Blackberries in winter

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Blackberries are, for me, the most winter-y of all fruits.  There is something about their jewel-like shapes and dramatic colour that makes them particularly well suited for these darker months.  And although they are in season and most perfect, ripe for the picking, during the early autumn (when these recipes were in fact shot), they are easily found in the supermarkets right through the winter months, intended for porridge topping and jam making.  They have a sweet-tart thing going on, which makes them wonderful for desserts- they come into their own baked into cakes and crumbles.  But they can also be served with meat, in particular game and, as I’ve done here, in a simple winter salad.  The recipe for thumb cookies is a take on a traditional Swedish cookie called often made with raspberry jam called ‘hallongrottor’ which literally translates to rasbberry ‘caves.’  As a child I couldn’t resist them and always pestered my aunt to make them whenever she came to visit.  Potato flour (note, flour NOT starch!)  is super silky and adds a wonderful crumbly texture to the cookies. If you can’t find it, you can either substitute with more plain flour or try adding a little cornflour. 

All photographs here are by Faith Mason, do have a look at more of her work on her site!

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Kale, Cobnut and Blackberry Salad
Serves 4

You will need:
For the salad
2 large handfuls cobnuts (or use shelled hazelnuts if out of season)
1 bag kale- i used a mixture of green and purple
1 lime- juiced
1 punnet black berries

For the dressing
100g blackberries
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked 

Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.  Crack open the cobnut and remove from their leafy and hard shells.  Place on an oven tray and toast for about 20 mins, until golden, tossing halfway through.  Allow to cool completely. 

2)  Meanwhile, tear the kale into smaller pieces, discarding any larger woody stems.  Place in a large bowl along with the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt.  Gently massage the leaves for a few minutes, until they start to break down and become more tender- you’ll notice a gradual change in colour as they go darker.  Add the blackberries and cobnuts and toss.

3)  Blitz the blackberries, balsamic and olive oil along with a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.  Add the thyme leaves and blitz for another few seconds.  Use to dress the salad.

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double blackberryGinger, mint and blackberry fizz
Serves 2

You will need:
150g blackberries
small handfull mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 ball stem ginger, roughly choppped plus 1 tbsp of the syrup
1 tsp golden caster sugar
50 ml bourbon
ice
ginger ale
mint sprigs, to serve

Method:
1) Blitz together the blackberries, mint, ginger, syrup and sugar.  Strain through a fine mesh seive.  Add to a cocktail shaker with the bourbon and a large handful of ice.  Shake vigrously, then pour into two ice filled glasses.  Top with ginger ale and garnish with a mint sprig.

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Blackberry, vanilla and bay thumb cookies
Makes aprox 30 cookies

You will need:
150g blackberries (fresh or frozen)
4 fresh bay leaves
150g golden caster sugar
240g plain flour
80g potato flour
pinch vanilla powder
1 tsp baking powder
225g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Method:
1) Place the blackberries, bay leaves and 50g of the sugar in a saucepan along with about 50ml of water.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the fruit has completely broken down and is very jammy.  Allow to cool completely. 

2)  Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a baking sheet with parchment.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining sugar, flours, vanilla and baking powder.  Add the cubed butter and mix together with your finger tips, working quickly to form a dough.  Alternatively, pulse in a magimix. 

3.  Roll the dough into small balls- about the size of a walnut.  Place these on the baking sheet before carefully making small indents into each with your thumb.  Don’t worry if the dough cracks a bit, the cookies will still hold together.  Fill each hole with a spoonfull of the jam.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just starting to turn golden.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

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Danish Rye

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                                                                                                                                   Nyhavn

I haven’t been to Copenhagen since I was quite young and my memories of the city are a bit hazy.  I think at the time I was most excited about seeing the mermaid statue- Disney to blame there, I’m afraid.   But it is fair to say that it was a much busier, livelier city than I remembered or expected.  Perhaps because I’m used to the relative peace and quiet of Stockholm, despite being a bigger city- at least in terms of population (or so Google tells me).   It seems like (and the Stockholmer in me can’t quite believe I’m saying this) somewhere with a bit more going on.  

While this buzz felt really exciting, I left feeling that it’s a city that has gained an international reputation (not least when it comes to food) perhaps before it was quite ready for it.  For example, there is so much to do and see, but everything shuts so early.  We found the service in general, with only a handful of exceptions, rather brusque and bordering on rude. But more than that, it seems to be a city very much in flux as the many building projects and developments hinted at- roads, offices, flats and bridges, growth spurts everywhere like teens in the summer holidays.  I’d love to go back in a few years and see what kind of a city it becomes. 

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                                                                                                     Looking across the water towards Noma

The food though, oh the food.  There is no shortage of exceptional places to eat and drink.  And yes, we did manage to get a booking at Noma for lunch as a once-in-a-lifetime, just-married treat.  And yes, it was incredible (with wonderful service, incidentally).  And yes, I took some snaps.  And no, I won’t be blogging about it.  Partly because it has been done, partly because I covered it at the time on Instagram, but also because no photos or description I could provide would do it justice.  It was entirely out of this world, mind-boggling and unlike anything else I’ve eaten and experienced.

Other foodie highlights include Granola on the lovely Værnedamsvej in Frederiksberg.  Nestled between little design shops, florists and bars, Granola seemed the perfect place to watch Cophenhagen style hunters go oby over, well, granola.  They also do fluffy pancakes, traditional hearty porridge (served with cranberries, cinnamon and butter) and eggs any way you’d like.

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                                                                                                                               Værnedamsvej florist

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                                                                                                              Cophenhagen courtyard

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                                                                                                                              Café Laundromat

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                                                                                                              BioMio in the old Bosch warehouse in Kødbyen

We were entirely spoilt for choice for where to go out on Copenhagen’s light summer evenings.  The one thing I would say is that it is a shame everywhere closes so early, particularly when the days are so long.  The streets were absolutely deserted by 11pm and forget about getting any food whatsoever post about 9pm, which didn’t suit our lazy honeymoon mindset at all.  We were caught out quite a few times, settling into a funky bar, ordering drinks and before we knew it (but just as our appetites started to wake up), they had stopped doing food.  Get with it Copenhagen!

Some fave areas included Nørrebro, where we found the Laundromat Café on Elmegade (yes, an actual laundromat as well as a café and bar, although no machines whirling when we were there).  The meatpacking district of Kødbyen (literally ‘Meat village’) would definitely be top of my list were I to return to Copenhagen anytime soon- most of the old slaughterhouses have been turned into restaurants, bars, cafés, delis and art galleries and the whole area makes for a lively place to spend an evening, wandering between place to place.  Some of the area’s original history still endures, turn a corner and you may well come face to face with a butcher’s shop window. 

Other highlights include Dyrehaven bar for its selection of beer and nibbles and the wonderful Torvehallerne market which overflowed with pristine fruit and veg, incredible fish and seafood and the most beautiful, almost architectural open sandwiches (which inspired my recipe, see below).  The cafés there will also do you a damn fine breakfast.   

I should probably but in a disclaimer at this point to note that you shouldn’t just go to Denmark or Copenhagen for the food.  It is a gorgeous city to walk or cycle around and of course you can’t move for design- the Designmuseum and Statens Museum for Kunst as well as the quieter Danish Architecture Centre.  But you can also see plenty of contemporary design for free at Hay House, George Jensen, Illums Bolighus and the Royal Copenhagen Flagship store to name but a few.  Not to mention a few recognisable landmarks that are worth seeing in person- we were delighted to be staying to close to the actual Borgen

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                                                                   The imposing entrance to Fiskebaren in the old ‘beef and pork hall’ in Kødbyen

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                                                                                               One of the remaining butchers in Kødbyen

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                                                                                                  Inside Dyrehaven bar on Sdr. Boulevard

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                                              Oils and other potions in Torvehallerne

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                                                                                                           Fruit and veg at Torvehallerne

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                                                                                     Fish and seafood at Torvehallerne- just look at those eels!

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                                                                                                                A selection of open sarnies at Torvehallerne

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                                                                                 Breakfast in Torvehallerne

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                                                                                                                                   Post breakfast

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                                                               Some ubiquitous Scandi design

One of the inescapable staples of Danish food culture is the dark, treacle-y seed filled roggebrød.  Dense rye bread, filled with hearty goodness and available at practically every meal time.

For me, this was what I was most keen to perfect from our trip so that I could enjoy it back at home in London.  I thought it was important to develop a simpler recipe that didn’t use traditional sourdough, as it would be easier to throw to together, although, I accept, finding rye seeds and flakes isn’t exactly something that you can do at your local Tesco Metro- I would go online for this and stock up.  I promise it’s worth it.  I’ve used treacle too, for depth of flavour.  The photographs are, once again, by the fantastic Faith Mason

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 Danish Rye Bread

Makes 1 loaf

You will need:

120g rye flakes
50g rye seeds/grain
80g sunflower seeds
20g linseeds
12g sea salt
30g fresh yeast
50g treacle
250g rye flour, plus a little extra
100g strong bread flour

Method:

1.  The night before you wish to make the loaf, soak the rye flakes, grain and all of the seeds in 200ml of water and leave overnight.

2.  The next day, mix the treacle and 100ml water (at blood temperature) together in a small bowl.  Crumble in the yeast and stir to combine.  Place the flours in a large bowl along with 12g of salt.  Add the yeasty mixture along with the seeds and grains.  Mix until you have a very sticky dough.  Turn this out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.  It will be a very tricky dough to work with- sticky and dense, but that’s to be expected.  Hang in there.

3.  Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave  in a warmish place (an airing cupboard is perfect) for at least one hour, until the dough has visibly risen.  Tip out of the bowl and knead briefly, only for a few seconds, before shaping.  I baked my loaf in a lightly greased 900g/2lb loaf tin.  Leave, covered in a clean tea towel, for a further 45 minutes, until the dough has risen to fill out the tin.

4.  Preheat the oven to 230 C.  Sprinkle the bread with a little extra rye flour then place the tin in the middle of the oven.  Immediately turn the heat down to 180C.  You can also put a baking tray with hot water in the bottom of the oven, to create steam.  Bake for 40 minutes, until the loaf is dark and sounds hollow when tapped on its base.  Turn out of its tin and leave to cool completely before slicing. 

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It’s been a long time… and Bornholm

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It has been an absolute age since my post, practically a lifetime in blogging terms.  The reasons for this are simple and hopefully understandable: firstly, I got hitched!  Secondly, I’ve been embarking on a freelance career foodstyling and writing so between that and planning a wedding, something had to fall by the wayside and that, unfortunately, was this blog. 

However, I am back now and very much raring to go.  The blog has had a makeover which is now almost complete- just a few niggly behind the scenes bits to sort out and a long backlog of posts featuring wintery fare to warm your cockles. 

I couldn’t get stuck back in without sharing some photos and recipes from our ‘scandimoon.’  We spent the week after the wedding in Denmark- a few days relaxing on the island of Bornholm before heading to bustling Copenhagen.  Bornholm was the real surprise- perhaps a slightly unusual choice (I’m fairly sure we were the only honeymooners on the island), but absolutely worth the trek.  The island is in fact closer to Sweden than it is to Denmark (as I’m fond of pointing out), about an hour and a half by ferry from Ystad in Skåne. 

There’s plenty to see and do on the island and although we had hired a car, the most popular way to get around is definitely on two wheels.  Bikes are easy and cheap to hire and mean that you can whizz along the coast with ease- darting between pretty seaside villages, forests, cliff tops and beaches.  And what beaches- white sand, clear blue sea and a not-too-shabby 24 degrees in the water!  We were there in August and had many of the beaches to our selves, including the one at the bottom of the road from our little cabin/cottage (or ‘cabbage’ as we found ourselves calling it).

Bornholm is well known for its incredible produce.  It almost feels like the island could be self-sufficient, with its agricultural riches and hard working locals, who all seemed invariably passionate about their goods.  We came home with pasta made from durum wheat grown on the island, buttery, golden rapeseed oil, a basket of garlic and several bottles of the local brew.  We passed on the local wine, however.  Though perhaps that was a mistake as a certain famous Copenhagen restaurant proved to us later in the week with its offering of Danish vino (more on that in the next post). 

Every road was lined with little stalls filled with bags of produce, when we were there these overflowed with several varieties of spuds, with a little honesty box for your contributions.  Each little coastal town or village had something foodie to offer- flødeboller from chocolate shops and smoked fish from the smoke houses in Snogebraek, fish restaurants in Nexø, beer from the brewery in Svaneke and the Gårdbutik och Polsemageri in Hallegård.   This deli and sausage specialist was a bit tricky to find, but well worth getting lost down narrow country lanes for.  The unassuming farm also has garden with chairs and tables set up under fig trees and rosehip bushes where they serve a few open sarnies and nibbles.  However, the highlight is definitely their tapas board, laden with home-made charcuterie, pickles, veg, cheese and even soup. 

Bornholm was basically one giant food coma as it was (the cycling helped), but we still couldn’t miss out on dinner at Kadeau.  Inventive, local and yes, foraged, this is the place to experice New Nordic Cuisine on Bornholm.  We had the set menu bursting with freshly caught seafood, herbs, fruit and veg picked from their own garden.  The food was excellent, but it really had to be to compete with the ridiculous view.

Below are some snaps of the best of Bornholm- a round up of Copenhagen and a little recipe will follow shortly.

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                                                                                The back of Kadeau’s menu- a map of Bornholm with all their suppliers

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                                                                                    Garlic and cold pressed organic rapeseed oil from the island

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                                                                                                  Smokehouse chimneys in Songebaek

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                                          Raising the Danish flag in Snogebaek

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                    Sol over Gudhjem, a local speciality meaning ‘Sun over Gudhjem’- rye bread, smoked herring, chives, radish and a raw egg yolk.

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                                                                                        A flødeboller from Bech chocolate shop in Snogebaek

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                                                                                                    Bech Chocolate shop in Snogebaek

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                                                                                          Spuds for sale by the side of the road

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                                                   Denmark- where they take ice cream seriously.

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                                                                                                                The brewery in Svaneke

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                                                                                                 Lots of local veg to go on the BBQ

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                                                                                            The Bornholm way to get around- even on the beach!

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                                                                                                             Breakfast on the beach

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                                                                                           Rain splashed figs almost ripe for the picking

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                                                                  Taking shelter from a rare rain shower under a tree at Hallegård Gårdbutik

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                                                                                                                         Hallegård tapas

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                                                          Open sarnie with the most fantastic vanilla poached cherry tomato and cloud berries

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                                                                                      Just a few of the sausages for sale at the Gårdbutik

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                                                                                                               The beach below Kadeau

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                                                                                    Squash, fresh cheese, oysters, parsley, horseradish

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                                                       The best restaurant view in Scandinavia?

Easter Lamb

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I spent Easter in north Devon with my soon-to-be in laws, walking along beaches, exploring smugglers’ villages, cooking and chilling out.  The weather held for two out of three days, which is more than you can expect from an English bank holiday, so no complaints there.  I always find that Easter is a wonderful time for gathering together and breaking bread, without the stresses of decorating, present buying and the dreaded turkey cooking that comes with Christmas.  This is a much more relaxed affair, free from quite so many expectations.   There’s really only one thing I insist on at Easter: roast lamb, at its best right now.
 
This year, I studded mine with garlic and slow cooked it for 5 hours on a bed of spuds and onion.  However, if you are feeling more adventurous, you could try this almond milk braised recipe.  Cooking with almond milk is something I’ve been wanting to try for ages and I was not disappointed.  It adds a richness that works particularly well with the fennel and beans here, and makes for a really succulent, tender lamb.  You could also veer towards north African with the flavours, adding chilli, coriander and cumin before roasting then scattering with pomegranate seeds.  I think that would work particularly well, but felt that something a bit more classic would be more appropriate for Easter.
 
The photographs in this post are, yet again, taken by Faith Mason during an Easter-themed testing session.  I particularly love the black and white photo of duck eggs, with their pearlescent shells.  The blue eggs are in fact not painted (although that would be pretty fitting for Easter), but come from Cotswold Old Legbar hens and naturally have a slightly turquoise hue.  You can find them from Clarence Court, along with many other exciting egg varieties.  
 
 
 
 
 
        
 

Almond milk Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Cannellini Beans, Fennel and Baby Carrots

You will need:
1/2 shoulder of lamb, approx 1kg/2 lb 3 oz
3 fat garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2 green chillis, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley stalks
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly bashed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
300ml/10 fl oz almond milk (unsweetened)
1 tin cannellini beans, drained
baby carrots, to serve
flaked almonds and chopped parsley leaves, to serve

 

 

Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4.  Using a small knife, make little incisions all over the meat and insert the slivers of garlic.  Mix together the parsley stalks, cumin seeds, lemon juice and zest, smoked paprika, olive oil and 1 tsp of salt (preferably sea salt) in a small bowl to form a thick paste.  Rub this all over the lamb.

2. Place the onion and fennel in a roasting tray, season and pour over the almond milk.  Sit the lamb snugly in the tray.  Cover with tin foil and roast for 1 hour, basting a few times, then remove from the oven and tip in the beans.  Continue to roast for a further 30 minutes, uncovered, until tender.  Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes then scatter with chopped parsley and flaked almonds.  Serve with steamed baby carrots, still slightly crunch and, if you like, some of the beans, fennel and milk whizzed into a thick sauce. 

Healthy Hot Cross Buns

Alright, so the title of this post is a little misleading.  I’m not entirely sure it would be possible to make healthy hot cross buns, as there is no way of getting around it- they are a treat.  But you can make them a bit healthIER.  I’ve tried to lighten them up a little with the addition of spelt flour, oats, agave and grated apple for sweetness and oil instead of butter for richness.  There’s still plenty of spice there and if you pop them in the toaster, you’ve got a perfect Easter breakfast.  This was originally a recipe I created for Women’s Health Magazine.  You can see it and other healthy treats here.  Make a large batch then freeze the rest for later.

Lighter Hot Cross Buns
Makes 16 buns

You will need:

500ml skimmed milk or dairy-free alternative
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
4 cloves
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 2 oranges
300g spelt flour
300g strong white bread flour, plus about 100g extra for kneading and the crosses
1 tsp salt
100g oats
1 x 7g sachet fast action yeast
50ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp agave nectar
1 large egg, beaten
1 apple, coarsely grated
2 tsp cinnamon
60g currants
2 tbsp apricot or fig jam, ideally a no added sugar brand

Method:

1. Bring the milk to boil with the cardamom pods, cloves, lemon zest and zest of 1 orange. Set to one side and allow to cool to blood temperature.  Meanwhile, sift the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl. Tip in the oats, yeast, oil, agave and beaten egg. Once the milk has cooled, remove the cloves and cardamom and pour into the bowl.  

2. Mix together until the ingredients are well incorporated. Then tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface and knead for a good 10 minutes, either by hand or using the dough attachment of a table top mixer. It will seem like a very wet dough, but keep working it, slapping it onto the work surface to develop the gluten. It will eventually come together to form a sticky, but elastic dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove in warmish place for about 1 hour, until risen.

3.     Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and flatten slightly. Mix together the apple, cinnamon, currants and remaining orange zest and sprinkle over the dough. Knead briefly to distribute all the ingredients. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces and roll into smooth balls. Arrange the buns on 2 lightly oiled baking sheets in rows of 4, about 1 cm apart. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for a further hour.

4. Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200/gas mark 7. In a small bowl mix together 30g of flour with 2 ½- 3 tbsp water, adding the water gradually until you have a thick paste. Scrape into a small sandwich bag. Once the buns have risen and puffed up, cut off the tip of one corner of the sandwich bag and use to pipe crosses over the buns. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, swapping shelves halfway through. Meanwhile, heat the jam with 2 tbsp of water in a small pan until the jam has melted and is syrupy. Sieve into a small bowl and use to brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and allow to cool before tucking in.