A heavenly host of Easter baking

Although you wouldn’t have guessed it was Easter from the weather, the abundance of hot cross buns, simnel cake and roast leg of lamb certainly made it feel like Easter.

My mum put on an amazing Good Friday feast, featuring roast leg of lamb and simnel cake. Simnel cake is a light fruit cake, light because it doesn’t have treacle in it and doesn’t take about 4 hours to cook, made with a layer of marzipan in the middle and decorated on top with another layer and 11 balls of marzipan, to represent the 11 faithful disciples of Jesus. Luckily for me, Jake doesn’t like marzipan, so I got a big chunk of it to take home all for me. I was a little slow with taking the photo, looks like some people had already been tucking in!

Mum's Simnel Cake

My sister has also been baking, knocking up these amazing creme egg cupcakes. There’s not actually any creme egg in them, it’s just the flavours of creme egg in cupcake form with one on top! We’re going to be moving in together in the summer, there’s going to be a lot of cake in that flat!

My sister's creme egg cupcakes

And I finally got round to baking on the last day of this fantastically long weekend. I loved the olive oil cake so much, I decided to make it in the form of cupcakes, topped with orange buttercream. Dairy free, of course! Because the cupcakes rise so well, when you ice them you can get a nice domed top without using sickening amounts of frosting.

Chocolate orange cupcakes

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe. Makes 12 cupcakes.

  • 50 g good-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 125 ml boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 ml regular olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Line a muffin tin with cases.
  2. Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. In another smallish bowl, combine the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
  4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
  5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
  6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the cupcake cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Leave to cool completely before topping with frosting.

For the frosting

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g vegetable fat, such as Trex
  • zest of 1 orange and juice of half an orange
  • A dribble of dairy free milk alternative
  1. Beat together the zest and the Trex until combined and smooth.
  2. Add half the icing sugar and beat until crumbly. Add the other half and beat.
  3. Dribble in some of the orange juice to loosen the mixture. I didn’t use all of the orange juice, adjust to taste and be careful that the mix doesn’t curdle.
  4. Add a dribble of “milk” and beat for a few minutes until light, smooth and creamy.

chocolate orange cupcakes

chocolate orange cupcakes

photo (3)

Chocolate orange cupcakes

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