Recipes: Scrumptious Easter bakes

By Angela Day Time of article published Mar 26, 2012

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CHOCOLATE HOT CROSS BUNS

Makes 16-18

4 x 250ml flour

125ml castor sugar

10ml salt

10g sachet of instant yeast

60ml cocoa powder

15ml ground cinnamon

80g butter, melted

250-300ml buttermilk, warmed

1 egg

180ml chocolate chips

beaten egg for glazing

CROSSES

125ml flour

15ml oil

warm water to mix

GLAZE

50ml water

30ml sugar

a pinch of cinnamon

Put the flour, castor sugar, salt, yeast, cocoa powder and cinnamon into a mixing bowl.

Combine butter, buttermilk and egg and add to the dry ingredients to form a dough that is soft but not sticky. Knead well until smooth and elastic.

Put the dough into an oiled plastic bag and leave to rise until doubled in size. Remove the dough from the bag and gently knead in the chocolate chips.

Divide the dough into 16-18 portions and roll each portion into a ball.

Pack the balls into a greased oven roasting pan, cover and leave to rise for another 20 minutes. Brush the buns with beaten egg.

Pipe on the crosses and bake at 180°C for 20-30 minutes until cooked and golden. Remove from the oven and brush with the glaze.

CROSSES: Combine flour, oil and enough warm water to make a stiff paste. Put the mixture into a disposable icing bag, cut off the point and pipe the mixture on to the buns.

GLAZE: Combine the ingredients together in a small saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes until sticky.

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SIMNEL ROLL WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE AND CRANBERRIES

Serves 8-10

500ml flour

30ml castor sugar

15ml baking powder

100g butter

1 egg

125ml buttermilk

45ml apricot jam

ALMOND PASTE

375ml ground almonds

375ml sifted icing sugar

1-2 egg whites, lightly beaten

3ml almond extract

100g white chocolate, chopped

180ml dried cranberries

egg for glazing

GLACÉ ICING

125ml sifted icing sugar

water to mix

Sift the flour, castor sugar and baking powder into a bowl.

Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the egg and buttermilk and add to the dry ingredients to form a stiff dough. Knead gently until smooth.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a rectangle. Brush with apricot jam.

Cover with the sheet of almond paste (method follows).

Scatter over the chocolate and cranberries. Roll up lengthwise like a Swiss roll. Place it on a greased baking tray. Use sharp scissors to cut snips in the top of the dough. Brush with egg glaze and bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool slightly before drizzling with glacé icing.

ALMOND PASTE: Combine the ground almonds and icing sugar. Add enough egg white to form a stiff paste. Knead in the almond extract. Roll out thinly on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar to slightly smaller than the dough rectangle.

GLACÉ ICING: Add enough water to the icing sugar to make a stiff icing. Drizzle it over the log.

* It is not advisable to use ready-bought marzipan for this recipe as it does not bake well.

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EASTER BISCUITS

Makes 12-14

160g butter, softened

125ml castor sugar

grated rind of 1 lemon

2 egg yolks

500ml flour

5ml mixed spice

50g currants

glacé icing for decoration

Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the lemon rind and mix. Beat in the egg yolks.

Sift the flour and spice and add to the creamed mixture with the currants. Mix to form a dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out with a cutter of your choice. Place on a greased baking tray and bake at 160°C for 15-20 minutes until pale golden brown.

Remove and cool. Decorate with glacé icing if desired.

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LEMON AND ALMOND EASTER CAKE

CAKE

125g butter

250ml castor sugar

3 eggs

5ml vanilla extract

500ml flour

10ml baking powder

160-180ml milk

250ml lemon curd

60ml apricot jam

ALMOND PASTE

750ml ground almonds

750ml sifted icing sugar

2-3 egg whites, lightly beaten

3ml almond extract

ICING:

125ml water

125ml sugar

500g fondant paste

easter eggs for decoration

CAKE: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Sift the flour and baking powder and add it alternately to the creamed mixture with enough milk to make a dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture equally among three 20cm cake pans that have been lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove and cool.

Trim the layers so that they fit snugly on top of each other. Sandwich the three layers together with lemon curd. Spread the top and sides of the cake with apricot jam and cover with a layer of almond paste. Trim the edges and rub the surface until smooth.

Set the cake on a wire rack over a tray to catch any dripping icing. Pour over the fondant icing and allow it to set. Decorate with Easter eggs and a ribbon.

ALMOND PASTE: Combine the almonds and icing sugar and mix well. Add enough egg white to form a stiff paste. Add almond extract and mix well.

On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the almond paste large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake.

Carefully roll the almond paste up on to a rolling pin and then unroll it over the cake which has been brushed with apricot jam.

ICING: Combine the water and sugar and heat in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

Place the fondant icing in a bowl and put it over a pot of simmering water. Leave until the icing has become completely liquid.

Remove from the heat and add enough of the sugar syrup to make the icing runny.

Pour this over the almond paste, spreading it quickly with a palate knife. It sets very fast so work quickly. Neaten the edge of the cake, put it on to a serving plate and decorate with Easter eggs and a ribbon.

* Fondant icing can be bought at cake icing supply shops.

* Instead of making the almond paste, you can use ready made marzipan icing bought in tubs from the supermarket.

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PORTUGUESE EASTER BREAD

Makes 1 large loaf

5 x 250ml flour

5ml salt

grated rind of one lemon

2 x 10g sachets of instant yeast

250ml castor sugar

2 eggs, beaten

60g butter, softened

250ml warm water

6 hard-boiled coloured eggs*

beaten egg for glazing

Combine the flour, salt, castor sugar, lemon rind and yeast in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre.

Beat eggs and sugar together and add to the flour. Add the butter and enough warm water to mix to a dough that is soft but not sticky. Knead well until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in an oiled plastic bag and leave to rise until doubled in size. When the dough has risen, remove it from the bag and knead gently. Remove about 125ml of the dough and set it aside. Roll or press the remaining dough into a large circle about 30cm in diameter. Place on a greased baking tray, cover and allow to rise for about 40 minutes.

Press the coloured eggs into the dough around the edge and one in the middle. Divide the reserved dough into 12 portions and roll each into a thin rope. Use the ropes to form a cross over each egg.

Brush loaf with beaten egg and bake at 200°C for 40-50 minutes until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cover with a piece of foil if it starts to get too dark during the baking time. Remove and cool before serving.

* Colour eggs by boiling them in water with brown onion skins (traditional), or by dipping hard-boiled eggs into water to which food colouring and vinegar has been added.

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