Bake away those February blues

February, when we’re over our January blues but not quite back in our happy place. When we’re hanging in limbo between winter and spring and the reality of hard work and a new year is driving you absolutely crazy. Not to mention the weather. Windy, cold, rain, gusts, blue skies, crisp air and back to rain again.

Here at Laythams we understand the importance of keeping busy when it’s not so nice outside and with Easter just around the corner we have a lot of free range eggs to be used up and you probably do too. We’ve shortlisted a few recipes you can dig into and get busy producing on those dreary days.

1. Chocolate Pudding for the chicklets – these scrumptious little delights take just over 30 minutes to prep and bake

Ingredients

* 50g/2oz butter, 75g/3oz caster sugar, 4 large British Lion eggs, separated, 300ml/1/2pt milk, 50g/2oz self-raising flour, 4tbsp cocoa

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/ Gas Mark 4. Lightly oil 6 x 175ml/6floz ovenproof dishes. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

2. Add the egg yolks and beat again until smooth. Add the milk, flour and cocoa and blend again using the electric whisk until smooth and quite runny.

3. Wash the whisk heads, then in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Divide between the prepared dishes. Bake for 12 mins or until risen. Carefully transfer to serving plates and serve straight away.

2. Easter Chocolate Torte- for the slightly more adventurous bakers out there.

Ingredients

* 100g (3 1/2 oz) butter, softened, 100g (3 1/2 oz) light soft brown sugar, 100g (3 1/2 oz) ground almonds, 4 large British Lion eggs, separated, 50g (1 3/4 oz) fresh brown breadcrumbs, 150g (5 1/2 oz) plain chocolate, melted, 225g (8oz) marzipan, 4 tablespoons apricot jam, melted, 200g (7oz) plain chocolate, 200ml (7 fl oz) double cream

Method

1. Grease a 23cm (9-inch) springform cake tin. Line the base. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the almonds, egg yolks, breadcrumbs and melted chocolate. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture. Spoon into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cover the cake with a damp teatowel and leave to cool in the tin.

3. Remove the cake from the tin and place upside down on a wire rack. Roll out the marzipan and cut out a 23cm (9 inch) circle. Cut the cake in half, brush the cut surfaces with jam, place the marzipan between and sandwich together. Brush the apricot jam all over. Melt the

chocolate and cream together in a small pan, stirring until melted and smooth. Cool icing slightly.

4. Place a baking tray under the wire rack. Pour the icing all over the cake, gently shaking the wire rack to ensure the cake is completely covered. Leave to cool.

5. Decorate with the Easter eggs.

3. Easter Bunny Biscuits – These adorable crunchy snacks are perfect if you want to get the kids involved.

Ingredients

* 100g (3 1/2 oz) butter, 75g (2 3/4 oz) caster sugar + extra for sprinkling, 1 large British Lion egg, 225g (8oz) plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon mixed ground spice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 50g (1 3/4 oz) currants – 12 currants for eyes, 2 tablespoons milk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/400F. Grease two baking sheets.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk. Add the egg and whisk again. Add the flour, spices and currants and mix well.

3. Lightly knead, then roll out to a 5mm (1/4 inch) thickness. Use a bunny or other shaped cutter to press out about 12 biscuits, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

4. Arrange the biscuits on a baking tray and brush with milk. Make eyes with the extra currants and sprinkle over the remaining sugar.

5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Tie ribbons around the necks of the bunnies.

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