Hot cross buns are a natural go-to during Easter but outside of Australia, there’s a whole buffet of options out there. Here are five you could add to your things-to-cook list.
This Easter will be a strange time for many around Australia who celebrate it. With the country forced to stay indoors, a good way to make the most of the long weekend is to make tasty Easter treats.
We’ve rounded up a list of five Easter treats from around the world that deserve your attention — from marzipan-filled cookies to a well-deserved chunk of flavoured cheese. If you’re an avid traveller, this might quench your holiday thirst just that little bit too.
The UK’s simnel cake
First stop is the United Kingdom. During the Easter period, simnel cakes pop up all over the place. It’s essentially a fruit cake consisting of two primary layers — one being almond paste and the other marzipan.
This BBC Good Food recipe will take you 2.5 hours to prepare and cook the cake but you’ve likely got four days off so it’s really small fry.
- 250g mixed dried fruit (a mixture of sultanas, currants, raisins and candied mixed peel)
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 500g pack marzipan
- 250g pack butter, softened
- 200g light brown soft sugar
- 4 eggs, plus 1 beaten to glaze
- 175g plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g glacé cherries, halved
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- Put the mixed dried fruit in a bowl with the orange juice and zest and 2 tbsp water. Cover and microwave for 2 mins, then leave to cool completely. Alternatively, heat gently in a pan, stirring now and then until the liquid has been absorbed and leave to cool.
- Heat oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas. Roll out a third of the marzipan and use the base of a deep 20cm cake tin as a template to cut out a circle. Wrap any off cuts and the remaining two-thirds of marzipan and set aside for later. Butter and line the cake tin with a double layer of parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest, mixed spice and vanilla (all in one go) and mix until well combined. Mix in the cooled soaked dried fruit and fold in the cherries.
- Scrape half the cake mixture into the tin. Top with the disc of marzipan, then the remaining cake mixture, and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 2 hrs. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer to the centre of the cake; if any wet mixture clings to the skewer, return to the oven for another 10 mins, then check again. Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc. Place it on top of the cake and crimp the edges, if you like. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls for the apostles. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles in a circle on top around the outside, and brush them with a little egg too. Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until just starting to caramelise — be very careful as the marzipan will burn easily. Leave to cool and wrap a ribbon around the cake, if you like. Will keep for up to a week in a sealed tin.
During Easter, koulourakia becomes a popular treat for Greeks celebrating the occasion. It’s a vanilla-flavoured pastry, often covered with sesame seeds and sometimes clove for added flavour.
They’ve allegedly been around since the Minoans — an Ancient Greek civilisation, which declined in 1100BCE — so that’s a good marker of their quality. This Taste.com.au recipe is simple enough for you to try that out yourself.
- 200g butter
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 tablespoon lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon orange rind
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 1/4 cups plain flour
- 3/4 cup self-raising flour
- 1 egg yolk
- icing sugar to serve
How to make them:
- Preheat oven 180°C. Beat 200g butter and 1 cup caster sugar until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon each of orange and lemon rind. Beat in 3 egg yolks.
- Beat in 1/4 cup milk, 2 1/4 cups plain flour and 3/4 cup self-raising flour. Bring together on a lightly floured surface. Roll 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a 20cm log. Fold in half, pinch ends together and twist 2 times. Repeat.
- Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Whisk 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush over the biscuits. Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden. Cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Chile’s pan de pascua
Chile’s answer to the Italian panettone is pan de pascua. It’s a delicious mix of fruit, spices and nuts that just screams Easter time.
Our friends over at PopSugar have a great recipe that’ll take you around an hour to make. If you’re a fan of fruit cakes or panettone but haven’t tried this, mix it up this Easter.
- 1/2 cup candied fruit
- 1/2 cup rum
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Soak the candied fruit in the rum, cover, and reserve for about 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and flour a Bundt cake baking pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Add the flour mixture and the milk intermittently, mixing until all is combined.
- Strain the candied fruit and add to the dough. Add the almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, and lemon zest. Combine using a spatula.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until light and fluffy. Fold the egg whites into the dough using a spatula.
- Transfer the dough to the baking pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let rest for an additional 15 minutes.
- Cake keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic.
If you consider marzipan and orange blossom water a perfect holiday duo then Malta’s figolli treats are right up your alley. The cookies have a jam-like filling of marzipan and can be spotted by their colourful bunny and egg shapes, decorated in coloured icing.
SBS Food offers a neat recipe to help you get some in your tummy within an hour.
- 500g (3⅓ cups) plain flour, sifted
- 320g (2 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 2 lemons, zested
- 250g cold unsalted butter, chopped
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 drops orange blossom water
- 250g marzipan
- 10 small Easter eggs
- Royal icing mixture
- 2 egg whites
- 640g (4 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
- Red and black food colouring (optional)
- Place flour, icing sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add egg yolks and orange blossom water and process until mixture just comes together. Turn out onto a clean work surface, shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Divide pastry in half. Roll out one sheet between two pieces of baking paper to 2mm thick. Using a 10 cm decorative biscuit cutter, cut out 10 biscuits. Repeat with remaining pastry to create 20 in total. Place on lined oven trays and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Roll out marzipan to 1mm thick and, using the same biscuit cutter, cut out 10 shapes. Place marzipan on top of 10 of the pastry shapes, then cover each with a remaining pastry shape. Press gently to seal. Return to lined trays and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make icing, whisk egg whites and icing sugar together until thick and smooth. If desired, remove ½ cup icing, divide into two bowls and colour with food colouring, mixing until evenly coloured. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 2mm plain nozzle and pipe around outside of biscuits to create an outline. Set aside for 30 minutes to set. Spoon plain icing onto biscuits to fill inside outline. Alternatively, just coat biscuits in plain icing. Press an Easter egg in centre of biscuit and set aside for 2 hours to set.
Finally, we land on the Russian Easter dish, pashka. This one’s for the cheese fans out there because it’s essentially a hunk of neatly-shaped ricotta cheese, flavoured with almond and raisins. Basically, it’s a cheesecake without the crumbly bottom.
Good Food has a relatively simple recipe but you’ll just have to let it rest for 12 hours or more.
- 80g castor sugar
- 1 egg
- 250g ricotta cheese, well drained
- 150g glace fruit, chopped
- 50g slivered almonds, toasted
- 40g raisins
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 30g soft butter
- 1 tsp orange zest, finely grated
- 1 tbsp thickened cream
- Beat sugar and egg together. In a separate bowl, mix cheese with fruit, almonds, raisins and vanilla. Then add butter and orange zest. Stir in sugar and egg mixture. Fold in cream.
- Spoon mixture into 4 x 150ml moulds lined with damp muslin. Cover with plastic wrap, place a weight on top of each and refrigerate for 12 hours before turning out.
- Serve with strawberries or small candy-coated chocolate eggs
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