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Easter Baking

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Hot Cross Buns

Traditionally eaten at Easter, these spicy buns are very tasty toasted and slathered generously with butter or jam. Although the cross that decorates the buns is generally seen as a symbol of the Crucifixion, there is some evidence that buns of this type pre-date Christianity, with the Saxons eating buns with a cross in honour of the goddess Eostre.

Folklore

There are several different beliefs associated with hot cross buns. One superstition states that taking a hot cross bun on a sea voyage will ward against shipwrecks. Another folk tale associated with hot cross buns is that sharing one on Good Friday will ensure friendship throughout the coming year. This is more likely to come true if you say 'Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be' as you split the bun.

easter-baking-ideas

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour 15 min

20 min

1 hour 35 min

Makes 10-12 buns

Ingredients

  • 1 lb All Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dried Yeast
  • 7 fl oz Milk, (full fat is best)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 3 oz Superfine Sugar
  • 2 oz Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 oz Mixed Dried Fruit (raisins, sultanas)
  • 1 tbsp Orange Zest
  • 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour, (for making the crosses on top)
  • 2 tbsp Cold Water
  • Corn syup, (to glaze the buns)

Instructions

  1. Put all the dried ingredients, including the yeast, into a bowl.Stir in the melted butter. In a separate jug, mix together the egg and milk. A little at a time, mix the wet ingredients into the dry until a dough forms. The dough shouldn't be too sticky so if it is, add a little more flour and knead well. Add the dried fruit and continue to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's smooth and the fruit is well distributed. Pop the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the bowl in a warm place for an hour to allow the dough to rise.
  2. Now heat the oven to 400 F and grease a baking sheet (I use vegetable oil and a pastry brush). You can also make the paste for the crosses - mix together the flour and water until you have a smooth paste that you can pipe onto the buns
  3. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns. Arrange them on the prepared baking trays with plenty of space for them to expand. Leave in a warm place until they have doubled in size. Make two cuts on the top of each bun to create a cross. Pipe the top with the paste you made
  4. Bake the buns in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. While they're still warm, brush the tops with a little corn syrup to create a sticky glaze. You can eat while warm, or leave them to cool. They taste good plain, but you could eat them with a little butter or jam.

Alternative hot cross bun

If you prefer, you can use dried cranberries instead of raisins and sultanas in the recipe. Cut out the cinnamon and add another tbsp of orange zest and follow all other steps as shown above.

Easter Cup Cakes

Decorated with green frosting swirl, peach flower and Easter Egg cake pick.

Decorated with green frosting swirl, peach flower and Easter Egg cake pick.

Easter-Themed Chocolate Cup Cakes

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1tsp baking powder.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F / 180 C

2. Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. You can do this by hand but it's a lot quicker with an electric mixer

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each is incorporated before you add the next. Don't panic if it looks curdled at this point. Once you add the flour, it will come back together nicely.

4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the mixture and fold in gently - try not to over-mix at this stage.

5. Using an ice-cream scoop, divide the batter into 12 cupcake cases (best if they are in a deep muffin tin to ensure they keep their shape)

6. Bake for 20 minutes,

7. Place on cooling rack. Once they are completely cooled, decorate with your favourite frosting - suggested recipe below. To give them an Easter feel, use themed cake picks such as Easter eggs or rabbits.


Involve the kids - older kids can help with all stages but younger kids will enjoy decorating the cakes. With a little guidance, they should be able to use the piping nozzles to create the flower effect. To make the flowers, you need to squeeze out a little frosting, pull the tip about 1/2 inch from the surface of the cake and then press down quickly to detach. It takes some practice, so I'd advise trying it out on a sheet of greaseproof paper until you get the hang of it. You can then scoop up the frosting, put it back in the piping bag and re-use. It's great fun for the little ones. If letting the kids loose with putting the decorations on top, just be careful with the Cake Picks- they can be very sharp.

Make Them Gluten Free

To make the cupcakes gluten free, use the following ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup gluten free flour

1 tsp xanthan gum (or if you can get it, Isobel's Baking Fix works really well)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1tsp baking powder.

Follow the method above, adding the milk in just after the eggs.


Buttercream Frosting Recipe

For the cakes shown, this is the buttercream icing recipe I've used. To colour, it's best to use gels as these don't change the consistency of the frosting. Add a little at a time and mix well until you get the colour you want.

Simple buttercream:

To cover 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavouring if preferred)

Instructions:

  1. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and soften - easiest with an electric mixer.
  2. Sift the icing (powdered) sugar into the bowl and add the vanilla extract.
  3. Blend together until smooth.
  4. Add colouring if you wish and mix until completely incorporated.
  5. Place in piping bag using piping tip of your choice. In the examples, I've show, I used flower tips. Add cake picks for a more festive feel.

Springtime theme - for something a little more grown up

Example of a cupcake decorated with floral icing tip

Example of a cupcake decorated with floral icing tip

More Frosting Ideas

Chocolate crispy cakes with little candy eggs.

Chocolate crispy cakes with little candy eggs.

Chocolate Crispy Cakes With Mini Eggs

This is a great little Easter treat to make with the kids. It's quick and easy and relatively inexpensive.

Ingredients (to make about 1 dozen)

10 oz chocolate - you can use milk or dark, depending on preference

1 oz butter

10 oz cornflakes.

1 tbsp corn syrup

Using a heatproof bowl over a pan of warm water, melt the chocolate, corn syrup and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Pour the cornflakes into the melted chocolate mixture and stir carefully - you want to coat the cornflakes, but not break them. Divide the mixture between 10-12 cupcake cases and place three mini candy eggs at the centre. You could use Easter themes cupcake cases to make these even more special.

Kids can get involved at every stage of this recipe but, of course, care should be taken when melting the chocolate and removing this from the heat.

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