Friday, 18 April 2014

Recipe for home baked Easter bread.

 My mother made Easter Bread every Easter and it became a tradition in my family.
 In Dutch we call this bread "Krentewegge", like bread filled with raisins.
 I kept this tradition and make this bread for Christmas and Easter and my children,now adults grew up with  this tradition in New Zealand.
 I am maybe not using entirely my mothers recipe, but I made it my own and I love to share this recipe with you, let me  know what you think!

A week before Easter I make the almond paste and leave this paste in aluminium foil to mature in the fridge.
This makes the almond paste yummy!

Almond paste:
250 grams of ground almond
200 grams of sugar
1 egg
A little vanilla essence
Grated rind of one lemon.
Mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, wrap in aluminium foil and leave in the fridge.
The bread warm out of the oven.
The recipe for the bread:
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp dried yeast
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tsp of salt
4 cups of flour
1/2 packet of raisins.

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water, then sprinkle the yeast into the water. Add the oil and stir.
Leave to sit for 10 minutes till the yeast mixture starts to bubble.

Mixing the ingredients
Add the remaining ingredients except the raisins.
I leave the raisins to soak in a bit of fruit juice to make them softer, the raisins are added after the first rise of the bread.
Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon till the dough becomes away from the side of the bowl. 
Sometimes when the mixture is to dry I add a little extra water.

I take the dough out of the bowl and sprinkle just enough flour on the bench to stop the dough sticking. I knead the dough till smooth and satiny and not sticking to my hands anymore.                                                
The kneaded dough
When I was making the bread it was a cold and rainy day, so I placed a hot water bottle under the bowl to let the dough rise till twice the size.
The dough rising with help of a hot water bottle
After 2 hours take the dough out of the bowl and when it is sticky place a bit of flour on the bench before kneading.
Drain the raisins and dry in a clean tea towel before kneading through the dough, I add the raisins in small amounts.
The almond paste is rolled into a long piece and placed into the open folded bread.
I close the bread and push the sides together and leave the bread to rise again for 2 hours till double in size.

With fruit and almond paste
Risen dough ready to go into the oven
Bake the bread in a hot oven 180 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes till sounds hollow when tapped with a knife. The bread is nice with butter or a little icing sugar sprinkled on top.
Ready to eat.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Bird nests made from Cabbage Tree leaves.

Close up with a decoupaged egg in the shabby chic nest

This coming Thursday I am part of organizing a morning tea for the elderly in our village and because Easter is this weekend I like to have some different Easter decorations on the tables.
All the visitors will get a little Easter gift bag with chocolate eggs  from my friend Jean volunteering as the Easter Bunny.
In New Zealand the Cabbage tree is part of the New Zealand landscape and a native tree.
Also many gardens have Cabbage Trees, my garden has the cultivated smaller Cabbage trees.
The leaves are tough and the tree sheds its leaves and often those are dried up and also great to use as a fire lighter to start the wood burner.
The small wreaths made from Cabbage Tree leaves
 I collected some leaves and wove those into small wreaths. I used a spray can to spray the wreaths gold.
Coloured feathers.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Grape picking in Kina Vineyard

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes
Only a few weeks ago I helped with picking grapes at Kina Vineyard in Tasman.
The week before we picked the Pinot Noir grapes, much easier then picking the Sauvignon Blanc Grapes, because as you pick you need to remove the slightly mouldy grapes if necessary out of the bunches.
We had a good team, some regular workers and also backpackers from France, Germany and Malaysia.
You work under the bird netting, so sometimes this can be a bit hot, especially in the afternoon with the sun on your back and not a lot of breeze coming through the netting.
The pickers fill the buckets and the buckets get emptied
in big crates.
The grapes go into a cool store before they are processed, because this allows the sugar content to increase.
The Kina Vineyard has won a few awards for its Sauvignon Blanc wine.

The pickers

Ready for picking, beautiful grapes

The buckets of picked grapes.