Easter baking

Five sweet ideas for Easter baking

by Great British Chefs 30 March 2017

Easter feasting isn't all about the eggs – there are plenty of cakes and other sweet treats perfect for making at home. Get inspired with some of our favourite recipes.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

Whether you’re Christian or not, there’s a good chance you’re going to be celebrating Easter in one way or another. It might not involve the all night masses that take place in some of the more devout countries of the world, but at the very least there will probably be some chocolate consumed on Easter Sunday.

Even if we find ourselves knee-deep in chocolate eggs and surrounded by overexcited children, most of us try baking some sort of cake to eat over the weekend. We’re spoilt for choice in terms of recipes – it seems the abstinence of Lent over the centuries made sweet-toothed cooks particularly creative – but it’s the richly flavoured cakes (particularly chocolate ones) that are always the most popular. If you’re after a little seasonal inspiration, we’ve got five ideas and plenty of recipes to keep you on a sugar high for the whole holiday.

Chocolate couture

Find the gaudy packaging of Easter eggs a bit off-putting? Tired of the same old simple chocolate cakes? Set aside a day to really get to grips with baking and create a masterpiece that’ll blow everything else out of the water. While it might sound a bit unusual, Francesco Mazzei’s Aubergine and chocolate cake has an incredible depth of flavour. The chef works a smoky aubergine purée into his cocoa and chocolate batter, further flavoured with mint leaves and hazelnuts. The cake is fantastic on its own, but to fully push the boat out there are some very cheffy garnishes that make all the difference – including cocoa powder tuiles, chilli jam, a cocoa crumble and beautiful borage flowers. It’s certainly a world apart from your average chocolate cake.

If you want something that looks a little more like a Michelin-starred dessert, then try Russell Brown’s Chocolate genoise with dark chocolate ganache, caramelised pear and cocoa syrup. It includes chocolate presented in three different ways; an airy, light sponge; rich ganache and a smooth, sticky syrup. The pears add just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the bitter, dark chocolate, and you can make extra cocoa syrup for drizzling over other desserts like ice cream or biscuits.

Get the kids involved

Let’s face it – while we’ll all happily whip up some sweet treats over the Easter weekend and devour them ourselves, it’s hard to recapture that childhood excitement of opening an egg and gorging on its contents. But instead of just stocking up on sweets from the supermarket, get the kids involved in the kitchen – they might learn a thing or two and it’s a great activity for the whole family.

Anne Faber’s Red velvet Easter cupcakes are a perfect first project for any would-be bakers, using a little bit of coffee to keep the cakes extra moist, a sprinkle of cocoa for flavour and a swirl of cream cheese icing with a little mini egg for extra Easter credentials. If you’re more of a ‘look in the cupboards and see what’s there’ sort of baker, then this Last minute Easter cake from Miriam Nice doesn’t need any exotic ingredients and allows kids to get creative with the drizzled chocolate decoration.

Put an egg on it

There’s no escaping eggs at Easter, so why avoid them? They’re so symbolic of the holiday and a quick way to give your bake a seasonal finish. Karen Burns-Booth has everything covered – her Easter egg muffins are flavoured with cocoa and topped off with a chocolate buttercream icing with a little nest of mini eggs. If you’re after something with a little more wow factor, then her Creme Egg chocolate drizzle cake really hammers home the Easter message – the fondant centres of the halved Creme Eggs slowly ooze out over the top of the rich chocolate cake, which both looks and tastes incredible.

Easter around the world

Do you feel the UK’s Easter traditions have become a bit humdrum? Look abroad for inspiration – after all, every Christian country in the world has its own unique customs and recipes for celebrating the holiday. In Orthodox Russia, a sweet spiced bread called Kulich is baked and eagerly eaten every year. They’re similar to brioche in texture, with dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon helping to create a warm, inviting flavour. There’s also Pashka, a curd cheese-based pudding topped with honey, almonds and fruit. In Italy, a plaited sweet Easter bread is wrapped around a dyed hen’s egg, which slowly cooks as the bread bakes, while in Bavaria the Prinzregententorte– a layered sponge cake covered in chocolate – is a fitting finish to any Sunday roast.

Simnel pleasures

One of the most traditional British Easter customs – way before the extravagance of chocolate eggs – is the Simnel cake, which harks back to Medieval times. It’s essentially a fruitcake with plenty of marzipan both in the middle and on top, with eleven balls of marzipan to represent the twelve disciples (minus Judas). Sally Abé finishes hers off with a quick blast of the blowtorch, while Kate Doran incorporates the spiced fruitcake flavours into her delicious carrot cake.