Hopefully, breakfast in bed made up for losing an hour’s sleep when the clocks went forward on Mother’s Day? Still, at least we have the lighter evenings to enjoy now. I love this time of year – the change of seasons, brighter mornings and longer evenings make me feel energised and put a spring in my step!
I’m excited about the months ahead as my work calendar is filling up with some fabulous projects that I can’t wait to tell you about. And, of course, we have the Easter break to enjoy too. My girls are ready for the holidays and I’m also looking forward to taking a bit of time off, but only after I’ve finished baking some delicious treats.
Talking of which…my Easter Bouquets are selling like hot cakes! Don’t worry, it’s not too late to place an order – they are just £20 for 7 delicious cupcakes. A perfect posy of yummy flavours - raspberry, rose and vanilla – guaranteed to make everyone smile. To order your cupcake bouquet, please get in touch before Wednesday 12th April.
Whilst baking, I’ve been thinking about Easter traditions. Simnel Cake is a special fruit cake eaten at Easter. Traditionally, the cake has a layer of marzipan on top and is decorated with marzipan balls which represent the disciples, although Judas is left out as he betrayed Jesus, so there are 11 instead of 12.
The custom of exchanging eggs began long before the Easter celebrations we’re familiar with. Eggs are a symbol of the new life that returns to nature at this time of year. Back in the Middle Ages, they were decorated in bright colours to welcome in the new Spring. Today the brightly coloured eggs we exchange are made of chocolate and wrapped in foil!
Easter is also a great time for gathering friends and family together. So, why not create a fabulous centrepiece for your celebrations by baking a Chocolate Nest Cake? It’s easier than you think and creates a real wow factor.
Velvet Fig’s Choc-tastic Easter Nest Cake
Preparation time: approx 40 minutes
Baking Time: approx 40 minutes
single layer cake /double layer cake
Butter 170g/ 340g
Caster Sugar 170g /340g
Self-raising flour 140g 280g
Large eggs 3 /6
Drinking chocolate 85g/ 170g
Boiling Water 3 tbsp /6 tbsp
For the chocolate buttercream topping:
150g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder, mixed to a paste with 2 tbsp of boiling water
Chocolate mini eggs to decorate
First, decide if you would like a single layer cake or a double layer with butter cream in the middle. The method below is for a double layer cake.
If you are making a single layer cake, use the first column of ingredients and make only one cake.
Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees fan and line 2 x 8 inch round cake tins.
Carefully measure all the cake ingredients in to a bowl or mixer
Use a hand-blender or a free-standing mixer to mix everything together until the batter is smooth.
Divide between the 2 cake tins and level the mixture.
Bake in the oven for approx. 40 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer in to the cakes and if it comes out clean, the cakes are cooked.
Allow the cakes to cool.
Using a hand-blender or free-standing mixer, take 150g unsalted butter and mix in 300g icing sugar.
Put the cocoa powder in to a cup or small bowl and mix it in to a paste with the boiling water. Add this to the butter cream and mix until smooth and fluffy.
If the icing is a little stiff, add a teaspoon or two of milk. You are looking for a butter cream that is smooth and soft, but not too loose or runny.
To decorate the cake:
When cool, trim one of the cakes so the top is flat and place on your plate or stand. Spread a little butter cream and put your second cake layer on top.
Snip the end off a large disposable icing bag and insert a piping nozzle (I recommend using a 2d piping nozzle).
Scoop the rest of the butter cream into the bag and push it right down to the end.
Starting from the outside, pipe butter cream swirls around the edge of the cake and 3 swirls in the centre to create “nests”. Finish by adding mini eggs to the centre of each swirl.
My top tips for a great bake:
Ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature.
Line your tins with baking parchment so your cake will turn out in one piece.
Measure your ingredients accurately.
Cover the bowl or mixer when making the butter cream, otherwise the icing sugar will go everywhere.
Make sure there are no air bubbles in your piping bag before you start to pipe.
Whatever you’re doing during the Easter break, I hope it’s choc full of fun and Spring-time sun!