COVER STORY

From tempt­ing treats to deca­dent cakes, bak­ing at home over Easter can be sat­is­fy­ing, ed­i­fy­ing and even up­lift­ing, es­pe­cially if you in­clude the kids. GE­ORGINA SAFE con­sults the bak­ing ex­perts for their tips

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Keen to get started? Find all the Easter bak­ing recipes you need at de­li­cious.com.au

Get busy in the kitchen with our ex­pert ideas for DIY Easter bak­ing.

It’s hard to think of a cosier ac­tiv­ity than bak­ing at home over Easter. Sure, you could buy a cake but a DIY ver­sion has so much more res­o­nance. “It’s an ex­pres­sion of nur­tur­ing and love,” says Na­dine In­gram of Flour and Stone in Syd­ney. “Bak­ing cre­ates wel­com­ing aro­mas and puts peo­ple in a re­laxed state of mind.” It’s also a boon for any­one with chil­dren – a fun, tac­tile ac­tiv­ity. “You are ef­fec­tively sow­ing their child­hood mem­o­ries,” she adds.

Au­tumn is the ideal time for am­a­teur and even first-time bakers to roll up their sleeves. From hot cross buns to sweet loaves, bri­oche to bis­cuits, there’s an Easter recipe to suit ev­ery skill set and ev­ery set of taste­buds.

We asked some lead­ing bakers for their tips on fir­ing up the oven.

DON’T GET CROSS ABOUT BUNS

Jo­ce­lyn Han­cock, owner of Cake & Bake in Bris­bane, be­lieves the se­cret to per­fect hot cross buns is a sear­ing oven.

“Don’t turn the oven on just be­fore you put them in – it needs to be at 250°C for at least 20 min­utes,” she says. Then, drop the tem­per­a­ture to 180°C so the buns still “jump” or rise. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to pull them apart once done and al­low them to cool on a wire tray. Han­cock also in­fuses her glaze with cardamom, cin­na­mon and or­ganic peel.

EN­LIST THE LIT­TLE ONES

“Bak­ing is a won­der­ful way to bond with your kids,” says Kirsten Tib­balls, who runs the Savour Choco­late & Patis­serie School in Mel­bourne. “My 10-year-old son loves mak­ing hot cross buns with me and we also make choco­late Easter eggs to­gether.”

Tib­balls ad­vises let­ting go of any in­hi­bi­tions about cre­at­ing chaos and al­low kids to tap into their in­ner Jamie Oliver. “That’s when you get the most plea­sure and en­joy­ment out of it,” she says. “Kids love kneading and rolling dough and cut­ting out lit­tle bis­cuits by hand, and gen­er­ally that means mak­ing a mess.”

DAN­GLE A CAR­ROT CAKE

For time-poor bakers, Lon­don-based Aus­tralian vir­tu­oso Dan Lepard ad­vises re­cruit­ing the kids as a kitchen hack. “Getting chil­dren to help with a car­rot cake is good be­cause there are so many dif­fer­ent el­e­ments,” he says.

“Let the chil­dren grate car­rots, en­sur­ing they’re not grat­ing fin­gers, and al­low them to mea­sure sul­tanas and nuts since they don’t need to be ex­act. They can also but­ter the tin and mix the cream cheese un­til it’s soft.”

BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO CLAS­SICS

In­gram sug­gests tweak­ing dishes to give them your own spin. “So long as you main­tain the ba­sic ra­tios of a recipe, you can mix ev­ery­thing else up,” she says.

She rec­om­mends re­plac­ing flour with ground nuts, turn­ing a car­rot cake into a parsnip and pear cake, adding raisins in­stead of choco­late chips or re­plac­ing milk with co­conut yoghurt.

“Or use your favourite An­zac bis­cuit recipe but stir chopped crys­tallised ginger through it,” says Lepard.

LOOK TO THE BOUNTY OF FRUIT

“Ap­ples and pears, which you can buy cheaply, lend them­selves to home bak­ing well,” says Lepard. “Think about baked cheese­cakes, rich fruit­cakes and any­thing choco­late.”

Speak­ing of which, Lepard likes to com­bine milk and dark choco­late for a child-friendly treat with adult ap­peal.

GO GLOBAL FOR IN­SPI­RA­TION

To wow your guests, con­sider how other cul­tures com­mem­o­rate the end of Lent. In­gram loves Italy’s schi­ac­ciata di Pasqua, a fluffy sweet bread made on Good Fri­day, and a round bri­oche called pogne which is tra­di­tion­ally baked in France. Eastern Euro­peans favour an eggy bread that is en­riched with dried fruit.

The Rus­sian kulich, a sug­ary yeasted bread, has the added drama of XB ini­tials, which stand for “Christ is risen”. “Main­tain the in­tegrity of how that bread would be made,” says In­gram.

MAX­IMISE MINI CON­FEC­TIONS

When re­view­ing how to present your mas­ter­pieces, Lepard sug­gests go­ing mini. “That doesn’t mean you eat less but you feel like you are, and they’re quicker to bake,” he says.

Make hot cross buns half the size, or bake sim­nel cake, a light fruit cake, in cup­cake cases, topped with a thin disc of marzi­pan while they’re still hot so that it melts on top.

METHOD TO YOUR MAD­NESS

Prepa­ra­tion is key. “Once you have de­cided what you want to make, read through the recipe twice, tak­ing into ac­count ev­ery de­tail right down to the bak­ing pa­per you need to line the tin,” ad­vises In­gram.

SWEET THER­APY CAN BE YOURS

“Bak­ing is an in­cred­i­bly ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­ity and you get such plea­sure from mak­ing some­thing then shar­ing it with friends and fam­ily,” says Han­cock.

“It doesn’t have to be a work of art,” she adds. “And even if you for­get the bak­ing pow­der it will still be de­li­cious – just a lit­tle flat­ter.” Homemade de­lights are also free of the sta­bilis­ers and preser­va­tives some com­mer­cial bakers use for longevity. These treats are des­tined to be pol­ished off.

GET CRACK­ING Easter hot choco­late with hot cross bun spiced bis­cuits. For the recipe, go to de­li­cious.com.au

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