The coming of Easter means a long Bank Holiday weekend and with it, plenty of time to get your baking skills into full gear. And as Spring is in the air, what better time for your Easter baking to reflect this upturn in the seasons, with vibrant colours and bold flavours to match the Spring shoots and blossoms. Great British Chefs blogger Monica Shaw has assembled a few of her favourite Easter baking ideas below, including a recipe for Hot Cross Buns.
Making Hot Cross Buns - photo by Monica Shaw
Blog post by Monica Shaw
Photo by Ali Elan
The traditional Simnel cake is a sweet fruit cake that’s been eaten since medieval times as a symbolic ritual, typically topped with eleven marzipan balls to signify the eleven apostles of Christ (sans Judas!). Tradition aside, there’s a reason why this cake has stood the test of time: it’s rich, delicious and looks beautiful on the Easter feast table. Try Hobbs House’s Simnel Cake, developed by Fabulous Baker Brother Tom Herbert. Or for something a bit more bite-sized, Dan Lepard’s Simnel Cupcakes are a treat.
Sedgemoor Easter Cakes
More biscuit than cake (but what’s in a name?), these spiced shortbread-style goodies hail from Somerset and were traditionally tied in bundles of three to represent the Holy Trinity. If you’re after a little slice of British heritage this Easter, it doesn’t get better than this. The New York Times shares a recipe for Sedgemoor Easter Cakes adapted from ‘Good Things in England: A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use,’ originally published in 1932.
Chocolate Easter Nests
Photo by Stephanie Kilgast
Three ingredients are all it takes to make these cute little chocolate nests: shredded wheat, milk chocolate and colourful chocolate mini eggs. They’re lots of fun and the perfect thing to make with the kids. Try the recipe on Gin and Crumpets.
Photo by Jim Crocker
Another kid-friendly baking idea: buttery biscuits cut into happy Easter shapes like rabbits, eggs and chicks. All you need is a basic biscuit base, some frosting and some cookie cutters. Fiona Cairn shares her basic recipe for Easter Biscuits in the Telegraph, or for something a little more grownup, try these orange-infused Easter Biscuits on AllRecipes.
Hot Cross Buns
Photo by Monica Shaw
What’s an Easter bake without hot cross buns? These sweet, spiced yeast buns take some time to make, but the method is straightforward and it’s time well spent. Once you bake your own, you will never buy store bought hot cross buns again. Chef Rachel Demuth of Demuths Restaurant kindly shared with us her recipe for Hot Cross Buns below.
Recipe: Hot Cross Buns
· 1 tbsp dried active yeast
· 1 tsp sugar
· 125ml warm water
· 350g strong white flour
· 100g strong wholemeal flour
· 1/2 tsp salt
· 2 tsps mixed spice
· 50g caster sugar
· 75g sultanas
· 75g dried apricots, chopped
· 75g mixed peel
· 125ml warm milk
· 50g butter, melted
· 1 egg, beaten
· 4 tbsps unbleached white flour
· 1 tbsp caster sugar
· 2 tbsps cold water
· 1 egg yolk +1 tablespoon milk
· 2 tbsps sugar + 2 tbsps water
1. In a bowl mix the dried yeast with the sugar and add the warm water, whisk, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place until frothy which takes about 10-15minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sieve the flour and add the salt, mixed spice, caster sugar, sultanas, dried apricots and mixed peel.
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the frothy yeast, warm milk, melted butter and beaten egg. Mix well with your hands into a sticky dough.
4. Lightly flour a work surface, turn the dough out and kneed the dough for 5 minutes until soft and smooth.
5. Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 60 minutes until it has doubled in size.
6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and gently kneed the dough. Roll the dough into a sausage and divide up into 12 equal pieces, using scales to be precise.
7. Roll each piece into a round ball.
8. Line a baking tray or two with baking parchment and arrange the balls in lines, not quite touching. Leave in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.
9. While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 220C and make the piping paste.
10. To make the piping paste, mix the flour sugar and water together into a smooth paste.
11. Put into a piping bag fitted with a small, plain nozzle.
12. Beat the egg yolk and milk together for the egg wash.
13. When the buns have risen, make a indent of a cross on each bun using a blunt knife. Brush with the egg wash and then pipe a cross on each bun.
14. Put the buns in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
15. While the buns are baking, make the sticky glaze. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat.
16. As soon as the buns come out brush them with the glaze. Transfer to a wire rack with out pulling them apart and leave to cool.
17. When cool enough pull apart, slice in half, apply butter and enjoy!
Post for Great British Chefs by Monica Shaw
So what are you baking this Easter? Are you inspired to try making your own Hot Cross Buns? Will you and your family try some more chocolately delights? There's plenty in our Easter Recipe Collection at Great British Chefs. We'd love to hear your plans over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.