Easter, much like Christmas, has food as one of its main focal points, but we are not talking about chocolate eggs despite how tasty they are! Instead we are turning our attention to the various bakes associated with this time of year. So, allow us to take you through some of our favourite Easter bakes you can try at home this coming Easter weekend.

Simnel Cake

This delicious fruit and marzipan masterpiece is an Easter staple so it makes sense to start here! Initially simnel cake was a mothering Sunday tradition which was later adopted by the Easter festival. A classic version of this bake is two layers of cake separated by a layer of marzipan or almond paste in the middle with a further layer added on top for additional decoration. In more recent years 11 (sometimes 12) marzipan balls are added to the top of the cake to represent the apostles of Jesus.

The main idea for simnel cake is that it is a light fruitcake traditionally made from the following:

  • White flour
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Fragrant spices
  • Dried fruits (often cherries)
  • Lemon zest
  • Candied peel

However, if you want to put your own spin there are a few different variations you can try. For an added bit of punch brandy can be added to the cake mix or orange flower water for a blast of citrus. Equally, golden syrup can be added for a smoother taste but do note this will make the cake heavier.

If you would rather a lighter cake with a smoother texture reduce the amount of flour you are using by a third and make up the difference with rice flour. Soft brown sugar can also be used to create the same effect.

Another nice addition can be to use nuts as well as the fruit, some will use whole almonds to twin with the marzipan, but we appreciate this isn’t for everyone. As such we would recommend chopped nuts to add some crunch to your cake without being too obtrusive to the mouth. You can also review the fruit choice too, as mentioned cherries are the usual staple however, currants, sultanas, raisins, chopped apricots, peaches and even chopped pears can also be used. One final ingredient which can be added too is some crystallised ginger to give the cake a subtle undertone of flavour.

Remember, you are not just limited to a cake where this recipe is concerned. An inventive twist is to create Lemon Drizzle Simnel Slices. Make the cake as you normally would just substituting a cake tin for a baking tray. Now instead of covering your cake with a decorative layer of marzipan, instead use icing sugar with lemon juice and drizzle the icing over. This works because of the fruity and already lemony flavours the simnel cake has.

Hot Cross Buns

Closely following the simnel cake in Easter tradition is the hot cross bun. Once only eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of lent, the popularity of the bun now means it is a regularly sold item year-round. But apart from a few variants most are quite standard, so why not make your own and add a few changes into the mix.

One of the first things we’d recommend is reviewing the spices and zest you add and look to swap these for slightly different flavours. The lemon zest can be swapped for either orange or lime and the spices can be a simple switch to a different spice or even a switch to something more influential such as ginger like we mentioned in the Simnel cake.

Instead of sultanas or raisins, experiment with other fruits such as cherries, currants or even chopped apricots. In addition, you can also flavour the icing sugar that you pipe for the iconic cross. Toffee flavour can add a warmness to the buns and will complement the golden syrup used to create the shine on the bun. Equally, a hint of chocolate can add a richness to your desert which makes for a wonderful contrast with the fruit.

Alliance Top Tip: When making your hot cross buns, make sure to weigh each piece of dough when kneading the individual buns, this way you’ll ensure they’ll bake simultaneously and result in a uniform batch by way of size.

Now, there is sometimes the problem of making too many hot cross buns, so what should you do with them? Most reputable internet sources would tell you to freeze them for later and we’d be inclined to agree however…. We have a better idea! Why not instead use any extras to make hot cross bread and butter pudding! (I know, I’ll let you gather yourself!).

For a simple version take six hot cross buns and cut them in half across the middle. Butter both the sides you’ve cut and sprinkle with chocolate chips before sandwiching them back together and placing all six in a tray (3 x 2 formation). Beat 2 eggs, 250ml of milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar together and pour over the buns and then scatter some more chocolate chips on top. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes and then wait for it to set and voila, hot cross bread and butter pudding.

If you enjoy the lemony zest and spice of a hot cross bun you can also combine this with a cinnamon swirl recipe to give a hot cross cinnamon swirl. Make your swirl as normal but make sure to add lemon zest, spices and a few currants to the mix. Then the only addition is adding the icing cross at the end for a moreish treat that combines two gorgeous deserts into a fantastic new one.

Easter Biscuits

We now bring you a classic which originated from the West Country; the Easter Biscuit. The basic premise of the bake requires flour, butter, egg yolk, baking powder and sugar. To this mix you would normally add light spices such as cinnamon and mixed spice and currants. Continuing with the trend of other recipes, zest also features in many recipes due to lemon being a popular springtime flavour. Recipes out of Somerset normally include cassia oil for added flavour.

There are many deviations that can be used for Easter biscuits including spice changes and fruit substitutions but one of the most inventive (and most recent) it the addition of icing. The icing adds flavour and colour which can be used to mirror the changing fauna we find this time of year across the country. Equally, you can go crazy with the food colouring and go for more vibrant colours for a real show stopping effect.

Lemon Curd & Orange Cake

Our final recipe for you to try this Easter is a lemon curd and orange cake. The fruity nature of this delightful desert is perfect for springtime snacking, especially with a cup of tea in the now lighter evenings. The succulent texture and taste are brilliant and unlike the above we would recommend simply making this as it should be opposed to messing with the recipe too much.

You’ll need the following:

  • 170g soft salted butter
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g natural yoghurt
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 large orange (zested)
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 10 tbsp lemon curd
  • 20g flaked almonds
  • Lemon zest

Step 1:
Heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / gas 4. Butter a 1-litre loaf tin and line with baking parchment.

Step 2:
Put the butter, sugar, eggs, yoghurt, self-raising flour, ground almonds, orange zest, milk and 5 tbsp lemon curd in a large mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture becomes smooth. Put another 5 tbsp lemon curd in a second bowl and whisk to loosen.

Step 3:
Spoon half the batter into the prepared tin, dollop over the lemon curd and top with the remaining batter. Scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 50 mins, or until the cake has risen and turned golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack, scatter over some lemon zest and slice (if you aren’t a fan of almonds you can leave them off, equally you can garnish with thinly sliced orange).

And that’s it!

We at Alliance hope you all enjoy the Easter bank holidays (those of you lucky enough to get them!) and for those that don’t still enjoy Easter eggs anyway! You’ll find a wide range of baking equipment available here at Alliance Online including mixing bowls, parchment paper, cake & loaf tins, baking utensils, measuring tools and so much more. So, have a look and add proven commercial quality products to your kitchen with Alliance.

Get baking this Easter with these classics
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Get baking this Easter with these classics
Enjoy your Easter weekend with some kitchen fun by way of a baking session. From simnel cakes to hot cross buns and other Easter favourites, Alliance runs through some classic Easter bakes whilst also offering up some unique and tasty twists.
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Alliance Online
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