I have been looking forward to Easter with an unusual savagery this year. The reason being I’ve been on a lower-carb diet since January, counting down the cold, grim days until Easter – my alloted “diet break” (or “carb-frenzy”, as I’ve come to think of it).
And, of course, carbs mean baking, and another chance to play with the beloved new Kenwood Chef.
First on the list was a coffee and walnut cake from the charming Primrose Bakery cookbook – a gift for Ricky’s parents, who we saw on Friday. I used a hefty dose of Nescafe Espresso powder in the cake, the cake-soaking syrup and the icing, so I hope it’s not too strong. Just licking the bowl kept me awake for hours!
I wish I’d been a bit more thoughtful about the icing. The specified quantity – one and a half batches of delicious espresso buttercream – seemed like almost too much for just the middle and the top (which looks OK but a bit scruffy around the edges), but not quite enough to do the sides as well. I topped it off with a quick scrape with a ridged scraper, some walnuts and some sugar flowers (which I bought here, but really I should make my own given how much they cost).
Next on the list – hot cross buns. I used Nigella’s recipe from the April edition of Delicious. magazine with a few modifications. I used mixed spice instead of the separate spices she suggests (and I should have used more…), and put in a few more handfuls of fruit, as I felt she had been a bit stingy. I also added a couple of drops of lemon extract to the sugar glaze, which gave the buns a lovely citrus hint.
The Kenwood Chef’s dough hook (aka Pirate attachment) came into its own here, making short work of the mixing and kneading, although I had to add a bit more milk (and then a bit more flour – doh!) along the way. Because our house is freezing and we don’t have an airing cupboard, I rose the dough in the oven – I switched it on to heat up for a few mins then turned it off and popped the bowl inside. This worked brilliantly – I can’t believe I’ve never done it before.
The buns were amazing – light, fruity and fluffy. And there were plenty of stray chewy, baked currants for me to nibble on as a cook’s treat:
Finally, some cupcakes as a gift for my parents. I adapted the chocolate cupcake recipe from the Primrose Bakery book (see recipe below), to give these a hint of spice. I also used three bars of Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate with spices and orange.
My sister Helen came over to help me decorate them:
And we boxed up a few for her to give as a birthday gift to a friend:
Then we ate all the leftover icing and felt very sick. A successful weekend 🙂
- 115g Maya Gold chocolate (1 bar plus about 1 ‘row’)
- 85g butter
- 175g brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 185g plain flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 250ml milk
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170C (gas mark 5). Melt the chocolate and leave to cool (I do this in the microwave).
Get out the beloved Kenwood Chef, or a mixing bowl and spoon, or electric mixer of your choice. Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat well, then add the melted chocolate and beat well again.
Mix the flour, bicarb, baking powder and ginger in a bowl. Mix the milk and vanilla extract in a jug. Add a third of this to the egg/choc mixture, then a third of the milk. Repeat until all the flour mix and all the milk is used up. It’s pretty gloopy at this point.
Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak in another bowl (yeah, there’s a lot of washing up involed), then fold them carefully into the cake mix with a spatula.
Put tablespoons of the mixture into cupcake cases in a muffin tin, then bake for about 20 mins, depending on the ferocity of your oven.
This made 20 cakes. I did find that the finished caked were quite wonky, and not flat on top. never mind, they’re going to be iced anyway…
Maya Gold buttercream
- 175g Maya Gold (1 bar plus the rest of the bar from the cupcake recipe)
- 225g butter, softened
- 1tbs milk
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 250g icing sugar
Melt the chocolate and leave to cool a bit.
Wash up the Kenwood Chef (bowl and spoon/mixer) and start again. Beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until really smooth (5 mins at least). Add the melted chocolate and beat again for at least 5 minutes, to give a lovely, smooth, fluffy buttercream. It tastes amazing 🙂
Pipe onto cupcakes with a star nozzle, then go to town with sprinkles. For Easter, I did a few piping from the centre out to make a “nest”, then sprinkled on chocolate vermicelli and topped with a couple of mini eggs. Super cute!