Eggstra special bakes for Easter
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis puts a twist on some classic recipes. Images: Sarah Lucy Brown
If ever there was a time to be kitsch in the kitchen, it’s Easter.
Bring out the painted eggs, colourings, glitter and mounds of chocolate to create striking and colourful centrepieces that will make everyone smile.
Sticky ginger beer and lemon hot cross buns
(makes 8) A touch of heat, zip of tart lemon, and chewy nuggets of crystallised stem ginger make these a real treat. I’ve squeezed a little bit of lemon-scented marzipan inside them too. They freeze well before and after baking and are best eaten on the day of making.
100ml milk, 1tsp dried yeast, 2tbsps caster sugar, 225g strong white bread flour, 1tsp ground ginger, 1 large egg, beaten, 45g soft butter, 70g currants, 2 pieces crystallised stem ginger finely chopped, zest of 2 lemons, 50g marzipan. For the glaze: 300ml ginger beer, 2tbsp syrup from stem ginger jar. For the crosses: 150g white flour, water to mix
- 1 6 great woodland walks in the Peak District
- 2 9 of Yorkshire’s best bakeries
- 3 5 million pound properties for sale in Derbyshire
- 4 Win a 12 bottle case of mixed wines and champagne from Wharf Side Wines
- 5 Win a short break at Landal Darwin Forest
- 6 Win a diamond ring worth £1,000
- 7 Win a stunning brass table lamp from Opulental
- 8 Win a signed limited edition print by Fiona Odle
- 9 Win a watercolour painting of Gosfield by artist James Merriott
- 10 6 waterfall walks in Derbyshire and the Peak District
Boil the milk then set aside. Once it’s cooled down a little add the sugar and yeast. Stir and leave for 10 minutes. Add the flour, stem and ground ginger, egg, butter and 1 lemon zest. Knead for five minutes in the bowl. It will be sticky but don’t worry it’s meant to be. Cover and leave somewhere warm for 2.5 hours until risen. Knead again and leave for another 30 minutes. Now shape into eight balls. Mix the other lemon zest with the marzipan and split into eight pieces. Push a piece into each ball. Make a deep cross in each bun. Cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Mix the flour for the crosses with enough water to make a thick paste that you can pipe with. Pipe over the crosses. Place the buns in the oven for 20 minutes.
While the buns are baking making the glaze. Boil down the ginger beer and syrup until sticky. It will make about 4tbsp of glaze.
Brush the buns with the glaze and return to the oven for five minutes. Cool slightly then serve.
Simnel-scented cupcakes (makes 12)
These fruity, gently spiced cakes are filled with apricot jam (I used Tiptree brand which is nice and sharp). They are then crowned with a swirl of toasted almond buttercream, which has a praline flavour and is gorgeous used to fill and top all kinds of cakes – from chocolate to lemon.
As a finishing flourish I rolled some fondant icing into egg shapes.
170g unsalted butter, 170g caster sugar, 3 large eggs, 170g self-raising flour, 1tsp baking powder, zest of 1 orange, 1.5tsp mixed spice, 3tbsps raisins soaked in tea for 1 hour, 6tbsps apricot jam. For the buttercream, 70g whole almonds in their skins, 140g unsalted butter, 280g icing sugar, 1tsp almond extract, milk
Roast the whole almonds at 200C for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then blitz in a spice grinder or processor to a powder. Set aside.
Beat the butter for the cakes with the sugar until smooth then add the eggs one by one, beating well. Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixed spice, raisins and zest. Combine well. Place 1tbsp of mix into 12 cupcake cases. Spoon 1/2tsp apricot jam into the centre of each then evenly divide the rest of the cake batter between the cases. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C.
For the buttercream blend the roasted, ground almonds with the icing sugar, almond extract and butter. Add a small dash of milk to help make it creamy. Pipe onto the cakes when they have cooled.
Ombre chocolate cake
This is a cute showstopper. Topped with felt flowers, mini eggs and edible chicks it looks great at the centre of the Easter table. When you cut into it, revealing the five contrasting layers, from vanilla to deepest, darkest chocolate, you’re sure to get plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. If you fancy having a go at making the sweet edible chicks, take a look at the step-by-step guide. I used Wilton layer cake pans to make the cakes (they come in a pack of five) otherwise use five 18cm sandwich tins.
375g unsalted butter, 375g caster sugar, 375g self- raising flour, 1tsp vanilla extract, 6 eggs, cocoa powder. For the caramel filling: 1 tin caramel, large pinch sea salt. For the chocolate ganache icing: 350g dark chocolate, 200ml double cream, 70g unsalted butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease your tins. Beat the butter with the sugar until smooth – use an electric mixer if you have one. Add the eggs one by one and then the flour. Now weigh the mixture and calculate five equal parts. Take out one fifth and add the vanilla extract. Spread into one tin. Add 1.5tbsp cocoa to the rest of the mix. Combine and remove another fifth of the mix. Spread into a tin. Continue in this way so that each batch is darker than the previous one. The final layer should be quite dark. Add a dash of milk to that one to soften it if you like. Bake the cakes for 20 minutes and allow to cool. Once cool trim the tops so they will sit evenly when layered.
Heat the caramel in a saucepan until thickened and add the salt. Arrange the cakes from light to dark and layer with the caramel, spreading the excess around the sides. Allow to set for 1 hour. Melt the ingredients for the ganache together, allow to cool completely then use to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate as you like.
To make a family of three chicks you will need ¼ block each of yellow marzipan and white marzipan, black food colouring gel and orange food colouring gel (I used Sugarcraft’s Liquorice and Egyptian Orange), a little icing sugar mixed with water
Step one: Take a large tablespoon of yellow marzipan and make into a thick oval shape, narrowing at the top (to make a head).
Step two: Flatten a couple of small bits of yellow marzipan and cut out teardrop shapes to make the wings.
Step three: Colour the white marzipan orange. Take a tiny piece and make into a ball then taper out one end with your fingertips to make a beak.
Step four: Make a flat pear shape with some orange marzipan and stick your chick body on top. Cut out ‘feet’ with a sharp knife.
Step five: Stick the wings and beak to the chick with your icing sugar mix.
Step six: Use a cocktail skewer or the tip of a knife or fork to dab black food colouring where the eyes should be.