Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter Cakes

Lizzie's Chocolate Cake and Sweetpea's Simnel Cake and Paschka

SIMNEL CAKE Cream 170g butter and the same of caster sugar and then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time with a little of the 170g plain flour to avoid curdling. Fold in the rest of the flour and 1 small teaspoon of baking powder, 2teaspoons of mixed spices, 450g dried fruit previously soaked in a little alcohol or cold black tea if you wish, and 55g chopped candied peel.

You could use self raising flour instead of the plain flour and baking powder, you could use candied cherries or another substitute. This year I used candied papaya. Dried fruit should be raisins and sultanas , but currants could be used. I like to use a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground mace and ground anise. You can make your own almond paste but I buy it quite cheaply in France.

So into a greased and floured cake tin, preferably with spring released loose base add half of the cake mix. Then a rolled out circle of almond paste and then the rest of the fruit mixture.

Bake in a pre-warmed oven 170°C in a fan-assisted oven, otherwise 180°C for about 2 hours, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool for a short while, then remove the cake from the tin. Run a knife around the tin if the cake is stuck. Spread some honey or apricot jam on top of the cake. Roll a second circle of almond paste to fit the top of the cake. Make 11 small equally sized balls, about 12g each. Using egg white stick the balls around the edge of the cake. Decorate using some cleaned eggshells, or models of chicks and chickens, rabbits or flowers. Tie with a ribbon. Voila! Joyeuses Pâques!

This year I have discovered this wonderful dessert from

Cream 100g butter and 100g caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add 400g curd cheese. I used fromage frais!, 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 2 teaspoons vanilla essence, 100g chopped blanched pistachios, 100g dried cranberries but I used dried raspberries, 100g chopped candied peel but I used dried papaya and fold in 200g thereabouts of whipped double cream. I used crème entière.
Then put this into a muslin cloth inside a sieve or colander and leave in the fridge overnight to drain. Use the whey in soups. You can press the paschka into a heart shaped mould if you wish but I left the paschka as a semisphere and decorated it with broken pistachios and fresh strawberries. This amount would serve 8 to 10 persons.

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