Ever since I was sturdy enough to stand on a chair next to my grandmother in her kitchen, I’ve loved to bake. Learning to bake cakes is one of my most enduring and fondest memories, and I can’t wait for my son to learn to bake with me in a couple of years. While baking everyday treats can be fun, baking for the holidays always feels extra special.
With Easter just around the corner, I wanted to share two recipes with you—one simple, and perfect for kids of all ages to get involved in; one a more complex project, easily able to occupy older kids who are home for the Easter break.
These traditional Easter bakes are delicious and a perfect addition to your family’s brunch table.
Chocolate Nest Cakes
These delicious chocolate cakes are quick and easy and perfect for little ones to decorate. They don’t have to look perfect, as long as the kids have fun piping the nest and putting the little eggs inside!
- Oven, preheated to 375°F
- Mixer or bowl and wooden spoon
- Scales and measures
- Muffin pan and liners
- Piping bag and star nozzle
- 1 + 1/2 sticks butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup cake flour (which has a rising agent)
- 3 tbsp high-quality cocoa powder (I use Guittard.)
- 1–2 oz milk
- For the icing: 1 stick butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, and 2 tbsp milk
- chocolate eggs to decorate (I use Cadbury’s mini eggs.)
- Add the softened butter to a bowl and mix in the sugar and vanilla until pale, creamy, and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time.
- Turn up the mixer and add the flour and cocoa powder.
- Add the milk to help loosen the mix, and beat until creamy and well-incorporated.
- Line a muffin pan with liners (there are some cute seasonal ones on Amazon, or at places like Target, Party City, Walmart, etc) and evenly divide the mix between the liners with a spoon.
- Bake at 375°F for around 16–18 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched and a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave the cakes to cool completely.
- Make the frosting by adding the softened butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and a little milk (you may use more or less to create the right consistency) and mixing until well-combined and creamy.
- Spread the top of each cake with a thin layer of frosting, then put the rest of the frosting in a piping bag with a star nozzle. Pipe a circle to create your nest, then fill with 2–3 mini eggs.
Traditional Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns are sweet, spiced buns traditionally eaten in Britain, Ireland, Australia, and many other places on Good Friday, to mark the end of Lent. They are loaded with symbolism: the cross on top refers to the crucifixion, the spices represent those used to embalm Jesus’ body, and the orange flavor symbolizes the bitterness of his ordeal. Though they are a bit of a baking project, they are a delicious treat!
- A large bowl and wooden spoon, or a mixer with a dough hook if you’d prefer
- Scales and measures
- Baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Piping bag or sandwich bag for piping the cross
- Plastic wrap
- 1 + 1/4 cup milk
- 1 lb bread flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fast action yeast
- 2 oz butter
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup raisins and sultanas (I use a mix of both, but you can just use one or the other if you like.)
- 1 apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into small pieces
- zest of two oranges
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp apricot jelly or marmalade
- Heat the milk in a pan on the stove until boiling, then let it cool until you can put your finger in it comfortably. You want it to be warm, but not hot, as that could kill the yeast.
- Meantime, add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter, and beaten egg to a bowl and start to mix it together. Gradually add the warm milk to bring it together to form a dough (whether with your hands, a wooden spoon, or a mixer with a dough hook). It will be soft and sticky.
- Add the chopped apple, sultanas/raisins, orange zest, and cinnamon. It’s actually best to do this by hand, as you can keep working the fruit into the dough as you knead it. It’ll take about 5 minutes. If you’re using a mixer, it may take less time to make the dough smooth, elastic, and a little shiny. Take your time here as the kneading stage is important, building up the gluten in the dough.
- Put the dough into a clean bowl that has been sprayed with oil to stop it from sticking. Cover with food wrap that has also been sprayed with oil and leave it on your kitchen counter for an hour.
- When the dough has doubled in size, take off the wrap, tip the dough out, and use a knife to divide it into 12 pieces of roughly the same size.
- Arrange the little dough balls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, in four rows of three buns, leaving enough space for them to expand and rise again.
- Leave them on the counter to rise (uncovered this time) for another hour. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- In a small bowl, mix the all-purpose flour with a little water to make a thick paste. This will make the “cross” on the top of your buns.
- Add the paste to a disposable piping bag or sandwich bag, then cut off the end/corner of the bag. Pipe a line across the buns, then in the other direction to form the cross.
- The buns are finally ready to bake! Put them in the preheated oven for around 20–25 minutes, until golden brown.
- On the stove, heat the jelly or marmalade until it’s melted. Brush it onto the buns to make them look beautiful and shiny.
- Serve the buns with sweet cream butter, either as they are, warm from the oven, or cool. Leftovers are also wonderful toasted!
I hope you’ll enjoy getting your kids in the kitchen and giving one of these bakes a go over the Easter break!