This Easter get the children involved in all the traditional baking rituals. Here are our ideas for a happy Easter holiday!
Just like Christmas, Easter is a season for the cake baker to really shine. Shrove Tuesday, when householders race to use up the last eggs and butter before Lent, is a great way to start the festivities. It’s celebrated all over Europe, whether you’re a Finn eating jam-filled buns, or a Brit tucking in to Pancakes with lemon. Prefer cake to pancakes? The Simnel Cake is a tradition dating back to the 17th century, when young women baked it for their mothers. Packed with fruit, spices and a hidden layer of marzipan, it’s a great way to celebrate the end of Lent! And what’s with all the eggs? Greeks colour theirs crimson (representing the blood of Christ); Swedish children eat boiled eggs on Easter Saturday; and over here, our Easter celebrations wouldn’t be complete without lots and lots of solid chocolate eggs! Here are some ideas to enjoy them during Easter…
Chocolate Nest Cake
- 110g (4oz) self-raising flour
- 1½ tbsp cocoa
- 1tsp baking powder
- 110g (4oz) margarine
- 110g (4oz) caster sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 75ml (3fl oz or 5tbsp) milk
- 120ml (4fl oz) double cream
- 110g (4oz) milk chocolate
- 1 packet Chocolate Flakes
- 1 large packet Mini Eggs
- Sieve the first three ingredients into a bowl (or processor bowl), then add the margarine, caster sugar, beaten eggs, and milk, and beat until combined.
- Tip into a well-greased 8” round baking tin, and make a deep indentation in the middle (to stop it peaking in the centre).
- Bake at 160ºC for about 50 minutes.
- Test with a skewer – when it comes out of the cake clean, the cake is done. Cool on a wire rack.
- Ice the cake with a simple chocolate ganache: melt a scant 120ml (4fl oz) double cream with 110g (4oz) broken milk chocolate, stir together, then put in the fridge to set.
- Once it’s reached a spreadable consistency, use it to cover the cake.
- Break up one packet of chocolate flakes and press them into the top of the cake to create a ‘nest’.
- Make an indentation in the middle of the flake ‘nest’ and add a pile of mini eggs.
Easter Bakes for the Children to Make
If the children are bored during the Easter holidays, treat them to an Egg-decorating session! You can buy plastic egg moulds in most baking shops, or online, and they’re very easy to use.
- Simply apply a thin layer of melted chocolate to the mould, and leave to dry. (You can do this twice if you want thick, chunky eggs!)
- Once the chocolate is set, turn the eggs out of their moulds, and hand them over to the kids.
- Armed with paper piping bags, melted chocolate, icing, sprinkles and gold dust, they’ll create the finest handmade Easter eggs you’ve ever seen!
Gooey Chocolate Nests
- 3 favourite chocolate bars (Mars, Snickers or Milky Way)
- 25g (1oz) butter
- 75g (3oz) cornflakes
- 1 packet chocolate Mini Eggs
- Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. (You’ll have to do, or supervise, this part.)
- Add the butter and then the chocolate bars, cut into small pieces. Allow to melt slowly.
- Take the bowl to the table, and allow children to get their hands mucky! (Washed and aproned beforehand, please!)
- Add a handful of cornflakes at a time, until the chocolate won’t coat any more.
- Press spoonfuls of the mixture into cake cakes, making an indent in the middle with the back of a teaspoon, and decorate with Mini Eggs.
- Leave to cool, if you can wait that long.
Hot Cross Bunnies
Bun dough is great for kids – they can play with it as much as they like, and it will only improve the final result. You’ll need patience to make this dough, but it will give the children hours of pleasure when they come to mould, shape and decorate it!
- 150ml (5fl oz) milk, warmed
- 1tsp local honey
- 1tbsp dried yeast
- 450g (1lb) strong white flour
- 50g (2oz) caster sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 50g (2oz) butter, melted
- 50g (2oz) currants
- 50g (2oz) mixed peel (optional)
- Sugar glaze made from 1tbsp sugar dissolved in 1tbsp water
- In a jug, mix the warm milk with the honey and yeast, and set aside for about 15-20 minutes, until bubbly.
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the caster sugar, and pour in the yeast, plus the butter and eggs.
- Mix with your hands, kneading for at least 5 minutes.
- Cover with a hot, damp tea-towel and leave the bowl in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
- Now the children can take over. Divide the dough between them and knock it back gently. Give them rolling pins, currants and floured working boards.
- Shape the dough into bunnies with round bellies and floppy ears (not forgetting that the dough will rise and expand in the oven). Use currants to make eyes.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC for about 15 minutes (keep a close eye on them).
- When they’re cooked, brush with the sugar glaze, and allow to cool thoroughly before eating.
Seasonal Cake Recipes
Another great cake recipe for Easter is the Simnel cake, which is a light fruit cake covered with marzipan. Find out how to make one in our feature Simnel Cake and Kentish Lent Pie.