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    Easter Baking

    by Maisie Walker

    Spring has arrived and Easter is approaching, which means Lent is almost over! For some of us at The Spicery, this means some well deserved treats after 40 days of resisting the things we love (why do we do it…)

    We’ve brought back a few of our past favourite recipes to bring you three Spicery style Easter- related bakes. I’m going to be honest, there were a few setbacks the kitchen and it’s safe to say i’m not a natural baker but I made it through (and took pictures along the way).
    And so onto bake number one! This one’s inspired by Kulich, a Russian Easter Cake, basically like a spiced panettone which traditionally uses raisins soaked in vodka. This time however, we used a recipe for a more simple loaf version using the same rich and fragrant spices (vanilla, cardamon, sweet mixed spice), and creamy paskha (a spiced citrus cream cheese) on the side.

    Fun fact about Paskha: Traditionally made at Easter, Paskha contains ingredients which are forbidden during lent. As well as cheese, it often will contain  butter, eggs, heavy or sour cream, raisins, almonds, vanilla and candied fruits.  It’s white to symobolise the purity of christ, and usually formed into a tall towering pyramid shape to represent the tomb of Christ. Here, we’re just adding a dollop on the side.

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    Kulich, Russian Easter Cake

    You Need:

    4 tbsp milk (60ml)

    100g caster sugar

    100g butter at room temperature

    3 eggs-beaten

    250g self raising flour

    100g sultanas or raisins

    50g candied peel

    40g flaked almonds

    200f cream cheese or mascarpone

    50g icing sugar

    1 lemon

    KULICH SPICES: 1/4 tsp ground cardamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or half a vanilla pod), 1/2 tsp mixed spice

    PASKHA SPICES: 1/4 tsp ground cardamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla powder

    Method

    • Pre heat oven to 170C/gas mark 3
    • Put the KULICH SPICES into the milk
    • Beat the sugar and butter together well until very light in colour
    • Mix in the beaten egg a little at a time
    • Mix in the flour and a pinch of salt
    • Mix in the spiced milk, the zest of the lemon, dried fruit and flaked almonds
    • Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden on top and a knife through the centre comes out clean
    • Mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, juice of 1/2 the lemon and the PASKHA SPICES together until smooth
    • Serve slices of the cake with a spoonful of Paskha on top

    Makes about 10 servings

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    The Paskha is just seriously SO GOOD on top

    Bake number two: Easter Biscuits!

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    Ok, this is where a few things went wrong. I’ve concluded that I added just a bit too much milk in my ‘splash’, which meant adding more dry ingredients to get my dough back to the consistency I wanted! But something great also happened, I found out that the Paskha from the last recipe is delicious on these.

    Easter Biscuits

    You Need:

    110g Butter

    90g Sugar + a bit extra

    1 large Egg – separated

    200g Plain Flour

    50g Currants

    2tsp GROUND CASSIA

    30ml approx. Milk

    Pinch salt

     

    Method

    • Cream the butter and sugar together.
    • Beat in the egg yolk.
    • Sift the flour, salt and CASSIA then fold into the mix. Stir in the currants and add a splash of milk if necessary to make a smooth dough.
    • Chill the dough for 15 minutes or so in a fridge to firm it slightly then roll it out and cut into whatever sizes you prefer.
    • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 0 C / gas mark 4 for 10 minutes or until just lightly coloured on the surface.
    • Beat the egg white then brush the surface of the biscuits with the beaten white and sprinkle the coated surfaces generously with the extra sugar. Return to the oven for a couple of minutes more then cool on a rack.

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    And saving the best for last, the famous Hot Cross Bun!

    Hot Cross Buns

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    You Need:

    500g strong white bread flour

    ½ tsp salt

    2 heaped tsp ALLSPICE

    50g caster sugar

    50g butter, chopped into cubes

    200g mixed dried fruit

    7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast

    200ml milk

    2 eggs

     

    Method

    • Tip the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt, ALLSPICE and sugar.
    • Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the dried fruit, then sprinkle over the yeast and stir in. Gently warm the milk so it is hot, but still cool enough to put your finger in for a couple of seconds. Beat with the eggs, then pour into the dried ingredients.
    • Using a blunt knife, mix the ingredients to a moist dough, then leave to soak for 5 mins. Take out of the bowl and cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.
    • Shape the dough into buns on a floured surface. Space apart on a baking sheet, cover loosely with cling film, then leave in a warm place until half again in size. This will take 45 mins-1 hr 15 mins, depending on how warm the room is.
    • When the buns are risen, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the flour with 2 tbsp water to make a paste. Pour into a plastic food bag and make a nick in one of the corners. Pipe crosses on top of each bun.
    • Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden. Trim the excess cross mixture from the buns , then brush all over with honey or golden syrup. The buns will keep fresh for a day. After that they are best toasted and served with butter.

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    Although they didn’t rise as much as expected in the proving stage, they do expand in the oven, so never fear!
    They’re especially delicious still warm from the oven, and maybe with a little Paskha spread on top?

    Conclusion= Paskha is good with EVERYTHING

    Happy Easter!

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