A show-stopping Easter

As most of you know, I need no persuasion when it comes to enjoying baking and ofcourse Easter has such a natural affinity with all that is sweet, comforting – and contains eggs! There is plenty to tempt you here so gather friends and family for a laid-back Easter weekend – I’ve some great recipes for you to choose from.

Easter Simnel Cake

Easter Simnel loaf cake

Serves 12-14
Prep 40 minutes (plus cooling)
Cook 1 hour 45 minutes

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g Billington’s soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime and 1 orange
75ml cointreau
100g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
75g mixed peel
250g luxury mixed fruit
1 tbsp chopped stem ginger
4 large eggs, lightly whisked
225g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp whole milk
200g ready rolled marzipan
for the top
200g ready rolled marzipan
2 tbsp apricot jam

1. Heat the oven to 160C, fan 140C, gas 3. Pour the cointreau into a bowl and add the fruits, ginger and zest to soak up the alcohol. Meanwhile, grease and line the base of a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Unroll the marzipan and cut out a rectangle the length and size of the loaf tin. Set aside until needed.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs, flour, ground almonds, mixed spice and milk and whisk further until you reach a smooth consistency. Finally stir in the fruit mixture with the liquid. Pour half the cake mixture into the loaf tin, then cover with the layer of marzipan. Top with the remaining cake mixture and smooth the top.
3. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Gently heat the jam until liquid. Dust a work surface with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to 1cm thick and trim so it’s a little bigger than the tin. Use the trimmings to form 11 small balls. Brush the top of the cake with jam, and lay the marzipan rectangle on top. Crimp the edges with your fingers and dot the balls around the cake evenly, securing with more warm jam. Serve as it is, or caramelise the marzipan with a blow torch, or under a hot grill.


Carrot cakeCarrot cake with vanilla bean icing

Serves 8-10
Prep 35 minutes (plus cooling)
Cook 40 minutes

250g unsalted butter, softened
250g Billingtons golden caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp Nielson Massey vanilla extract
250g self-raising wholemeal flour
150g carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
75g tinned pineapple, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest only
1 tsp mixed spice
50g sultanas
100g pistachios, roughly chopped
50g pecans or walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
For the lemon and vanilla syrup
50g Billington’s light muscovado sugar
juice of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the vanilla cream cheese icing
75g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing sugar, sifted
1 x 180g tub of Philadelphia
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.
2. In a bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes, or until light and fluffy. Gradually pour in the eggs and the vanilla extract, then add the flour and continue to mix for a minute. Fold in the carrot, pineapple, zest, mixed spice, sultanas and nuts.
3. Divide the cake mixture equally between the two tins and flatten with a spatula. Bake on the middle shelf and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the centre of the cakes.
4. Meanwhile, make the lemon and vanilla syrup by heating the sugar and lemon together for a few minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn both cakes out on to a wire rack and brush the tops of the warm cakes with the syrup. Allow to cool whilst you make the icing.
5. Cream the butter, Philadelphia and vanilla bean paste together into the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and continue to mix until you achieve a spreading consistency.
6. Sit one of the sponges on a plate or stand, and spread with half of the icing. Place the second sponge on top, and cover with the remaining icing. Decorate with more zest, chopped pistachios and edible flowers if you wish.


image2Vanilla & Chocolate hot cross buns

These are also perfect for freezing.

Prep 35 minutes, plus cooling and rising
Cook 30 minutes
Makes 12 buns

500g white bread mix
50g butter, softened and cut into pieces
100g Billington’s light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
50g sultanas
50g chopped mixed peel
250g dates, chopped
1 large egg, lightly whisked
250ml warm whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Plain flour, for dusting
For the top of the buns
3 tbsp plain flour
75g Billington’s caster sugar
2 tbsp orange juice

1. Empty the bread mix flour into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, spices, mixed peel and dried fruit.
2. Make a deep well in the centre, then pour in the beaten egg, milk and vanilla bean paste. Add the chocolate and start by using a wooden spoon to mix, then follow with your hands until a dough consistency is formed.
3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface, adding a little more flour if it becomes too sticky.
4. Cut the dough into 12 equal parts and place in a 20cm x 20cm greased tin lined with baking paper.
5. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for at least two hours, or until springy to the touch and doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 220C, fan 200C, gas 7. To make the crosses, form a paste with the flour and 3 tablespoons of water, then transfer to a piping bag and pipe a cross on top of each bun. Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes.
7. To make the glaze, gently warm the sugar and orange juice together in a small pan until all the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the buns on to a wire rack and brush over the glaze whilst they are still warm. Leave to cool.

Recipes, styling & photography: Natalie Seldon

About prettyediblestylist

Cookbook author, Food and recipe writer, Food and Prop stylist, Photographer, Jo Malone London stylist, Estella Cupcakes founder. Instagram: @prettyediblestylist
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