What does Easter mean to you? Whether it’s an opportunity to get the gang around the table, take some time out from our busy schedules, or really hone in on the holiday commemoration, it’s a great time to mix up the routine a little and indulge in something special.
Taking inspiration from some of our favourites restaurants, delis and bakeries across the North East, we’ve picked out four recipes to help you get the spring celebrations underway at home.
PureKnead Lemon & Mascarpone Easter cake
With Easter comes beautiful blooms and the introduction of delicate, fruity flavours. This lush lemon and mascarpone cake by PureKnead Whitley Bay works as the perfect table centrepiece while treating the taste buds.
400g caster sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
8 eggs, lightly whisked
400g self raising flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
Juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp caster sugar
For the filling:
Tub of mascarpone
100ml double cream
Chocolate eggs/edible flowers/lemon
Heat oven to 160°C and grease two 20cm tins.
In a stand mixer (or a hand mixer), beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest. This will take a few minutes, the mixture should go pale and fluffy.
Add a little egg and beat until all the egg is incorporated, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl down (don’t worry too much if it curdles, the flour will correct the mix).
Add the flour with the mixer at stand still, and then turn it slowly until incorporated, add the lemon juice and mix in gently again.
Give it a final quick mix with the spatula, then split into tins. Flatten surface of the cakes with the back of a wet spoon.
Put in the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes. Do not open the oven for the first 30 minutes.
You are looking for a golden colour on top. If you touch the cake from the outer edge to the middle, it should have the same spring and the edges should be pulling away from the sides.
You can also use a probe (a cocktail stick works well) which when inserted should come out clean without any raw cake batter.
Take out of the oven and cool in the tins for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and caster sugar. Pierce the surface of the cake with a cocktail stick and use a teaspoon to divide the lemon drizzle between the two cakes while still warm.
Allow the cakes to cool completely and then remove from the tins. Sandwich the cakes together with the mascarpone loosened off with the cream and some lemon curd.
Decorate with all things Easter – chocolate eggs, lemon slices and flowers (violets, violas, pansies are all ok, do not use any flowers from bulbs such as daffodils or tulips, as they are poisonous!).
Enjoy and have a great Easter!
Scotts of Alnmouth Vegan Curry
Those looking for a less conventional Easter feast should look no further than this vibrant vegan curry from our friends at Scotts of Alnmouth. Packing in plenty of spice, flavour and good-for-the-soul ingredients, it’s a great way to mix up the celebrations this year – because, why not?
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp deggi mirch chilli powder
1 tsp yellow Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 litre vegetable stock
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
100g desiccated coconut toasted
2 tsp sesame toasted
2 tsp poppy seeds
2cm of fresh ginger
Fresh coriander, chopped
Medley of vegetables, roasted
1 can of chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil, add the onions and cook until translucent. Stir in the turmeric, ginger, asafoetida and garlic, then combine and cook for a further five minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and remaining spices and cook for another five minutes.
Add vegetable stock and cook for 20 minutes until slightly reduced, then add the cherry tomatoes. Combine the toasted coconut, sesame and poppy seeds, briefly blitz these in a food processor to create a dry paste.
Add to the curry sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes, season to taste.
The curry sauce is now ready. Set this aside, even keep overnight to allow the flavours to infuse.
When ready to serve, roast a medley of vegetables until cooked. Good options are cauliflower, fennel, red onion, butternut squash, courgette, potato and sweet potato.
You can also add some cooked spinach and canned chickpeas. Serve the vegetables/beans combined with the reheated curry sauce.
Top with ginger matchsticks and freshly chopped coriander.
Signals Easter Fudge
Makes roughly 36 pieces (using a 20cm square tin)
A signature Easter treat from our friends at Signals Saltburn. Created by owner Josh Newell-Brown’s twin sister Lydia, this one is a sweet family recipe that stands the test of time.
397g condensed milk
200g icing sugar
150g dark chocolate (broken up into squares)
60g white chocolate (broken up into squares)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Mini eggs (broken up into little chunks)
1/2 tsp pink food colouring/beetroot powder
Start by weighing out your ingredients and placing them into little bowls. Preparation is key, always.
Place the condensed milk, dark chocolate and butter in a non-stick saucepan.
Melt the ingredients gently over a low-medium heat, stirring until smooth and silky.
Remove from the heat and sieve in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Mix thoroughly.
Pour the fudge into the lined tin and smooth over the top with the back of a spoon.
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir until melted.
Add the pink food colouring and stir again until you have a lush pink.
Drizzle over the top of the fudge as you wish. Throw your mini eggs and sprinkles on top and make it look as colourful and funky as you wish.
Chill in the fridge for at least an hour or until set, then cut it into chunks of your choice.
Bettys Easter Simnel Cake
Makes a 20cm diameter cake
An Easter feast isn’t complete without an exquisitely decorated simnel cake. Follow this recipe from the best of the best, our tea-and-cake connoisseurs at Bettys.
1kg homemade marzipan (see recipe below) or shop bought white marzipan
260g caster sugar
4 large eggs
350g plain white flour
Pinch of salt
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
350g raisins and 175g sultanas, soaked in 50ml sherry for several hours
150g whole mixed peel (lemon, orange and citron), finely chopped
200g naturally coloured glacé cherries
For the decoration
2 tsp apricot jam
2 tsp water
1 large egg, beaten
Soak the sultanas and raisins in the sherry for several hours.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 1 1/2 (130 ̊C).
Take roughly one third of the homemade marzipan, then wrap the rest in foil and store in the fridge until needed to decorate the top of the cake.
Sprinkle the work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan until it is slightly larger than the base of a 23 cm diameter and 9cm deep loose-bottomed cake tin.
Using the base of the tin as a guide, cut out a circle of marzipan. Set aside.
Line the sides and bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment.
Beat together the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well.
Blend together the flour, salt and spices and add gradually to the mixture. Add the sherry-soaked, raisins and sultanas, followed by the peel. Gently stir in the cherries so they remain whole.
Spoon half the mixture into the cake tin and flatten. Place the circle of marzipan on top and then add the rest of the cake mixture to fill the cake tin.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
The cake will be ready when it is golden brown on top and firm to the touch. Pierce the centre with a thin skewer – it should come out clean.
When cool enough to handle, remove from the cake tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack. To store, wrap in tin foil and place in an airtight container in a cool place.
Divide the remaining marzipan into two halves, 955g each.
With one half make eleven round balls. Roll out the second half until you have a circle of marzipan large enough to cover the top of the cake.
Using the base of the cake tin as a guide, cut out a circle of marzipan as before. Set aside.
Combine the apricot jam and water in a small pan and heat gently until the mixture becomes syrupy. Allow to cool slightly then brush over the surface of the cake.
Preheat the grill. Carefully lift the marzipan circle onto the top of the cake and press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the surface.
Create your own artistic patterns on the marzipan – I use a broad-bladed knife to make a criss-cross pattern.
Once you are happy with your design, brush the surface sparingly with the beaten egg and immediately place the cake under the grill.
Watch carefully as the marzipan colours very quickly. When it has turned a pale, golden brown remove it immediately.
Now place your marzipan balls evenly around the edge of the cake, pressing them onto the toasted marzipan. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and place under the grill again.
Remove when both cake and balls are a deep golden brown.
When cool, cover the sides as desired.
Makes approximately 1kg
250g icing sugar
250g caster sugar
500g ground almonds
2 dessert spoons of sherry or rum
2 dessert spoons of orange flower water
2 dessert spoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
A few drops of vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Add the sherry or rum, orange flower water, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
Gradually add the beaten eggs whilst working the ingredients together to form a stiff paste – you may find that you do not need all of the egg.
Lightly dust the work surface with some icing sugar, and knead the marzipan until smooth.
If not being used immediately, wrap in tin foil and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.