Soft & Fluffy Hot Cross Buns {a traditional good friday recipe}

Hot Cross Buns, Easter Recipe

James knows I would totally live in a house made out of hot cross buns if I could. I wish people would just give me hot cross buns instead of chocolate eggs for Easter. I mean, who doesn’t love indulging in a gloriously soft, sticky, spice-laden sweet bread studded with juicy raisins and sultanas? I do occasionally enjoy the chocolate chip version of this Good Friday treat, but the traditional spiced version is also fantastic. Continue reading “Soft & Fluffy Hot Cross Buns {a traditional good friday recipe}”

Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Spring Onion Soft Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Spring Onion Soft Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Life was a little knotty and convoluted at one stage in my life just a handful of years ago. Before I met James, a little ways before even that, I was a very different person. Drinking was a very common pastime, smoking made for a wanton distraction, and the so-called friends I hung out with weren’t always the most decent nor trustworthy of people. At one stage, my grades started to fall sharply at university and I was very much living ‘in the moment’ more than ‘living for the future’. Continue reading “Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt”

Melonpan メロンパン (Soft Milk Buns with Cookie Dough Crust)


Despite being familiar with melonpan for quite some time, I’d never actually had the opportunity to try one until our trip to Japan last year. During an excursion around bustling Tokyo, we chanced upon a little café located along a quiet alley in Asakusa. As soon as we laid eyes on their cookie dough encrusted buns on display out the front, we stopped and bought one. Since then, I’ve always wanted to make my own.

Yeast and Flour Equipment Instant Yeast

In a recent post about red bean buns, I quite ardently mentioned that I’ve been craving bread. Preferably soft, sweet Japanese bread. To continue with this theme, I attempted (finally!) to make some melonpan. Like anpan, melonpan is another popular type of sweet bun from Japan, made by covering a soft bread dough in a thin layer of sugar-sprinkled cookie dough. Despite its name, the buns are not traditionally melon flavoured (though it is becoming popular for people to add melon flavouring, among others). The sweet cookie-covered bun actually gets its name from its cross-hatched appearance, which supposedly resembles the rind of a rock melon/cantaloupe.

Kneading Bread Dough After Dough Has Risen Dividing Dough

Melonpan is similar to Hong Kong bo luo bao (pineapple bun) and Korean soboro ppang (streusel bread) in appearance, but is typically not so heavy, with a lighter crust and less buttery bread. This doesn’t make the Japanese variant any less tasty though!

Unbaked Melonpan Unbaked Melonpan Melonpan in the Oven Oven Temperature

Melonpan is not overly complicated to make, though there is a fair bit of waiting involved. But it is definitely worth it. Plus, there is something truly magical about lightly carving diamonds into the soft, pre-baked cookie shell and making them glitter with sugar crystals. Best eaten fresh out of the oven, when the sugar cookie crust is still crunchy and the bun is soft and fluffy!

Baked Melonpan Baked Melonpan Melonpan Crumb Shot

Melonpan メロンパン (Japanese Melon Bread)
soft milk buns topped with a crisp cookie dough crust | yield: 6 small buns

Cookie Dough Layer (Pâte Sablée):

3/4 cup cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons egg, beaten

Milk Bread Dough:

1 1/2 cups bread flour (high protein flour)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons full cream milk, warm
4 tablespoons water, warm
1 tablespoon egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter, softened

for the shell:
previously prepared cookie dough (from above recipe)
some large-grain sugar, for dipping
Unbaked Melonpan


The full recipe has been moved to our new website, Milk & Dust.

Check out the recipe here: Homemade Melonpan メロンパン: Perfect soft milk buns with cookie dough crust

Anpan あんパン (Japanese Sweet Red Bean Buns)

Red Bean Buns

I’ve been craving bread. Sweet and impeccably soft Japanese bread in particular. Not quite sure what started this recent desire for pillowy soft buns, but with a severe lack of Japanese bakeries on the Gold Coast, I’ve been forced to get into the kitchen and bake whenever the craving strikes. I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

Anko, Red Bean Paste Dough Dough

Anpan are essentially delicious Japanese bread rolls filled with sweet, moist, melt-in-your-mouth anko (red bean paste), and honestly, they taste much better when baked at home. Nothing beats warm, fluffy, fresh-out-of-the-oven anpan! That satisfaction when you bite into one and find that gooey, sticky, sweet red bean centre… so indescribably good.

Anko, Red Bean Paste Filling the Buns Filled Buns

If you’ve never had anko before, it’s a rather dense paste made by boiling and mashing earthy red beans (also known as azuki beans). Sugar is than added to sweeten the paste. It is a very popular ingredient featured widely in Asian desserts. For this anpan, I used the chunky version of the paste (tsubuan). If you prefer a smoother paste, look for koshian. Both of these can be easily made at home or found in certain Asian supermarkets.

Red Bean Buns Red Bean Buns Red Bean Buns

Just look at how cute the little anpan are, especially with those itty bitty sesame seeds sitting pretty on top! I’ve found that these buns make a great breakfast, accompanied by nice hot coffee or smooth hōjicha to cut through the sweetness of the anko.

Red Bean Buns Red Bean Buns

Anpan あんパン (Japanese Sweet Red Bean Buns)
soft bread buns filled with sweet red bean paste | yield: 8 small buns


1 1/2 cups bread flour (high protein flour)
3 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon milk powder
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons egg, beaten
100ml water, warm
2 tablespoons butter, softened

for the filling & topping:
350g anko (red bean paste/azuki bean paste)
Egg mixed with a bit of water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling


The full recipe has been moved to our new website, Milk & Dust.

Check out the recipe here:

Red Bean Buns

Banana, Orange & Walnut Bread

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

Everybody loves a warm slice of banana bread, especially if it’s bursting with fruity flavour and charmingly dotted with a decent smatter of crunchy walnuts. While I believe such an item makes essential dessert fare at any respectable café, nothing quite beats a rustic, homemade little loaf of the stuff. Sweet, nutty and just a little bit zesty from the orange, this fragrant quickbread is soft, springy, moist and quite easy to make.

Golden Walnuts Cake Batter Cake Batter

Simple, mindful touches like the quick dash of orange zest and the banana slices left on top to caramelise sets this delightful creation apart from its mass-produced cousins sitting in pretty rows encased in walls of glass at popular cafés and bakeries. The extra effort is quite worth the final product, and you’ll be happy to know that your favourite cup of coffee goes very well with it too.

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

We currently have an abundance of fresh oranges at home, courtesy of family friends who own an orange orchard up in the hinterland. Apart from this lovely loaf, we’ve also made some orange chocolate brownies just to use up some of the citrusy fruit. Recipe to come soon!

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

Banana, Orange & Walnut Bread


2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup milk

to decorate:
1 banana, cut lengthwise


  1. Line a regular loaf tin with baking paper and preheat oven to 165°C.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Continue to mix while gradually adding the beaten eggs to the butter mixture.
  5. Add the mashed banana, walnuts and orange zest, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Alternating between the milk and the flour, gently fold each ingredient into the butter mixture in 3 or 4 increments until just combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and arrange the banana slices on top.
  8. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and let stand in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

Pillowy Cinnamon Sugar Banana Bread Donuts

I sat down to write this a couple of days ago, but out of the blue, I came down with a cold and could not concentrate. Apart from all the sneezing and sniffling, staring at the computer screen would make my eyes tear up and I’d have to blink and look away every few seconds. So I stopped to wait until I got better. The cold cleared up almost overnight and I’m glad I’m not sick anymore because this wouldn’t be a good time to be out of action. I’m supposed to be busy preparing for my trip to Singapore next week and there’s still much to be done before then.

Anyway, a few days ago, while baking and shooting for Jillian’s Christmas blog event (more on this when my recipe gets featured), one of the resident kookaburras came by and landed near the window for a bit of a stare down. It wasn’t afraid of me even when I went outside with my camera and approached it slowly. Actually, I was more afraid of it. I knew it was protecting a nest around the other side of the house, so I didn’t want to get it angry. I took a few quick pictures and left it alone.

Moving along. I’m sure we’re all here for these gorgeous, tasty little treats, aren’t we? Mmm, the warm, comforting scent of freshly baked banana bread paired with a snowfall dusting of cinnamon sugar. Here is one of my baked donut recipes that incorporates such elements and yields little rings of sweet, pillowy soft goodies. They are everything a perfect donut should be.

I would say that this is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve baked in awhile. The sensation of biting into that lovely, aromatic, ultra moist interior and experiencing the flavourful burst of banana and sugared spice play on your tongue. Absolute heaven.

These guys are fairly sweet and delicious on their own without the cinnamon sugar coating, so you could probably omit it if you wanted a slightly healthier alternative. But if you have an unapologetic sweet tooth, you could try smothering these donuts in a thick chocolate glaze and maybe include a light dusting of rainbow sprinkles over the top!

Pillowy Cinnamon Sugar Banana Bread Donuts


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cinnamon sugar coating:
50g butter, melted
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 175°C and lightly grease a regular 6-hole donut pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and egg until well combined and glossy.
  4. While continuing to mix, slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mixture.
  5. Stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla. Mix well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and slowly mix until no flour streaks remain.
  7. Carefully spoon the batter into each donut indention until almost full.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops feel quite firm.
  9. Remove pan from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before gently removing each donut with a fork and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  11. Very lightly brush each donut with the melted butter and coat them in the cinnamon sugar, shaking off any excess.

Cinnamon Banana Bread

Sometimes, you just feel like making a quick loaf of bread. Something with complex flavours, yet require the simplest of ingredients. This beautiful butterless, gluten free loaf of cinnamon banana bread tastes delightfully creamy and cinnamony. In fact, when I first took a bite out of a fresh, warm slice, it reminded me very much of French toast. Perfect. It’s amazing what experimenting in the kitchen will result in.


3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup roasted soybean flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, whisked
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons applesauce


  1. Preheat oven to 175°C and line a standard loaf tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, soybean flour, baking soda and salt together. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut oil, eggs, bananas, applesauce and cinnamon until well blended.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture in 3 or 4 increments, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  5. Carefully pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes.
  6. When cooked, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before removing loaf from tin to cool completely.

There you have it. Beautiful cinnamon banana bread, fresh out of the oven. Hiding under that lovely dark crust is a fluffy, golden interior. So scrumptious! Enjoy plain or with some maple syrup drizzled over the top!