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Easter Mini Egg Caramel Pavlova

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

A couple of years ago I visited the inaugural South of England Food & Drink Festival. It was one of the best foodie days out my husband and I had ever had. The atmosphere was so family friendly, the food stalls were great, and the indoor country market was full of local organic suppliers.  While we were there we met a couple of local organic egg farmers.  We couldn’t believe what great value their organic eggs were, so we went home with a few dozen which we quickly used up.

As the weeks passed by we completely forgot the name of the egg farmers (and the name of the food festival!), so we really had no idea where we could go to purchase more of their eggs.

Fast forward a couple of years, my husband and I were at watching Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast on TV.   They were featuring a segment about food that goes to waste because supermarkets won’t sell it.  And all because it’s just a little bit funny looking!  Jamie and Jimmy visited an organic egg farm in Sussex that sold tiny little pullet eggs (these are the tiny first eggs hens start laying) to the public because the supermarkets won’t buy them because they’re too little. My husband realised that the egg farm that they were visiting just happened to be the same egg farm that we bought our eggs from at the food show a couple of years earlier.

The Macs Farm pullet eggs

Success! Thanks to Jamie & Jimmy we were able find out that the egg farm was only about a 40 minute drive away.  A few weeks later we headed down to The Macs Farm to buy some eggs!  There are several different grades of eggs that The Macs Farm sells.  The majority of the eggs they sell to the public are the imperfect ones that the supermarkets won’t buy. Eggs that aren’t uniform in size or colour, or ones with wrinkly shells (which I’m told are laid by older hens).  They also sell grade A eggs which are the same ones that you can buy in the supermarket.  We ended up purchasing about 12 dozen eggs that day because they were such good value. Yes, 12 dozen! Did I mention we go through a lot of eggs???

The Macs Farm pullet eggs

Buying eggs straight from the farm is much more economical than buying them from the supermarket.  A tray of 30 organic free range eggs will cost you £3.50 from The Macs Farm.  30 organic free range eggs from Tesco would cost you £9.75!

After getting home from The Macs Farm I was inspired to use some of my eggs to create a new dessert for the upcoming Easter holidays.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

My Easter mini egg caramel Pavlova showcases beautiful fluffy clouds of egg white meringue, sandwiched between layers of whipped cream and dulce de leche caramel, all topped off with a pile of delicious chocolatey cadbury mini eggs. And we all know that no Easter is complete without chocolate mini eggs.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

I really loved this pavlova.  It’s so light and fluffy, and it won’t leave you feeling overly full after an indulgent Easter lunch.  The added bonus is it’s super duper simple to make and assemble.

I used the Meringue Girls recipe for my pavlova discs, and I’ve always found to be pretty much fail proof. The key to the meringue recipe is to double the amount of sugar to egg whites.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

Easter Mini Egg Caramel Pavlova

Ingredients:

150g egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites)
300g castor sugar (must be double the weight of egg whites)
250ml whipped double cream
1-2 Tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 can Carnation caramel
300g chocolate mini eggs (half of them chopped or crushed).

Instructions:

1. Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper, pour in the sugar and bake for about 5 minutes at 200°C (400°F) until the edges just begin to melt.
2. Meanwhile, pour the egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure it’s clean & grease free). Using the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed allowing bubbles to form, increase to high and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Egg whites should be stiff enough that you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out.
3. Remove the sugar from the oven and begin whisking again at high speed. Add the sugar to the egg whites one big spoonful at a time. Once all the sugar is added, continue to whisk for 5 – 7 minutes, or until all the sugar is dissolved. You should be able to rub the mixture between your fingers and not feel any grit from the sugar, and it forms a smooth shiny peak on the tip of your finger.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 100°C (200°F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and trace four 6 inch circles on the paper (two on each paper). Place a dab of meringue on the bottom corners the parchment, and press down so the paper sticks to the pan.
5. Spoon equal amounts of the meringue mixture into each of the four circles. Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the meringue mixture evenly around the circle to form flat meringue discs.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the meringue discs can easily be lifted off the parchment paper with their bases in tact. Let cool completely. The meringues discs can easily be stored in an airtight container will keep for up to two weeks.

To assemble the pavlova:

1. In a medium bowl, combine the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla, and whip until soft peaks form.
2. Spoon a large dollop of cream onto a cake plate, and place a meringue disc on top. (The cream will help to prevent the pavlova from sliding around). Spoon a thick layer of the whipped cream on top of the meringue disc, and then drop the caramel in even dollops overtop of the cream.
3. Repeat step 2 until placing the last disc on top. Spoon the remaining cream on top to the final disc, and top with chocolate mini eggs. Serve immediately.

Any remaining pavlova can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for a day or two, but the crispness of the pavlova will begin to diminish.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

And because my Easter mini egg caramel Pavlova has chocolate mini eggs on top, I’m submitting it to a couple of foodie blogger linkups this month with the theme of chocolate.

Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen

Simply eggcellent

Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavendar and Lovage, and Jane from the Hedgecombers

teatime treats

Triple Layer Chocolate Mud Cake

American chocolate mud cake

Nothing beats a good chocolate cake.  There’s just something so satisfying about slicing your fork through layers of fluffy chocolate sponge before hitting the gooey chocolate frosting centre, and then another layer of chocolate sponge.

For someone who loves chocolate so much, it’s actually been a remarkably long time since I’ve baked a chocolate cake. Probably because I order chocolate cake any chance I get when I’m out, so I try to bake something different when I’m home.

During my unintentionally long hiatus from blogging, I developed a bit of an obsession with layer cakes.  I’d go on late night pinning sprees (my layer cake board is here if you’re interested) where I came across a few different Australian Mud Cake recipes.

Before Pinterest mud cakes had always been somewhat of a myth to me.  The kind of thing you’d make in your back garden when you were a kid.  When I realised they were actually real, I just assumed it was another name for a chocolate cake. Kind of like a Devil’s Food Cake, or a chocolate fudge cake.

Chocolate mud cakes are actually a super dense and moist rich chocolate cake that’s perfect for carving. Some even say they’re similar in density to a brownie. Since they’re an Australian invention, most recipes I’ve found have Australian measurements which differ slightly from UK and American measurements.

American chocolate mud cake

After planning on making a chocolate mud cake for weeks, I’d settled on trying one from one of my favourite cake books – Australian Woman’s Weekly Decorating Cakes, but then I’d read somewhere online that mud cakes can be quite tricky to master.  My fear of failure kicked in, and I ended up switching the recipe I was going to use with one that I’d found on Pinterest which claimed to be an Americanised fail proof recipe.

There’s a serious amount of chocolate in this cake, and it’s gooooood.  I’m not able to compare it to an authentic Australian mud cake, so I can’t say for sure whether this is as good or better than the original, but it was definitely good.  So good that when I bought the leftover cake into the office the next day three different people asked me for the recipe.

The original recipe calls for this cake to be baked in two 8 inch pans, but I baked them in three 6 inch rounds instead and the amount of batter was just right.  The only word of advice I’d give is that if you’re baking these in 6 inch pans, then you’ll need to adjust your baking time and temperature slightly since the cakes will be thicker and take a little longer to cook.  Admittedly I wasn’t paying attention, and forgot my cakes were in the oven so I think the texture ended up being dryer and crumblier than they were supposed to be, but they were still good, and definitely not dry.

This recipe calls for a rich chocolately sour cream frosting, but I opted to go with a chocolate butter cream that I whipped up myself without a recipe, purely because I didn’t have sour cream and I was too lazy to go out and buy some.

American chocolate mud cake

I can’t wait to try baking an authentic Australian mud cake next to see how it compares to this “American” version. If you know a good Australian mud cake recipe, or any tips on baking them feel free to leave me a comment and let me know!

American Mud Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

via Cake Paper Party

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, or 8 ounces, or 227 grams) each halved
7 ounces (198 grams) 72% cacao or more dark chocolate, chopped or broken coarsely (I used Ghiradelli Twilight Delight)
2 cups (14 ounces, or 397 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (2 ounces, or 57 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder (I recommend Cacao Barry Extra Brute or Pernigotti)
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) strong hot coffee or hot water plus 1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups (10 ounces, or 284 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 grams) baking powder
1 ½ tsp (9 grams) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
½ tsp (4 grams) salt

For the Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

½ cup (4 ½ ounces, or 128 grams by weight) sour cream
½ cup (3 ½ ounces, or 100 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (5 ¼ ounces by weight, or 150 grams) corn syrup
1 Tbsp (15 ml) vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (12 ounces, or 3 sticks, or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (3 ½ ounces, or 100 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
4 cups (16 ounces, or 454 grams) powdered sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans* with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
2. In an 8-cup microwave safe container, melt butter and chocolate. Heat butter and chocolate for 1 minute followed with 30 second intervals, whisking until completely melted.
3. Whisk in sugar and then cocoa powder until fully incorporated. Slowly add hot coffee in 3 increments whisking until smooth. Add vanilla and then the eggs one at a time.
4. In a mixer bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix with the wire beater until combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Once it is all added, beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and beat for 30 seconds more until smooth.
5. Pour into cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester just comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out to a cooling rack to cool completely or wrap in plastic wrap until needed. Frost and fill with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting or other icing and filling. Enjoy! *This makes 2 thick layers that can be torted but could also be baked in 3 8-inch pans.

For the Frosting

6. Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 30 seconds to aid dissolving of sugar. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.
7. In a mixer bowl beat butter with a paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in cocoa powder on low speed until smooth and creamy. With mixer on low gradually add in sour cream mixture; beat for 30 seconds to incorporate. Add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth and blended. Note: beating the mixture at a higher speed with result in a lighter, fluffier frosting.
8. Use to frost and fill American Mud Cake or cake or cupcakes of your choice.

American chocolate mud cake

I’m submitting my cake to this month’s Chocolate themed Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavendar and Lovage, and Jane from the Hedgecombers

teatime treats

My triple layer chocolate mud cake also uses free range eggs which you can read about in my post here, so I’m submitting it to Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen

Simply eggcellent

Laduree Religieuse Recipe

Shhh, I have a secret….. I fell in love in Paris.  But not with my husband.  I fell in love with pastries.  Perfect little pastries.  From the first time I set foot into a Laduree patisserie parlour I knew I was somewhere special.  I’d never seen so many gorgeous and unique pastries before, they were like little works of art.  But there was one that immediately stood out – a pretty double stacked pink cream puff lined with white ruffles leading up to a silver pearl at the top.  It was a thing of beauty.  Sadly I never did get to try one that trip because I blew my budget on a box of their signature macarons.  


When I got home from Paris I immediately took to Google and discovered that the pretty pink pastry I saw at Laduree was called a religieuse, and was named so because the pastry is said to look like a nuns habit (headpiece).  

To this day I’ve never fallen out of love with the religieuse, and have always wanted to try and make my own.  So in preparation for Valentines Day I decided to celebrate love by recreating the religieuse from Laduree.  And I kid you not, these were probably the most tastiest things I’ve ever made.  They were to die for, and just as good as the ones from Laduree (which I’ve had on subsequent trips to Laduree.)

Choux pastry provides the base for the religiuese, which also happens to be the same pastry that is used for profiteroles and eclaires so it’s a great recipe to have on hand.  This recipe comes from the Laduree Sucre recipe book, so it’s as authentic as it’ll get.  


This was the first time I’d made choux pastry before so I made sure to follow the recipe exactly as described in the book.  But to my dismay my choux buns didn’t puff up like they should have.  They looked more like English Yorkshire puddings than they did choux buns.  What had I done wrong?  The recipe was very easy to follow and choux pastry is simple to make so I tried again, making sure to follow the instructions very carefully.  The recipe states to bake the choux pastry for about 10 minutes until they have fully puffed up, and then open the oven door a crack to let the steam escape, and cook for another 20 minutes.  I carefully watched my second batch of choux pastry through the oven door and they looked great.  I could see them puffing up nicely, so at the 10 minute mark I opened the door a crack.  I immediately  watched my choux buns defate before my eyes.  How disappointing!  

One thing that stood out while I was piping my choux batter onto my baking sheets was that it seemed a lot thinner than I imagined it would be.  I decided to try the recipe one last time, but this time I used one less egg in order to make the batter slightly thicker.  I also increased the oven temperature and left the door closed the entire time.  Success! My choux buns came out perfectly.  

A few days later I got talking to my friend Sarah from the blog Maison Cupcake and she thought my failed choux pastry attempts may have been down to the fact that I was using a fan oven.  I can’t say for certain if it was the fan that was effecting my first two batches of choux pastry or if it was the consistency of the batter, so I’m going to include the original Laduree recipe as well as my adaptations in pink so you can decide on which one you want to try.  

These religieuse might look difficult to make, but they’re really not.  So go on, and try making them for your special Valentine!


Valentines Day Religiuese
The recipes below are from Laduree Sucre, and have been adapted to make the religiuese.  
Adaptations are shown in pink.


Creme Patissiere

Ingredients:

1 Vanilla Bean *I used 1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
1 2/3 Cups (400ml) Whole Milk
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 Cup – 1 Tbsp (80g) Castor Sugar
1/4 Cup (30g) Cornstarch
1 Tbsp (25g) Butter

*300ml double cream, whipped

Directions:

1.  Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Pour the milk in a saucepan and add the vanilla pod and seeds *or vanilla paste.  Bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat, and cover immediately.  Allow to infuse for 15 minutes. 

2.  In a large bowl whisk the egg yolk and sugar until slightly pale.  Incorporate the cornstarch.  

3.  Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, and bring to a simmer.  Pour 1/3 of the milk over the egg yolk mixture (to temper the egg yolks) , and whisk together.  Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.  Bring to a boil while stirring constantly with a whisk, until thickened.

4.  Remove the creme patisserie from the heat and pour into a clean bowl.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then incorporate the butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and set. 

5.  Although the creme patissiere was delicious, I found it a bit too rich and heavy.  I had some double cream in the fridge, so I decided to whip it up and fold it into my chilled creme patissiere just to lighten it up a bit.  I’m so glad I did because the mixture of the whipped cream and the creme patissiere was absolutely delicious!
  

Choux Pastry

Ingredients: 

1 Cup – 1/2 Tbsp (120g) Cake Flour  *I used plain all purpose flour
1/2 Cup – 1 Tbsp (100ml) Whole Milk 
1/2 Cup – 1 Tbsp (100ml) Water 
1 Tbsp (10g) Caster Sugar 
1 pinch salt 
5 1/2 Tbsp (80g) Unsalted Butter 
4 Eggs *I used 3


Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC)  *I baked mine at 200ºC.   Sift the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and set aside.  In a medium saucepan add the butter, milk and water and bring to a boil.   Remove from the heat, and dump the flour mixture into the liquid.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot.  Set aside and allow to cool.

2.  Add in the eggs one at a time, stirring until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.  *Here I judged the consistency after adding each egg and decided to only use 3

3.  Transfer batter into a piping bag, and pipe into desired shape.  *To make the religiuese you will need to pipe an equal number of small and large circles on your baking sheet.

4.  Bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes.  When they have started to puff up, open the door very slightly (about 1/8 inch) to allow the steam to escape. Continue to bake the choux pastry for a further 20 – 30 minutes with the door slightly ajar, until the choux buns are golden.  *I baked my choux pastry at 200ºC for 25 minutes, and did not open the door.

5.  Remove the golden choux pastry buns from the oven immediately and pierce them with a sharp knife or skewer to allow for the steam to escape.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.


Fondant Topping:

Ingredients:

3oz (80g) White Chocolate, melted
4oz (120g) White Pouring Fondant *I used the Silver Spoon powdered version that you mix with water
Drop of pink food colouring

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl (wide enough to dip your chox buns in) prepare the liquid fondant according to the directions on the package.  Pour the melted white chocolate into the liquid fondant mixture and stir until fully combined.  Add a tiny drop of pink food colouring, and stir until evenly blended.  


To Assemble:

In addition to the above recipes, you’ll also need:

* Silver dragees
* A small amount of buttercreme, or leftover creme patissiere

1.  To fill the choux buns, transfer the creme patissiere into a piping bag fitted with a medium plain tipped nozzle.  Insert the nozzle into the hole in the bottom of the choux bun that you made after they came out of the oven.  Gently squeeze the piping bag so that the creme patissiere fills the cavity of the choux bun.  Repeat until all choux buns are filled.  *Do not over fill

2.  Prepare the fondant topping according to the directions above.  Dip the top half of the smaller choux buns into the coloured fondant, gently tapping off any excess.  Add a silver dragee on top, and place the choux buns on a baking sheet or wire rack to allow the fondant to set.  These will become the tops of your religiuese.

3.  Dip the top halves of the larger choux buns into the coloured fondant, gently tapping off any excess.  Let them sit for a minute or two before gently placing the smaller choux bun on top.  Hold the top choux bun in place for a few moments to ensure it stays put.  Repeat until all of the religiuese are assembled.  

4.  Fit a piping bag with a small star tipped nozzle, and fill with a small amount of buttercream or leftover creme patissiere. Starting with the bottom choux bun, pipe a line of buttercream that stretches to fondant covering of the top choux bun.

5.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  *The religiuese will keep in the fridge for up to two days.



I’m also submitting my Valentine’s Religiuese to a blogger link ups / challenges this month:  Homemade by Fleur’s virtual tea for two Valentine’s Bake Off, as well as this month’s Tea Time Treats link challenge (Perfect Puddings) hosted by What Kate Baked , and finally the Calendar Cakes challenge hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cake.




Queens Diamond Jubilee Hat Cookies


When I was living in Canada I was always a little envious of our patriotic American neighbours.    To many outsiders their patriotic enthusiasm seemed overly excessive and brash, but as a Canadian kid I looked on in amazement.  They took any opportunity they could get to plaster their flag on anything and everything, and I often wondered why Canadians didn’t do the same. 

The patriotic differences really became apparent when July rolled around.  Canada celebrates their birthday with a national holiday on July 1st, while the US celebrates theirs on July 4th.  The Americans always seemed to have loads of festive activities going on like parades, barbecues, block parties and amazing firework shows, while Canadians seemed relatively unfazed by their national day.  Don’t get me wrong – Canadians definitely do celebrate Canada Day with a few fireworks and the odd picnic, and as Vancouver showed during the Olympics, Canadians are extremely proud of their country, but we don’t always shout about it from the rooftops like our southern neighbours do.  

Some of the patriotic things that always caught my eye were all the fun American themed desserts and products that seemed to pop up during the weeks approaching July 4th.  A large part of it I’m sure, was a result of savvy marketing, but the other part was down to sheer patriotism.  

I remember flipping through magazines (most of the magazines were American) and watching programmes like Live! and Martha Stewart and thinking how pretty the desserts and crafts that they were featuring looked in red, white and blue.  For some reason red and white (Canada’s colours) never seemed as much fun.  

With the upcoming Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (marking the 60 year reign of Queen Elizabeth) in a few weeks, it appears that the whole of the UK has gone jubilee crazy.  And I couldn’t be more excited about it!  It’s such a nice feeling to see Union Jacks everywhere – on grocery packaging, home decor, magazines and loads and loads of CAKES! 

It’s so nice to see the whole country getting excited about their heritage and celebrating it with a little red, white and blue.  And I especially love it because it’s the perfect excuse for me to do some fun and festive baking – just like I always wished I could have done when I was younger!

I’ve come up with a few Jubilee themed desserts – one of them was this Jubilee Dome Cake with red and blue flowers and a golden crown that I posted last week.  


I’ve also made these little Jubilee hat cookies inspired by the Queen herself!  It’s no secret that the Queen is a fan of her hats – they even took bets here in England on what colour hat she would wear to Will and Kate’s wedding last year!  

I got the original idea for these cookies from the fabulous book Cookie Swap, and then borrowed a few tips from Bakerella who also made them a couple years ago for Easter.  

I loved making these cookies – they were so fun and easy to make, and I really think they’re just perfect to help celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Seriously – how cute would they  look alongside a nice cup of tea, or arranged together on a stand at your local street party.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Hat Cookies

To make these cookies you’ll need a few things:


Sugar cookie dough – I use Peggy Porcshen’s recipe that can be found in this post here.
A small amount of Royal Icing – Peggy Porcshen’s recipe that can be found in this post here.
Double sided pastry cutters – I used these.  
Mini flower plunger cutters – I used these
White fondant – I used white Renshaw brand
Sugar paste / flower paste – I used Squires Kitchen Sugar Floral Paste
White nonpareils 

Instructions:

1.  Make your sugar cookie dough according to the recipe and instructions here.  Once your dough is chilled, roll it out to the appropriate thickness (about 4 or 5mm).  Using the scalloped edge of the 68mm (2 5/8″) round pastry cutter, cut out as many circles as you think you’d like hats.  These will be the base of your hats.  I think you could make at least 20 hats with the cookie dough recipe – probably more.  Next, use the 38mm (1 1/2″) plain edged round cutter to cut out twice the number of circles as you did with the scalloped cutter.  These will make up the top of your hats, and each hat top requires two smaller circles. Bake according to the instructions in my original recipe post, and then cool.

2.  While your cookies are baking you can start to make the little sugar paste flowers that will decorate the brim of the hats.  Take a small amount of the Sugar Floral Paste and tint it whatever colour you’d like – I used Wilton gel paste colours.  Roll the sugar paste out, and use the flower cutters to cut out various sizes of flowers. It’s easy – honest!  I used some royal icing to attach the white nonpareils to the inside of the flower, but if you don’t have any nonpareils, then a dab of royal icing will do just fine. Set the flowers aside to dry.

3.  Once your cookies are nice and cool you’ll need to start building your hats.  First you’ll need to roll our your fondant, and use the same sized scalloped edge pastry cutter you used for the base of the cookies to cut out the fondant circles that will sit on top.  Use the end of a paintbrush or chopstick to make small indents around the scalloped edge.  Put a little royal icing on the scalloped cookies and then place the matching fondant pieces on top making sure to line up the scalloped edges.

To make the second part of the hat you’ll need to glue two of the smaller circles together by adding a dab or two of royal icing on the top of one of the small circles.  Next, use another dollop of royal icing to fix the bottom of the smaller stacked circle to the scalloped fondant covered cookie base.  Using the small cookie cutter, cut out enough fondant circles to cover the tops of the smaller circle stacks.  


Next you’ll need to cut some fondant strips to wrap around the stack of small cookies – use a small ruler to make sure the fondant strip is the same width as the cookie stacks, and long enough to wrap around them.  Fix the strips around the cookies using royal icing.  Use your fingers to smooth out the fondant strips and blend them into the fondant tops.

Lastly, it’s time to add your sugar paste flowers – simply glue them on in whatever arrangement you like, and there you have it – little Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Hats!


I’m sure it’s pretty safe to say that these hat cookies will likely end up inside your tummy – but I’d really like to know what’s happened to all of the Queen’s own hats?  Seriously – Buckingham Palace must have one gigantic room filled with 60 years worth of the Queen’s hats!


Because my hat cookies have flowers on them, I’m also sending them over to The Tea Time Treats monthly challenge hosted this month by Karen of the blog Lavender and Loveage, and other months by Kate of What Kate Baked.  This month’s theme is floral, so I think they’re a perfect fit!

Easter Bunny Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Easter Bunny Cake

I haven‘t been this excited about Easter for nearly 20 years.  It’s the first year we’re in our new house, the first time we’re having friends and family over for Easter dinner, and most importantly, the first year my little boy will really understand what the Easter Bunny is!

I’ve gone a bit overboard with the Easter goodies this year.  I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough chocolate foil eggs to stock a Tesco Express.  When I came home last weekend with yet more Easter stuff, my husband remarked “I’ve never seen anyone with so much Easter stuff before”. I’ve got Easter baskets, Easter bubbles, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, bunny ears, bunny bubbles, chirping chicks, and tissue grass.  You name it, I’ve got it

The only thing missing was an Easter cake.  I needed something for dessert to serve our guests, and I had settled on making a strawberry pie but I knew my husband would never forgive me if I didn’t have a second option. He hates fruit. Seriously – who hates fruit?!? I wasn’t quite sure what to make, but after careful consideration I settled on the most appropriate cake choice I could – The Easter Bunny!  

Easter Bunny Cake

This was the first carved cake I’ve made, so I also had to decide on new cake recipe that was moist and flavourful, but still dense enough to carve easily. A regular sponge cake like a Victoria Sponge is too light and fluffy to carve, and would likely crumble if you tried.  I needed something with a nice tight crumb structure, so after much deliberation I settled on a cream cheese pound cake recipe (similar to a UK Madeira cake) from Southern Living Magazine.  It was perfect.  The recipe made just the right amount for my Easter Bunny cake (three 6 inch shallow rounds, and one extra deep 5 inch round, plus  a 6 inch square pan for my husband to pick at).  The pound cake carved like a dream, and allowed for me to shave off the thinnest of pieces until I got the exact shape I was looking for.

I’m not going to lie, the whole process for making this cake took ages – it took me about 3 days from start to finish (I’m obviously not a professional cake decorator lol!)  On the first day I made the icing (Malibu lemon), and baked the cakes before popping them in the fridge to firm up before carving.  On the second day I filled the cakes with the icing and some lemon curd in between each layer, and then carved the cakes until I was happy with the shape. I covered the iced cake in fondant, made all of the little flowers and Easter eggs, and then made my bunny’s ears. After all, no Easter Bunny is complete without a set of big white and pink bunny ears! On the third day I finished off the cake by making an adorable little fondant chick – complete with floral Easter bonnet, a fondant carrot, I pipped the grass onto the base, and attached the bunny’s nose, eyes, ears and fluffy tail.

Fondant Easter Chick
Easter Bunny Cake

This cake really was a labor of love.  It was a great excuse for me to bake a cake and try out loads of new techniques.  I’m most pleased with my adorable little Easter chick!  I didn’t actually stick her down to the fondant cake board, so I’ll be placing her in my china cabinet once we finish eating the bunny cake.  

Easter Bunny Cake
Easter Bunny Cake

Traditionally pound cake is either baked in a bundt or loaf pan, and served on it’s own or with a side of berries and whipped cream.  It’s a wonderfully dense and flavourful cake that goes  perfectly with a cup of tea.  I just know you’re going to love this cake as much as I did, whether you bake it in a regular cake tin, or carve it into something spectacular.

Easter Bunny Cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Originally from Southern Living Magazine, 2001

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups (340g) Butter, softened at room temp
1 (8-ounce) Package (225g) Cream Cheese, softened at room temp 
3 Cups (675g) Sugar
6 Large Eggs
3 Cups (375) Plain Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 300ºF (150ºC). In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt together and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, and beat well (about 4 mins) but make sure not to over beat.

3.  Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating until combined before adding the next egg.

4.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until just blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

5.  Pour the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan, or parchment lined cake tins (if using).  Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, and then remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.

The cake went down a treat with everyone, and even though it was a bit of a shame to cut my little bunny’s bum off, I loved how easy it was to slice, and that I could see each delicious layer!

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

For more Easter treats to bake, check out my colourful Mini Easter Egg Cakes baked inside of real eggs!