Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake

Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake

 

For the chocoholic. A light chocolate sponge with a fudgy chocolate filling, topped with a chocolate ganache, sprinkled with three types of chocolate and topped, of course, with chocolate eggs.

 

Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake
 
  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Standing time: 50 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 85g (3 oz) butter, melted (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick) plus extra for greasing
  • 140g (5 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (⅔ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 4 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten
  • 115g (4 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 14g (½ oz) cocoa powder (2 tbsp)

  • For the filling
  • 50g (1¾ oz) plain chocolate/semi-sweet chocolate (7 pieces), finely chopped
  • 70g (2½ oz) butter, softened (¼ cup + 1 tbsp, or ⅝ stick)
  • 55g (2 oz) cream cheese (¼ cup)
  • 85g (3 oz) icing/confectioner’s sugar, sifted (¾ cup)

  • For the icing
  • 100g (3½ oz) good dark chocolate (minimum of 50% cocoa solids), finely chopped*
  • 55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)

  • For the decoration
  • 14g (½ oz) good dark chocolate*
  • 14g (½ oz) milk chocolate*
  • 14g (½ oz) white chocolate*
  • a few gold foil or coloured chocolate mini eggs

  • *I love to use Lindt

  • Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake


  • Equipment
  • A 20.5cm (8 inch) round cake tin, buttered and lined with parchment around the sides and on the bottom


  1. Method
  2. For the cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas mark 4)

  4. Gently melt the butter in a pan, then set to one side to cool slightly.

  5. Measure the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand mixer or food mixer at high speed until the mixture is pale, mousse-like and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted from the mixture. 


  6. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl.

  7. Stir the vanilla essence. into the cooled butter.

  8. Carefully fold half the flour into the egg mixture, then gently pour half the cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and fold in. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

  9. Bake for 40 minutes until well risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and cool on a wire rack.

  10. For the filling
  11. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Remove the bowl and leave to cool for 15 minutes.

  12. In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until it is really soft. Then add the butter and beat until well combined and creamy. A food mixer does this really well. Beat in the icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooled chocolate. Don’t over beat the mixture at this stage or it will become stiff. It should be a fudgy consistency.

  13. Cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together with the filling. Return the cake to the wire rack.

  14. For the icing
  15. Melt the butter and half the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir gently until combined. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir gently until it has melted and the icing is smooth. Leave to cool.

  16. Put a plate under the cake on the wire rack and pour the icing over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Completely cover the sides by spooning a little chocolate round the top rim of the cake so it runs down the sides to fill in any gaps. Any chocolate that has dripped onto the plate below the rack can be reused for this.

  17. Leave for at least 30 minutes to set.

  18. For the decoration
  19. To make the chocolate swirls, grate the dark chocolate onto a saucer using a swivel potato peeler. If the chocolate is hard, soften it a little by putting it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds. Repeat with the milk and white chocolate on separate saucers.

  20. Sprinkle all three types of chocolate swirls over the top of the icing to decorate.

  21. To finish, carefully place a few chocolate eggs on the top.

Updated: March 25, 2017

Easter Lemon Pavlova

I am indebted to Mary Berry of The Great British Bakeoff for this recipe. It is very light, and the lemon makes it a refreshing end to a holiday meal with family and friends.

 

Easter Lemon Pavlova

 

This is a lovely dessert that really does taste heavenly and looks very impressive too. The one thing I like about it is that you can prepare a lot in advance. The candied lemon peel can easily be made the day before and the lemon curd a few days before. The meringue is best made on the day you wish to serve it but that takes very little time to prepare. Then all there is to do is to mix the whipped cream into the lemon curd and assemble everything.

 

Easter Lemon Pavlova
Prepares: 8–10 servings (picture shows 4–6)
 
  • Preparation time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Standing time: 2 hours or over night for the candied lemon zest
  • Cooking time: about 2 hours

  • Ingredients
  • For the candied lemon zest
  • 55g (2 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¼ cup + ½ tbsp) plus extra for coating
  • 2 lemons

  • For the meringue
  • 6 egg whites
  • 340g (12 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (1¾ cups)
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch

  • For the lemon curd filling
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 340g (12 oz) caster/superfine sugar (1¾ cups)

  • 2 lemons at room temperature (to add to the 2 reserved from making the candied lemon zest)
  • 225g (8 oz) butter (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 480ml (16 fl oz) double/whipping cream (2 cups)

  • To serve
  • 30 chocolate mini eggs

  • Equipment
  • Piping bag, fitted with a rose nozzle


  1. Method
  2. For the candied lemon zest
  3. (Can be made up to 24 hours ahead)

  4. Peel the zest from two lemons and cut into thin strips. Reserve the lemons for their juice for the lemon curd.

  5. Put the sugar in a pan with 60ml (2 fl oz) (¼ cup) water and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Then add the zest and boil until syrupy, about 2–3 minutes. Drain on parchment paper, then roll in the extra sugar until they are well coated. Leave to dry in a warm place for at least two hours, or over night.

  6. For the meringue
  7. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas mark 3)

  8. Draw a 25cm (10 inch) circle on a sheet of baking parchment. With the drawn side down, place on a baking tray.


  9. Add the egg whites to a bowl and whisk until stiff but before they get to peak stage. Use an electric hand-whisk or a free-standing mixer. Then gradually add the sugar a spoonful at a time while still whisking on the maximum speed until the mixture is stiff and shiny, and stands in peaks. 


  10. Blend the vinegar and cornflour/cornstarch together in a small bowl until smooth. Gently stir this into the meringue mixture. 


  11. Take half of the meringue and spread onto the baking parchment within the lines of the drawn circle. With the remaining half of meringue fill the piping bag and carefully pipe 10 separate nests equally around the edge of the meringue base. 


  12. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, turn the heat down to 150°C (300°F) (gas mark 2) and bake for 1½–2 hours. The pavlova will be a pale cream colour and will come off the paper easily when ready. Begin to check after an hour until it has reached this stage. Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova in the oven to become cold. 


  13. For the lemon curd
  14. (The lemon curd can also be made ahead of time and once cooled can be refrigerated, covered with cling film, until needed. It will keep in a refrigerator for up to seven days.)

  15. Squeeze the juice from all 4 lemons. (4 medium lemons should yield 12 tablespoons (¾ cup))

  16. Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Add the egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice to the bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

  17. Gradually add the butter to the pan, stirring until the butter has melted and combined.

  18. Continue stirring until it the mixture starts to thicken. Patience is needed for this as this stage can take up to 20 minutes before it starts to thicken. It will thicken suddenly, so don’t give up! Remove from the heat and leave to cool. It will thicken further as it cools.

  19. To assemble
  20. Once the lemon curd has cooled completely, pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk until really thick. Then add it to the lemon curd, gently swirling it through. Spoon a little into each of the nests. Then fill the middle of the pavlova with the remainder (you may not need it all).

  21. Finally, place three chocolate mini-eggs in each of the nests and then sprinkle the candied zest in the middle of the pavlova creating a mound.

Updated: March 25, 2017

Easter Biscuits

Easter Biscuits

 

Easter Biscuits originated in the West Country of England. They were traditionally made on Easter Sunday and given as a gift.

 

Easter Biscuits
Prepares: 16 biscuits
 
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 115g (4 oz) butter (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (⅓ cup + 1½ tbsp)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g (8 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 40g (1½ oz) raisins, chopped (¼ cup)
  • 28g (1 oz) currants (3 tbsp)
  • 28g (1 oz) mixed peel, finely chopped (2½ tbsp)
  • 1–2 tbsp milk
  • caster sugar/superfine to dredge

  • Equipment
  • 8cm/3 inch round, fluted pastry cutter


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and then add the vanilla extract.

  4. Sift together the flour, salt and spices and fold into the mixture.

  5. Then add the raisins, currants and mixed peel.

  6. Add enough milk to give a fairly soft dough.

  7. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and roll out to 5mm (¼ inch) thickness. Cut into rounds using the pastry cutter. Reroll the pastry to cut more biscuits. There should be 16.

  8. Place on a baking tray and bake for 8 minutes.

  9. Remove the biscuits from the oven. Lightly whisk the egg white and sparingly brush over the biscuits, then sprinkle with sugar. Return to the oven for a further 7 minutes, until golden.

  10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Updated March 24, 2017

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

 

Update  My recipe previously included all spice because I couldn’t find the mixed spices used in the U.K. Whilst you can use any spices that you like, I’ve now adapted the recipe to more closely resemble the traditional British flavours.

Tastier than store-bought, we enjoy these traditional hot cross buns at Easter and all year round! I have to thank Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bakeoff for the idea of adding an apple to the recipe. It adds to the flavour and gives them a softer, more moist, texture.

I use a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook but you can knead by hand if you prefer.

 

Hot Cross Buns
Prepares: 12 buns
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 2 hours
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hours
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 75g (2½ oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 150g (5 oz) sultanas (1 cup)
  • 80g (3 oz) chopped, mixed peel (½ cup)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (room temperature) (3 tbsp)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) whole/full fat milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1¼ cups)
  • ¾ tsp all spice
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger

  • For the crosses
  • 75g (2½ oz) plain/cake & pastry flour (½ cup)
  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) water (¼ cup + 1 tbsp)

  • For the glaze
  • 3 tsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp water


  1. Method


  2. Step 1
  3. Chop the mixed peel and the apple into small cubes, grate the zest of an orange into the mixture, and put to one side.

  4. Weigh out the salt, sugar, and yeast, and add to the flour in the mixer bowl, putting the yeast and the salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Then add the sultanas and the fruit that you chopped up, as well as the spices. Mix all these dry ingredients together. (This allows the flour to coat the fruit and prevent it sticking together.)

  5. Add the butter, egg, and milk, and mix on speed 1 until it is all evenly mixed. This only takes about a minute. Then mix on speed 2 for another 8 minutes. While this is kneading, lightly oil a large bowl for the dough to rise in.

  6. The dough should now be smooth, the sides of the bowl should be clean, and the dough should come off the dough hook without sticking. Tip it out onto a lightly floured (or oiled) surface and shape it into a ball. Put it into the oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  7. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  8. While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.

  9. Step 2
  10. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)

  11. Place the dough balls on the baking tray, laid out four by three, about an inch apart. This will give them room to grow so that they’re almost touching after proving. (You want them to join up when baking so that you have to tear them apart when finished.) Cover with a tea towel, or place inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  12. Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5

  13. Step 3
  14. For the crosses
  15. Mix the flour and water into a paste and add to a piping bag with a fine nozzle. Make one half of the crosses by piping across each row of buns in one sweep, starting on the tray and finishing each sweep on the tray at the other side. When all the buns are piped in one direction, turn the tray and repeat, forming the crosses.

  16. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

  17. For the glaze
  18. Warm the apricot jam with a teaspoon of boiling water and brush over the tops of the buns while they’re still warm.

  19. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  20. Unless you can't wait, freeze the buns and defrost when needed.



  21. Tip
  22. It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right. With this recipe they worked out to be about 103g (3⅔ oz) each

  23. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017