I also thoroughly enjoyed her smile at her pride in a REAL job well done.
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2.  The announcement of Mr. & Mrs. Carson!  From the moment they held hands at the shore, this was the scene every Downton fan anticipated. Oh, they looked beautiful in their smart clothes.  Cora's coat made our bride shine on HER day... in the church and then at the reception.  Did you get a glimpse of the food tables?  Whoa!  I saw some beautiful things I have yet to try... and will probably wait until someone else makes them for me.  They looked elaborate.
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3.  The ULTIMATE moment of episode three had to be the beautiful reunion of Branson and the Crawleys.  When he walked in the door with little Sybie, well, I am quite sure there were cheers of joy across America as everyone drank in the moment.  I don't like that he upstaged the bride and groom but I love how he has come to appreciate his new identity as a member of one of Britain's leading families.  Way to go, Tom!
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Because I have been caring for a sick kiddo all weekend, my desire to prepare an involved dessert for Downton Night was just not there.  I chose instead, to prepare a decadent scone to enjoy with episode four.  So, sit back and check out these amazing Chocolate Cherry Scones!


2 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and very cold
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Heavy cream or milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment.

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

Cut the very cold butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter.

Chop the chocolate and cherries.
I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I had wanted to use the mini chips I had purchased on my last trip to their chocolate store but it appears my husband has eaten them all.  He is really good about consuming my baking chips on his late night snacking adventures.  Regularly sized chips or bars work as well, they just need to be chopped coarsely to ensure they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Using a fork, stir the chopped chocolate and cherries until well combined.

In a wet measuring cup, combine the milk, egg yolk and extracts.  With a fork, slowly stir in the wet ingredients into the dry until the dough forms wet clumps.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together into a ball.  Press dough into a disk, 3/4" high.

Use either a cutter to cut the dough into shapes or use a very sharp knife to cut into evenly shaped wedges.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced one inch apart.

Brush scones with heavy cream or milk and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.  Bake until scones are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee... morning, noon or night!  In fact, these scones would be a delicious addition to a tea party, a Mother's Day brunch, a Valentine's Day breakfast, or maybe even while viewing another favorite show... When Calls the Heart.  Hearties, are you out there?  You have GOT to give these a try when season three begins in February.

Now, let's bring on tonight's installment of Downton Abbey!  Will we get a glimpse of Lady Mary in this dazzling frock?  Oh, how I wish I could wear this one.  GORGEOUS!
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