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Recipes: Four unbeatable home-bakes to make this Easter

Easter would be incomplete without sweet treats. Velvet shares four unbeatable home-bakes for the Easter weekend

Easter egg cookies - Tate & Lyle
Easter egg cookies - Tate & Lyle

Courtesy of Tate & Lyle

For the biscuit:
850g Plain flour
1 tsp table salt
250g unsalted butter
200g Tate & Lyle caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
250g Tate & Lyle icing sugar

For the filling (bottom biscuit):
½ jar dried apricots
250g unsalted butter
500g Tate & Lyle icing sugar
Few drops lemon juice

For the iced shell (top biscuit):
250g Tate & Lyle icing sugar

Prepare your biscuit dough by creaming your butter and Tate & Lyle Caster Sugar together with a hand mixer on high speed. It should form a creamy consistency.

Then add your eggs and vanilla to the mix, whisking again until combined.

Add your flour and salt mixture in gradually, beating with the hand mixer on a low speed until your mix is completely combined and forming a soft dough texture.

Form into a ball and pop in cling film to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before using.

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line 2 large baking sheets with butter and parchment paper.

Add some flour to your worktop and roll out your dough evenly until about 1cm thick.

Dip your egg-shaped cutter into some flour to stop it from sticking and cut out 32 egg shapes. Place the first 16 egg shapes onto your baking tray and set aside.

Use a smaller circular cutter to cut a yolk-sized hole in the remaining 16 egg shapes, removing the dough and adding your biscuit tops to the second baking sheet.

Put both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 12 - 15 mins, until golden brown. Pop on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Whilst your biscuits are cooling, whisk your butter and Tate & Lyle Icing Sugar together with a hand mixer, until your buttercream is formed, add a drop of lemon juice for freshness to compliment your apricot jam.

Add the buttercream to a piping bag and allow to chill in the fridge whilst you mix your icing sugar and water together to make a loose paste for the biscuit tops.

To decorate, put your icing sugar mix into a shallow bowl and dip each biscuit top in this mix, coating just the top and pop on a rack to dry. (These are the biscuits you cut a hole in earlier)

Whilst your biscuit tops dry add a generous teaspoon of apricot jam or compote to the bottom half of your (full egg-shaped) biscuits. This will form the yolk.

Pipe your buttercream around the edge of the rest of the bottom biscuit and set aside.

Once the icing on the tops is completely dry, sandwich these to your bottom biscuits, and you'll get egg-shaped sweet apricot-flavoured biscuits for everyone to enjoy.

Easter egg cookies - Tate & Lyle
Easter egg cookies - Tate & Lyle

Courtesy of bennettopie.com

An Easter centrepiece that’s simply stunning - and also a clever way to use up leftovers. . .

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS (to serve eight):
6 hot cross buns
120g butter, softened
1 large pear, cored, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
1 jar Opies Black Cherries with Kirsch
1 jar Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup
6 eggs
200ml milk
300ml double cream
75g caster sugar
110g brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease a round 25cm ovenproof baking dish.

Stand each hot cross bun on its side and using a sharp knife slice into 1cm thick slices before spreading one side of each slice with 50g of the butter. Arrange some of the slices around the edge of the baking dish so that they overlap slightly.

Next add a layer of pear slices around the buns, overlapping slightly. Continue layering the bun slices and pear around the dish until you finish in the centre. Drain the cherries and scatter half the jar evenly over the buns, using your fingers to push them in between the layers.

Beat the eggs, milk, cream and caster sugar in a large bowl then pour evenly over the bun slices and leave to absorb for 15 minutes.

Place the dish in a large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until egg mixture is just set. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, empty half a jar of stem ginger and its syrup into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a pan over a high heat and bring to the boil until thickened before adding the remaining butter and stirring until melted. Pour syrup over the bun slices then leave for a further 5-10 minutes before serving. TIP: Use a mandolin to achieve enviably thin slices of pear for your rosette layering.

Mini Eggs Rock Road - Lyle's Golden Syrup
Mini Eggs Rock Road - Lyle's Golden Syrup

Courtesty of Lyle’s Golden Syrup

With just seven ingredients, this easy no-bake Mini Egg Rocky Road recipe makes a delicious homemade Easter gift.

60g Lyle’s Golden Syrup
350g milk chocolate
80g butter
150g digestive biscuits
80g mini eggs (plus a handful more for topping)
50g mini marshmallows
50g fudge pieces

Line a small baking tin with parchment paper.

Put the milk chocolate, Lyle's Golden Syrup, and butter into a heat-proof bowl and place above a saucepan of boiling water. Heat until smooth and fully melted, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding the digestive biscuits, mini marshmallows, fudge pieces, and mini eggs.

Mix well until everything is coated in the chocolate mixture.

Transfer the rocky road mixture into the lined baking tin and press down with the back of a spoon or a glass. Top with more mini eggs.

Place in the fridge to set for 2 hours or overnight.

Carefully cut into 16 equal squares. Eat straight away or store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Easter Nest Cake - Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch
Easter Nest Cake - Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch

Developed by Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch

Preparation: 30 minutes + extra for decorating
Bake: 30 - 40 minutes
Decoration: 45 minutes + chilling time

INGREDIENTS (to serve 10-12):
For the cake (make two for the four-layer cake):
200g self-raising flour, sifted
200g caster sugar
200g butter, softened at room temperature, cut into small pieces
4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
150g fresh blueberries, large ones cut in half if needed
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream and filling (double the quantities for the four-layer cake):
300g butter, softened to room temperature, cut into small pieces
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
75g white chocolate, melted and cooled
1-2 tbsp Blueberry jam

For the nests:
3-4 large shredded wheat, broken and crumbled
200g cooking chocolate, melted

Gel food colouring
Selection of mini eggs
Cocoa powder and icing sugar to decorate

Easter Nest Cake - Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch
Easter Nest Cake - Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch

Preheat oven to 180ºC fan/200ºC/400ºF. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin or two cake tins for the four-layer cake.

Mix the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer or by hand until light and creamy.

In a small bowl lightly whisk the eggs with the yoghurt and vanilla extract. Add to the butter and sugar mixture while still beating at a slow speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all mixed in. The mix may curdle with the addition of the eggs so add a spoonful of flour to aid the mixing process.

Add the remaining flour and mix gently until all combined. Add the blueberries and fold into the mixture using a large spoon.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin. Place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

If making the larger cake, start the second cake batter and put both cakes into the oven at the same time.

After 30 minutes, check the cake. Use a cake skewer inserted into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean and the cake is golden and springy on the top then the cake is baked. If not, return to the oven and continue baking, checking every 5-10 minutes. If the top is turning brown but the cake is still raw in the middle, add a layer of tin foil over the cake to stop it from burning.

When baked, remove from the oven. Leave to stand in the tin for 5 minutes and then carefully tip onto a cooling rack, removing the greaseproof paper. Leave to cool completely.

While the cake is baking, make the nests. Break up the chocolate into smaller pieces. Add to a bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt gently, stirring often until melted.

In a large bowl add the broken shredded wheat. Pour over the melted chocolate and combine until the shredded wheat pieces are all coated with the chocolate.

Cut pieces of greaseproof paper into 3 squares approximately 12 x 12 cm. Scrunch up the paper then smooth out and mould into 3 small bowls.

Take a generous spoonful of chocolate shredded wheat mix and add to each bowl. Roughly spread the mixture inside the bowl, you may find it easier to use your fingers. Try not to be too neat with this, you’re creating a small nest so the rougher it looks at the edges the better. Pay a bit of attention to smoothing out the inside so it is bowl-shaped and will be able to hold a few mini eggs inside.

When completed add the nests in their bowls to the fridge to chill for a few hours or overnight.

Make the buttercream. If making the four-layer cake then add the double quantities to the bowl and whisk together. Whisk the butter until it is soft and lighter in colour. Gradually add the icing sugar. Whisk on high for 5 to 10 minutes until almost doubled in size and a light cream colour, with the consistency of whipped cream.

Melt the white chocolate using the same method used to melt the chocolate for the nests. Allow to cool slightly, so that it is still pourable. Whisk into the buttercream until all combined. Roughly divide the buttercream in half and set one half aside to use later with the food colouring.

When the cake has completely cooled, or the following day, take a sharp knife and cut the cake in half to make two layers. TIP: The best way to do this is to place the cake on a flat surface on a table. Bring your eyes down, level with the cake. Take the sharp knife and slowly make a cutting indentation all around the centre of the cake, slowly turning the cake as you do but don't cut through.

Easter Nest Cake - Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch
Easter Nest Cake - Sarah Hemsley for Robert Welch

Once you are happy that you have created a straight and even indentation, use that as a guide, follow the indentation with the knife and cut through the cake as you go until you have two even layers. If making a four-layer cake then repeat the process so you now have four cake layers.

Use the layer with a flat top as the top layer of the cake so set aside. Use a large plate or cake board, add a teaspoon of the white buttercream to the centre of the plate and place the bottom cake layer down (the buttercream ‘glue’ helps it stay in place).

For best results, place the white (uncoloured) half of the buttercream in a piping bag and snip the end or use a plain nozzle. If not using a piping bag, a spoon, palette knife or small butter knife will work.

In a small bowl mix the jam until it becomes a bit runny and easier to spread.

Pipe or spoon a ridge of buttercream around the edge of the base layer of the cake leaving the centre empty. This acts as a barrier and helps prevent the jam from seeping out. In the centre of this add the jam, carefully spreading out with a teaspoon to meet the edge of the buttercream.

Cover the jam layer with more buttercream. Smooth out with a knife and place the next layer of cake on top. If making the large cake then repeat this process with the next two layers.

Once the layers have been assembled use the remaining white buttercream to thinly cover the top and sides of the cake. There should be enough to cover the cake but if not take a little extra, a tablespoon, from the buttercream and put aside to colour, making sure to leave enough to cover the cake with the coloured buttercream.

Place the cake in the fridge to ‘set’ at least for one hour.

Now use gel food colouring to colour the remaining buttercream. Practise first with a spoonful of buttercream to create the right colour. Use cocktail sticks to mix small amounts of colour. TIP: Try mixing two colours to get a more unique shade. I used baby blue and mint green to create a teal/ duck egg blue shade. Start with small amounts of gel colour to make a pastel shade and add more if needed.

Once the cake has chilled. Take out of the fridge and spread a layer of the coloured buttercream over the cake. Start with the top and smooth over the buttercream. Add more to the sides of the cake, smoothing over with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Try to smooth the buttercream to an even layer using the flat edge of the knife or a dough scraper. Don’t worry too much with perfection, small cracks and lines can help create a more ‘eggshell’ look.

To decorate, take a teaspoon of cocoa and place it in a small sieve or ideally a mesh ball tea strainer. Lightly tap a dusting of cocoa in patches over the cake to create a speckled look. Repeat the process with icing sugar. TIP: For the sides of the cake, use a clean and dry paint brush/pastry brush dipped in the powder and flicked upwards at the sides.

Remove the nests from the fridge which should now be set solid. Place the three nests on top of the cake at slight angles propped up against each other. Add a few mini eggs to the nests and scatter some more around the top. Tie a ribbon around the edge of the cake and decorate it with blossom twigs.

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