For me, Easter is the start of the baking season. I love to see people waking up from their grim winter coma (or ‘hibernation’ as I call it!), it’s like turning on a light switch – giving out a glow of instant happiness and excitement. I always make a traditional brioche crown decorated with boiled eggs in their shell.
Chocolate is a central part of Easter, not just the confectionery eggs and bunnies, but in cakes too. So for me, it really is the perfect time to show off the skills that I learnt during my time as an apprentice chocolatier. If you need inspiration, my new book Chocolat is available to pre-order now, and is filled with some of my favourite chocolate recipes. Or if you’re not a fan of the sweet stuff, my fruit cake is a light alternative which is perfect for spring. I like to decorate it with beautiful large pieces of glacé fruits, which you can get from fine food halls or delicatessens. I glaze the cake first with some sieved hot apricot jam, then arrange the fruits and glaze again to give a professional finish.
- 150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp orangeblossom water
- Zest & juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 175g plain flour
- 100g glacé cherries
- 100g mixed peel, chopped
- 100g raisins
- 100g golden sultanas
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (fan 140ºC/ 325ºF/gas mark 3). Grease a deep cake tin (15cm/6”) with butter and double-line the base and sides with baking paper.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light, then gradually beat in the eggs. Sift the flour into another bowl and add all the dried fruit, then fold this into the creamed mix using a large metal spoon. In a small bowl, combine the orange-blossom water with the zest and juice of the orange and lemon then add this to the mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150ºC (fan 130ºC/300ºF/gas mark 2) and bake for another 1¾ hours until the cake has risen, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating to taste.