31 March 2010

Easter Baking

I took a half day last Friday, I had one hanging around so I thought, why not? And there was all the Easter baking I had planned so it was perfect. As you will remember I wanted to make a Simnel cake, the traditional Easter cake. Although apparently it started out life as a Mothering Sunday cake but has been adopted by Easter. I had a look on t'internet for recipes but plumped for Nigella's in Feast (you can always trust Nigella, if I have said this before I'm sorry but it bears a repeat). Now it turns out that there are many schools of thought on the marzipan balls that sit atop the Simnel Cake. They represent the Apostles, 12 in total. But because Judas betrayed Jesus and went on to kill himself he is left out of the cake-topping joy. Or so I thought. There are some that still put 12 balls on there and some that put the extra one on to represent Jesus, it caused a right to-do when I brought the cake into work (sorry skipping ahead here, haven't even made it yet). So I went with the 11 marzipan balls, never liked that Judas! The cake itself is a light fruit cake with cinnamon and ginger and a disc of marzipan is baked in the centre. Once the cake has cooled another disc of marzipan is perched on it and then the above mentioned 11 marzipan balls. Then the really cool bit, you brush it with whisked egg white and put it under the grill until it goes golden brown (or if you have a blow torch, this works better) and you get the lovely object you see above. I brought it in to work this week and shared the joy, really tasty it was too. I also made some salted caramels on Friday which were a bit softer than usual but nonetheless very tasty and wrapped them in some silver foil for adding to Easter gifts. Saturday was the day to make Easter eggs. As you will remember I am going to make Easter eggs with my nieces and nephews this weekend and I wanted to have a trial run to make sure it was doable. I can tell you it is, very doable. They turned out brill, all I did really was change the state of the chocolate, i.e. melt it and re-mould it as an egg. But, I have to say they look impressive and will form Easter gifts for friends I am seeing this week. I also make some mini eggs to go inside the the caramels made up the rest. All in all it was a very successful baking weekend and lots of fun, it's great having projects.
I'm off to Milan this weekend (to visit family) so will have some news from there next week. I will also be breaking my Lenten fast and boy am I looking forward to that first glass of wine and piece of chocolate, mmmmmm. Happy Easter.

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