April Fools’ Day

Easter Sunday this year happens to fall on April Fools’ Day, so what better time to tickle the ribs! Here’s a ‘farm’-load of playful snacks to make.

HOT CROSS BUNNIES

Makes 8

Here’s a twist on traditional hot cross buns.

300g strong white bread flour
1 tsp fine salt
35g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
80g caster sugar
½ tbsp mixed spice
1 orange, zested
1 tsp orange extract
1½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
140ml warm milk, plus extra if needed
60g white chocolate chips
50g cranberries, plus a few extra
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp apricot jam

Easter recipe: Hot cross bunnyCombine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, spice, zest and orange extract.

Stir the yeast and 140ml milk together, and add to the mixing bowl. Stir together to form a sticky dough, adding more milk if the mixture is crumbly.

Tip out onto a work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Add the chocolate chips and cranberries; gently work them into the dough until evenly distributed, about 2 minutes.

Grease a clean mixing bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.

Divide the risen dough into 8 equal balls; roll each into an oval. Make a horizontal cut a third of the way into each oval to make the ears. Place on a greased baking tray, leaving enough space between them for each to double in size. Cover again with a tea towel and leave for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the egg yolk mixture evenly over the buns. Mix the plain flour with enough milk to make a smooth paste that doesn’t run. Spoon into a piping bag and snip a hole in the point about 2mm wide. Pipe ears, eyes, a “cross” nose and mouth. Stick on extra cranberries for the eyes.

Bake for 15 minutes until cooked and golden. Transfer to a wire rack.

Heat the apricot jam with 1 teaspoon of water until runny. Brush over the buns; set aside to cool.


Easter recipe: Meringue chicks

MERINGUE CHICKS

Makes 12

Use any flavouring you like for these bite-size chicks.

1 medium egg white
60g caster sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
yellow food colouring
black food colouring
red food colouring

Preheat the oven to 130°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Put the egg whites in a large, clean, metal or glass bowl and beat with an electric whisk, starting on a low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff and they hold their peaks, 3-4 minutes.

Add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking well between additions, until all the sugar is incorporated and mixture is smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes.

Whisk in the vanilla and enough yellow food colouring to get the shade you like. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag. Cut a 1cm hole at the point.

Pipe 12 small circles onto the lined baking tray, 2cm apart, then carefully pipe a smaller circle on top of each one, finishing with a peak.

Bake until the meringues are dry, 50-60 minutes. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Using a new fine paintbrush, paint eyes, beaks, feet and head feathers onto the chicks with the black and red food colouring. Leave to dry.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Easter recipe: Puff pastry carrots filled with egg salad

PUFF PASTRY CARROTS

Makes 6

We use metal cream horn moulds to shape the carrots, but you can also crumple aluminium foil into cones.

1 sheet (20sq cm) readymade puff pastry
2 tbsp butter, softened
yellow and red food colorings
1 bunch of fresh herbs
egg salad (or salad of your choice)

Preheat oven to 210°C. Grease the cream horn moulds.

Cut pastry into six equal strips. Brush a little butter on the pastry strip and fold in half along the length. Pinch the edges together and roll it out into a rope about 40cm long. Wrap the rope around a mould with the edges overlapping slightly, pressing to seal, until almost to the top.

Mix food colourings (more yellow than red) for orange. Brush liberally over the cones and place seam side down on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake until cooked, 6-8 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove carrots from moulds. Just before serving, fill each carrot with the egg salad (use a piping bag for easy access) and press a sprig of herbs into the top.


Easter recipe: Granola nests

GRANOLA NESTS

Makes 6 medium or 12 mini

We use almonds for ‘eggs’, but use chocolate eggs if you prefer.

1 tbsp butter
1 cup marshmallows
1 cup of your favourite granola
whole candied almonds, seeds and dried fruit

Grease a 6-cup medium muffin tin or a 12-cup mini muffin tin.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and heat until melted. Add granola and mix until well combined.

Divide mixture between muffin cups. Working quickly, press mixture up the sides to form a cup. Leave to set, about 30 minutes.

Fill the nests with the nuts, seeds and fruit.