The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
Cracking Easter bakes
With her hot cross ‘bunnies’ and fluffy rum baabaas, Kim-Joy Hewlett shows us how to have fun in the kitchen this weekend
Easter is a great time of year to go wild with colour. I love injecting my personality into my baking, and the themes of Easter – chicks, rabbits, springtime flowers – allow for so much creativity. We could all use a baking project to help us relax at the moment, and it’s a fantastic thing to do with kids over the spring holidays.
Absolutely everything about a hot cross bun appeals to me: cinnamon, currants and citrus are some of my favourite things. In my recipe overleaf, I love how the dough rises to make it look like the little bunnies are slightly sunken into the bread, and as though they are peeping out from their warren.
I came up with the carrot cookies after seeing people make little animal cookies for Chinese new year. The dough is easy to shape, and the colour will stay vibrant after baking. They’re gluten-free too, which means they’re also deliciously soft and crumbly.
The funfetti cake, above, is a real showstopper. You need to give yourself enough time – bake the cakes one day and decorate on the next, otherwise you might find yourself exhausted by the time it gets to the washing up. I’d recommend a turntable for this, plus an offset palette knife and scraper to keep the icing nice and neat.
The most important thing is to have fun with it. Do your own thing and go off piste – that’s the joy of baking. A lot of people think of it as scientific and precise, but I think it’s quite fun when something doesn’t go to plan. Embrace the cracks and wonky bits, and incorporate them into your design. It’s Easter: there’s no need to stress about it.
Crisp on the edges and gooey in the middle. You can play about with additions (use your favourite chocolate, or different nuts), but just keep the total amount the same; the large quantity helps make these cookies extra thick.
You can freeze the scooped balls of cookie dough, instead of chilling them; they’ll just need a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from frozen.
Makes 15 large cookies
115g unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
130g light brown sugar
85g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste 2 medium eggs
1½ tsp baking powder 250g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
100g roughly-chopped white chocolate
150g roughly-chopped dark chocolate
150g roughly-chopped toasted walnuts
150g mini eggs, crushed with a rolling pin or similar
Cream together the butter, salt and two sugars until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until combined.
Add the baking powder, plain flour and cornflour and mix by hand until mostly mixed but some visible flour remains (this is to avoid overmixing and overworking the gluten). Add the roughly-chopped chocolate and nuts. Mix until roughly evenly combined. Use your hands, a spoon or an ice-cream scoop to scoop into balls. No need to smooth them out, just leave them rough. They should be about 80g each. Place the balls of dough on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, keeping at least a cookie-sized space between each one, as they will spread out a lot (you will need two to three trays for all the cookies). Stud the tops of each cookie with the crushed mini eggs.
Chill for one hour in the fridge. Just before they have finished their chilling time, preheat the oven to 230C/210C fan/Gas 8 (these cookies bake at a higher temperature than most). Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. They should be brown on the edges, and still soft in the centre. They will look underdone, but they will firm up and continue to cook while they cool. So be careful not to overbake them.
Leave to cool on the baking tray for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling – if you can wait that long…