Tag Archives: Easter

Chocolate Lace-Decorated Favourite Cake

This fabulous cake is based on the sponge recipe I used to create my ‘365 celebration cake’ all the way back in November 2015: it’s really chocolatey and is made even more heavenly by the inclusion of a butter cream containing melted dark chocolate – delicious.

Celebrating Easter as well as my birthday, this cake had hidden in its depths mini chocolate Easter eggs but it was the decorative chocolate lace that was the real incentive to create this showstopper (if I do say so myself!) and now that I know how easy it is to make, it will of course be adorning many a cake!!!! A cake worth celebrating and worthy of any celebration!

Serves 16+

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose bottomed cake tin, buttered and lined with baking parchment

1 x 15cm loose bottomed cake tin, buttered and lined with baking parchment

1 deep cookie cutter (I used a 7cm-wide one but you could use a wider one if you wanted more sweets/eggs hidden in the cake).

340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream

100g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

200g unsalted butter, room temperature

400g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the hidden filling

Mini chocolate eggs, Smarties, chocolate buttons, jewelry – whatever you fancy!

for the chocolate lace

1 x kitchen thermometer

2 x10cm-wide acetate strips, cut so that they will easily go around each of 20cm and 15cm cake sponges

150g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into chunks

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4 and turn your attention to the sponges.

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, a little at a time, ensuring that each addition is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and whizz together.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, tip in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the two cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely. (At this point, I normally wrap them in foil and freeze them until the day I need them).

Time for the buttercream. If you are doing it all on the same day, make the butter cream whilst the sponges are cooling.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Mix together using a small balloon whisk to ensure it is evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Take your larger sponge and cut it in half horizontally to create 2 sponge tiers. Lay one half on a serving plate. Use your cookie cutter to cut a hole in the centre of the remaining large sponge.

Spread butter cream evenly across the bottom sponge and then place the other half, with the hole on top. Also cover this one with a layer of butter cream.

Next, take the smaller sponge and slice it horizontally to create 3 sponge tiers. Use your cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle of the bottom one and then place this tier in the middle of the larger cake, matching up the central holes as best you can (but don’t worry if they don’t match – no one will be able to see).

Spread butter cream across this sponge and then repeat the process with the middle smaller tier. Fill your stacked sponges with your choice of surprise (mini eggs etc), spread butter cream across this middle smaller sponge and then top with the remaining tier – assembly job done – the top and bottom sponges are ‘complete’ whilst the middle three have holes in them, now occupied by treats!

Spread butter cream evenly across the top and sides of the cake and then set aside.

To the lace! Break 100g of the plain chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting point of 47c / 115f. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining 50g chocolate and stir until the chocolate has cooled to 31c / 90f.

Place your strips of acetate onto a flat work surface.

Pour the chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a narrow nozzle or tip it into a squeezy bottle also fitted with a narrow nozzle. Let the chocolate fall out of the nozzle whilst swirling up and down the strips of acetate to create a lace effect. Leave to cool until just set and firm enough to then wrap around the two sets of sponge tiers (about 15 – 20 minutes). Walk off and leave the acetate on for 1 hour. Gently and patiently peel the acetate away, leaving the gorgeous chocolate lace decorating your gorgeous chocolate cake….et voilà!

Serve to a completely wowed group – the lace really does look terrific, then there’s the surprise of the hidden treats and then of course, there’s the most important bit – the fabulously luscious flavour!

Tip…

I make the sponges in advance and then defrost them the day that I want to serve the cake. This way, the kitchen doesn’t look like so much of a disaster area and I can devote my energies to the creative bit. Also, the sponges are much easier to slice accurately when they are defrosting.

If you replaced chocolate butter cream with white chocolate ganache to decorate the sponges, the visual effect would be much more dramatic. However, this was my cake and I don’t like white chocolate!!!

How easy…

It’s all easy but does take time – not one to rush, this one!

Inspired by…

The chocolate sponge and butter cream combination are now a favourite in the Duffield house and have been practiced to produce various creations during the last 2½ years. The lace can be attributed to the BBC and is used to create a Paul Hollywood/Mary Berry showstopper.

Chocolate Easter Cake

Yesterday’s total naughtiness! This most chocolatey of chocolate cakes is based on the same recipe used in the 365 Celebration Cake except I doubled the amount of chocolate butter cream to accommodate the fact that I sliced each sponge in half to create 4 layers of sponge and 3 layers of chocolate butter cream. And inside……a hollow was cut out of the cooked sponges to make room for a jumble of easter eggs and chocolate bunnies to tumble out when the first slices were cut…. The nest was the result of 3 Cadbury’s Flakes being chopped and arranged, stuck together with melted milk chocolate and a pile of mini eggs: Happy Easter!!!!

Easter Simnel Cake

The Christmas cake was finished a long time ago so along comes Easter with the opportunity to create this lovely, richly-flavoured, moist fruit cake with its two layers of marzipan: one in the middle – which really adds to the cake’s moistness – and one on the top which is toasted. The marzipan top is decorated with 11 marzipan balls, representing the 11 true disciples of Jesus (minus Judas), with the larger 12th ball in the middle representing Jesus himself. The cake is definitely a celebration and should take pride of place for Easter tea! Really easy to make if you have an electric stand mixer!

Makes a 23cm cake

What you need…

Ideally, an electric stand mixer (I have a Kenwood K-Mix) otherwise a robust wooden spoon and a lot of strength to mix by hand!)

1 x 23cm round spring form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

for the marzipan

500g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

250g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

2 eggs

½ teaspoon almond essence

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

for the cake

1kg raisins

175g glacé cherries

50g ground almonds

125g currants

300g plain flour

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon mixed spice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

300g soft margarine (I used Stork)

300g caster sugar

6 eggs

1-2 tablespoons brandy, your choice!

Apricot jam, melted, for glazing

What to do…

First, make the marzipan and I’m going to assume a mixer is to hand – this would be hard work otherwise! Fit the mixer with its dough hook. Tip all the marzipan ingredients into the bowl and mix it together on a slow speed until it comes together into smooth dough. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 140°c / 275° f / gas 1.

Wash and dry the mixer bowl and return it to the machine. Fit the ‘K paddle’ (beater attachment).

Into the bowl, tip the raisins, cherries, almonds and currants into the bowl and mix on a slow speed until all are evenly blended. Add the flour, nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon, margarine and sugar and again, mix on a slow speed until all evenly blended. Then drop in one egg at a time, whilst the mixer is still going and mix thoroughly before adding the next one. Finally, add the brandy and mix in.

Cut a little less than half of the marzipan and roll it out to about 1 cm thick on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with icing sugar. Use the base of your cake tin as a template to cut a circle out of the marzipan. Put the scraps with the rest of the marzipan, wrap tightly in cling film and pop in the fridge, ready for use after the cake is cooked and cooled.

Spoon half of the cake mix into your cake tin. Then, lay in the circle of marzipan. Then, top with the rest of the cake mixture. Pop in the oven and bake for 3 hours. Indulge in the fabulous smell that pervades the house!

Leave the cake to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When it’s cold, roll out the rest of the marzipan as above and again cut out a circle the same size as the cake. Glaze the top of the cake with the warmed apricot jam and then lay the circle of marzipan on the top. Use the left over marzipan to create 11 balls of the same size and one bigger one. Brush the bottom of each ball with apricot jam and arrange the 11 balls around the edge of the top of the cake; placing the larger one in the middle. Then, to toast your Easter Simnel cake, either put it under a moderate grill – watch it like a hawk – it will brown quickly, or used a cook’s blowtorch for the job (much more fun!)

Your cake is now ready to take centre stage in your Easter tea celebrations (and, unless there’s a big crowd of you, for several days afterwards!) Moist, rich and a really, really lovely very proper cake! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

It’s not difficult at all if you have an electric mixer – I wouldn’t want to make by hand!

The history of Simnel cake according to my Google search…

The Simnel cake is associated with Easter today, but was originally made for Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. Originally Mothering Sunday was the day when the congregations of the daughter churches of a parish went to the mother church, usually an abbey, to give their offerings.

In the 17th century, Mothering Sunday became the day when girls and boys in service were allowed a day off to go and visit their mothers. This was their one and only holiday. The girls would bake their mothers a Simnel cake as a gift.

Simnel cakes have been baked since the middle ages and it is believed that the word Simnel comes from the Latin ‘Simila,’ which meant very fine flour made from wheat. Made properly, the cake would keep for a few weeks, thus the baking of a Simnel cake for Mothering Sunday was not only a gift from a girl to her mother, but also a test of the girl’s cooking skills. The cake would not be eaten until Easter Sunday, and the whole family would be anxious to see if the cake was still moist.

With the demise of service after the First World War, the Simnel cake began to be treated as an Easter cake in its own right. The cake is decorated with eleven marzipan balls, representing Jesus’ disciples minus Judas the traitor.

 

Easter Hot Cross Buns

These are Mary’s hot cross buns and they ARE gorgeous – really fruity and beautifully spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice. They look fab as well with the golden syrup glaze. I would recommend them but only if you’re having a relaxing day at home, enabling you the luxury of lots to time to revisit the kitchen several times. They’re not difficult, just take some time but very lovely and worth the time.

Makes 12 large buns or 18 medium-sized

What you need…

1 x electric mixer fitted with a dough hook!!!!

2 x baking sheets, lined with Bake O Glide/ baking paper

1 x piping bag fitted with a fine 3mm nozzle (for the crosses)

40g butter

300ml milk

500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting

75g caster sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated zest of 1 lemon

10g salt

10g fast-action dried yeast

1 egg, beaten

200g sultanas

50g chopped candied peel

Olive oil for greasing

for the topping

75g plain flour

100ml water

2 tablespoons golden syrup

What to do…

In separate saucepans, gently melt the butter and also warm the milk, just to tepid.

Meanwhile, into your mixer, chuck the flour, sugar, spices, lemon zest, salt and yeast. Put the mixer onto a slow speed and blend the ingredients together.

Add the melted butter, half the warm milk and the egg and mix until all the ingredients are blended. Add a little milk at a time now and keep checking the blend – the dough needs to come together and be on the wet side, rather than dry. You might not need all the milk. I reckon I had about 50mls that was not required.

Once you’re happy with the dough, add in the sultanas and candied peel and let the mixer do its thing on a low speed for 10 minutes, at which point the dough will be silky and elastic. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and give it a couple of kneads, just to get it into a ball shape.

Smear olive oil all around the inside of a nice roomy bowl, pop in your dough, cover with cling film and then leave it somewhere warm for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. (I put mine underneath the kitchen radiator).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Return to the bowl, re-cover with cling film and leave in your chosen warm place for a further hour.

Turn the dough out again onto your floured surface and divide into 12 or 18 equal parts, depending on whether you want large or medium-sized buns. Shape each 1 into a ball and pop them onto the baking sheets, flattening them slightly.

Slip the baking sheets into a large polythene bag (I used large shopping bags) making sure that the bag doesn’t touch the buns – they’ll stick! Leave for a further hour until the buns have doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

To make the crosses, mix together the water and plain flour to make a paste; then spoon into the piping bag.

When the buns have risen, remove from the bags and pipe a cross on top of each one. Pop the buns in the oven bake for 15 – 20 minutes until pale golden brown (I overdid mine a bit!)

Finally, melt the golden syrup in a pan and, whilst the buns are still warm, brush the top of each one to give them a lovely – sticky – shine. Cool on a wire rack and then dig in to your Easter hot cross buns – they are lovely and worth the return trips to the kitchen!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

They are not difficult at all, particularly if you have an electric mixer. But they do tie you to the house for quite a while so your schedule needs to be such that you can pop back into the kitchen to complete the 3 stages. Absolutely worth it if you have the time.