If you have time on your hands for some Easter baking, here are some suggestions. Easter has become synonymous with chocolate eggs but there’s so much more to Easter Baking. Simnel Cake and Hot Cross buns are classics and absolutely delicious if you make them yourself. I have been making Simnel Cake for 20 odd years now, it’s a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan baked in the middle and then iced with marzipan and the 12 marzipan balls to represent the apostles. 11 if you don’t include Judas , which I always do . Both of which require a bit of time and effort but if you are after something quicker Belgian chocolate brownies are quick and easy and always a crowd pleaser and rocky road a great recipe for children.
Easter Simnel Cake
6 oz butter (soft )
6 oz soft dark brown sugar
4 medium eggs
8oz plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
8 oz sultanas
8 oz currants
2 oz glace cherries, washed, dried and roughly chopped
2 oz candied peel, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
3 tablespoons full fat milk
9 oz ground almonds
9 oz icing sugar
2 egg yolks + 1 yolk to glaze
approximately 1 tablespoon Brandy or Whiskey
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly or apricot jam
Preheat oven to 150C
One 8” deep cake tin, double lined with greaseproof paper
To make the marzipan, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the ground almonds, mix together and make a well in the centre.
Beat the yolks with the Brandy and a squeeze of lemon juice, add this to the almond mixture and mix together with a spoon and then use your hand to bring the mixture together.
Add more lemon juice if needed. Knead lightly and cover with cling film.
Meanwhile cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
In a small bowl beat the eggs together and then add slowly to the mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
If the mixture looks like it is going to curdle you can add a spoonful of flour.
When all of the egg has been added , sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in using a metal spoon.
Then add the dried fruits, orange and lemon zest and mixed spice and fold in lightly.
If the mixture seems very heavy you can add some / all of the milk to lighten it.
Spoon half of the mixture into the tin and then using one third of the marzipan roll out a circle of marzipan to fit and place on top of the cake mix.
Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top.
Allow to cool and then roll out half of the remaining marzipan in a circle to fit the top.
Brush the surface of the cake with a little warm apricot jam and place the marzipan on top, trim the edges if need be.
Brush with a little beaten egg yolk and place under a hot grill until just beginning to turn golden.
You must watch it at this point as it will burn very quickly.
Roll the remaining marzipan into 12 little balls ( to represent the apostles ) and stick on top using a little of the jam.
Brush the tops with a little of the egg wash and place under the grill again until coloured a little.Add a little circle of foil in the middle to prevent the marzipan burning.
Easter Rocky Road
160g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 ½ tablespoons golden syrup
80g mini marshmallows
100g rich tea biscuits
Mini Chocolate Eggs (a handful)
makes 12 large or 24 small
8” x 5” disposable foil container or small baking tray buttered and lined
In a heavy based saucepan melt together the chocolate, butter and golden syrup over a gentle heat and stir well.
Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin into rough pieces.
Add this to the chocolate mixture and stir well together. Let it cool a little.
Add the marshmallows and stir in. Roughly chop about half of the mini eggs and add to the mix.
Pour into the foil container or baking tin and press evenly into the tin. Scatter the remaining chocolate eggs on top.
Chill in the fridge until set.
Then remove from the tin and cut into squares.
Belgian Chocolate Brownies
190g dark chocolate
120g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Swiss roll tin 9” x 13” lined with baking paper and greased with butter
Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C Fan
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Break the eggs into a large bowl, add the sugar and a pinch of salt.
Whisk to combine.
Add the melted chocolate to the eggs and whisk again to combine, sift in the flour and whisk until thoroughly combined ( with no streaks of flour ).
Pour into a greased and lined tin.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cooked but still a little sqiudgy in the middle.
Mark out the squares and leave to cool for 10 minutes or so but cut into squares while still warm.
Then leave to cool before taking out of the tin.
These will keep well for up to a week.