Easter delights

If the thought of Easter baking floats your boat, whether it’s the making or indeed the eating (I am almost certainly witnessing a sea of hands held high here!) then seek no further. Palm Sunday is a mere four weeks away and counting. For those of you who have decided to take on Lent with a vengeance, there is no better way than to celebrate Easter in style with some home-cooked cake delights to celebrate the occasion with friends and family.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that with the abundance of baking shows of late thrusted in front of our eyes, the bygone era of baking at home has subsequently been salvaged . I for one am thrilled. We all know that a good slice of home-baked cake feeds the soul and is beneficial to one’s good mood – and thus health if you ask me.

I hope you can feel inspired by these recipes, all of which can be created time and time again throughout the year. Please don’t feel obliged to follow my instructions to the tee. Most of them can be adapted very easily, whether this is substituting the hazelnuts in my chocolate fudge cake for other toasted nuts, such as pistachios (also feel free to omit completely), or using fresh oranges in preference to my own favoured citrus fruit for the lime and raspberry ginger cheesecake. As a huge fan of the unrefined sugars made by Billingtons, I have suggested these are used in my recipes here. They have an impressive selection available in most supermarkets.

Moist Carrot cake

This has been my Easter stalwart for the past few years and I don’t see that changing – ever.  Make this just once, and you will be similarly convinced.

Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon
Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon

Serves 12
Prep 35 minutes
Cook 45 minutes

150g unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
150g Allinson’s wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
100g walnuts or pecans, toasted & roughly chopped
200g carrots, peeled & grated
100g sharon fruit, peeled & grated (substitute with pineapple if you wish)
zest of 1 orange 1 tbsp rum (optional)
50g dessicated coconut
For the orange syrup
50g Billington’s light muscovado sugar
juice of 1 small orange
For the cream cheese frosting
200g philadelphia (full-fat please)
100g butter, softened
250g Billington’s icing sugar
zest of 1 small orange
cinnamon, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins. Whisk together the butter, eggs, sugar and salt for a few minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

2. Sift in the flour, bicarb and spices, then fold carefully to combine. Add the remaining cake ingredients and divide between the two tins. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the sponge is firm and springy to the touch with a lovely golden colour.

3. Make the orange syrup by heating the sugar and orange juice together in a pan until the sugar dissolves and a syrup is formed.

4. Transfer the tins to a wire rack and brush the tops of the warm cakes with the syrup. Allow to cook whilst you make the icing.

5. Mix together the butter and philadephia until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest, then sift in the icing sugar. Spread one third of the icing on top of one of the sponges, then place the other cake on top, before covering the remaining icing all over the cake. Finally dust with some cinnamon powder.

Easy Chocolate truffle cake

Not only is this one of the easiest cakes to make, it happens – joyously – to be one of the most delicious – immensely chocolately but far from rich. My household is totally addicted!

Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon
Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon

This cake is best made up to two days before serving. Also delicious served as a dessert with creme fraiche.

Serves 16-20
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 40 minutes

200g dark chocolate (I’d recommend 50%-70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces 200g unsalted butter
200g Billington’s light muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
50g ground almonds 2 tbsp Allinson’s plain flour
For the chocolate ganache icing
50g dark chocolate (I’d recommend 70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
100ml double cream
1 tbsp Billington’s light muscovado sugar
Blackberries and icing sugar, to decorate (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 20cm diameter springform cake tin. Place the chocolate and butter into a bowl and melt over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not come into contact with the water. Set aside to cool a little.

2. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt for a few minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has nearly doubled in volume. Then fold in the almonds and flour.

3. Pour the mixture into the tin and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes (there should be a slight wobble in the centre of the cake).  Transfer on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely in the tin whilst you make the ganache.

4. In a pan, heat the cream on a low heat, being careful not to reach boiling point. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then remove from the heat. Slowly add the chocolate, stirring as you go. Allow to cool a little before drizzling all over the cake. Alternatively, serve in a jug for people to help themselves. Decorate with blackberries and a dusting of icing sugar if using.

Chocolate and hazelnut fudge cake

Neither of my grandmothers, nor indeed my mother, was a baker but this cake is nonetheless the cake of my childhood. If you yourself have a nostalgic longing for muted sweet comfort, then look no further.

Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon
Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon

Serves 18-20
Prep 40 minutes
Cook 30 minutes

100g dark chocolate, 50g melted & 50g roughly chopped
200g unsalted butter, softened
100g Billington’s dark muscovado sugar
100g golden caster sugar
large pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
1 heaped tsp baking powder
200g Allinson’s plain flour
50g cocoa powder (I use Green & Black’s)
4 large eggs
150ml whole milk
For the chocolate fudge buttercream
200g Billington’s golden icing sugar
175g unsalted butter, softened
50g cocoa powder (I use Green & Black’s)
100g dark chocolate, melted
pinch of salt
50ml whole milk
50g hazelnuts, toasted & finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease 2 x 20cm diameter sandwich cake tins and line the bases with baking paper. Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Slowly add the eggs to the butter mixture, then fold in 1/2 the dry ingredients, followed by the melted chocolate.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients, then pour in the milk and fold in to the mixture with the remaining chocolate until you reach a dropping consistency.

3. Divide between the two tins and bake for about 30 minutes, or until firm and springy on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.

4. Transfer the tins onto a wire rack, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then turn them out to completely cool whilst you make the fudge buttercream. Beat together all the ingredients (bar the hazelnuts if using) until light and fluffy. Place one of the sponges on a serving plate or stand upside down, then spread a third of the icing on top, followed by an even sprinkle of half of the hazelnuts. Place the second sponge the right way up on top, and spread the rest of the icing all over the outside of the cake. Decorate with the remainder of the hazelnuts.

Raspberry and lime ginger cheesecake

Now, this is a beauty. I don’t mean flash or fancy – rather the opposite; there is something simply elegant about its appearance, and yet gorgeously fresh and zesty about its taste.

Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon
Recipe, photography & styling: Natalie Seldon

Serves 16
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 50 minutes

250g ginger nut cookies
1 tbsp Billington’s molasses
75g butter
800g cream cheese (full fat please!)
200g Billington’s caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
juice of 4 limes
zest of 2 limes, plus zest of 1 to decorate
150g raspberries, crushed slightly with the back of a fork (plus extra left whole to decorate)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin.

2. Whizz the biscuits and molasses in a food processor, then add the butter before pulsing again to combine. Evenly line the base of the tin and press down with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.

3. Beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, then slowly add the eggs and egg yolks, followed by the lime juice and zest. Finally fold in the raspberries carefully, allowing the raspberries to bleed swirls into the cream. Pour this onto the biscuit base and place in the oven.

4. Cook for about 50 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set but with a very slight wobble from the centre. Place on a wire rack and remove the outer layer of foil and peel back the first layer from the sides. Allow to cool, then transfer to the fridge. Before serving, I like to pile a few raspberries in the centre of the cake with lime zest on top.

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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