Hummingbird Cake

In contrast to the rich heavy foods of winter, Easter foods are fresh and light. Easter is a great time for a family get together, so why not celebrate with these tempting teatime treats? All the recipes use unrefined sugars that retain the natural molasses from the sugar cane- it’s this that gives them their superior flavour. The finest quality unrefined sugars come from the tropical island of Mauritius – look out for this country of origin on the pack to ensure that you are buying the genuine article.

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
This delightful cake originated in the USA. It’s name came about because it contains fruits which hummingbirds love. Light muscovado sugar imparts a lovely fudgy caramel flavour to this luscious cake. The filling and topping use unrefined golden icing sugar, which has none of the overpowering sweetness of refined white icing sugar.

250 g/9 oz self raising flour
275 g/10 oz unrefined light muscovado sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium eggs
225 ml / 8 fl. oz. vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
250 g/9 oz bananas (peeled weight)
110 g/4 oz walnuts, chopped
175 g/6 oz tin (approx.) crushed pineapple

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs with the oil and vanilla extract. Mash the bananas and stir into the mixture with the walnuts, pineapple and juice. Mix well to combine then pour into 2 greased, lined 20cm/8 inch round sandwich tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes Gas 4/180C/350F until light golden brown. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to become cold.

Filling and Topping:
100 g/3 ½ oz butter
175 g/6 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
310 g/11 oz unrefined golden icing sugar

To Make Filling: Cream together the butter and cheese until soft. Add the vanilla extract and sift in the unrefined icing sugar gradually. Use half to sandwich the cakes together and spread the rest on top of the cake. Decorate with fresh spring flowers.

LEMONY EASTER SHORTREADS
Children (and grown ups!) will love these melt in the mouth bunny shaped biscuits. Using unrefined golden caster sugar adds to their delicious buttery taste.

110 g/4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 g/2 oz unrefined Golden Caster Sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons juice
150 g/5 oz plain flour, sieved

Lemon Topping:
3 tablespoons unrefined Golden Caster Sugar
2 tablespoons shredded lemon zest

Gently knead or blend the butter, sugar, vanilla essence, lemon zest and lemon juice together. Then work in the flour to get a fairly tacky mixture. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently bring it all together. Wrap or cover and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3. Roll the dough out thinly, between two sheets of grease-proof paper, as it will be soft. Cut into rabbit shapes or pack into a shortbread mould.

Bake thin animal cookies for 12-15 minutes, and traditional shortbread rounds for about 30 minutes. Ideally, the biscuits should not colour at all during cooking.

Topping:
Traditional shortbread needs only a light shaking of caster sugar at the end of cooking, whilst cooling. For our Easter Bunnies we added a lemony topping, with fine shreds of lemon zest (made with a zester or the finest side of a grater) mixed with a little caster sugar and sprinkled on halfway through cooking or just at the end. Makes about 20 biscuits.

CHOCOLATE TART
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate! The rich flavour of dark muscovado sugar goes particularly well with chocolate and adds extra depth to the flavour of this delectable tart. For the best results use chocolate with at least 60% cocoa butter content.

350 g/12 oz shortcrust pastry
225 g/8 oz plain chocolate
110 g/4 oz butter
75 g/3 oz unrefined Dark Muscovado Sugar
25 g/1 oz unrefined Demerara Sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
150 ml/¼ pt hot water
4 eggs

Roll out the pastry and use to line the base and sides of a 23cm (9″) 3cm (1¼”) deep fluted flan tin. Line with greaseproof paper or foil and weigh down with beans or rice to prevent the pastry rising. Bake blind at 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6 for 15 minutes or until the base is dry.

Put the chocolate, butter and sugars in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water stirring until smooth and melted. Mix the cocoa and coffee with the hot water stirring until smooth. In a large bowl beat the eggs until frothy and stir in the other two mixtures. Pour into the pastry case
and bake at 130ºC/260ºF/gas 1 for 40-45 minutes or until firm and risen. Serve warm or cold with crème fraiçhe, whipped cream or ice cream. Serves 8.

PASKHA
PashkaPaskha, (pronounced Pass-ha) the traditional Easter dessert of Russia, is traditionally made in a special wooden pyramid shaped mould with drainage holes in the base. A sterilised unused terracotta flowerpot can be used instead. This rich, creamy dessert is not difficult to make and makes a stunning centrepiece for the Easter table. You need to make it the day before you intend to eat it. An 18 cm flowerpot is the size to use for this recipe.

This recipe is suitable for Passover as it uses no fermenting agents or leaven. Try to use a selection of glace fruits, e.g. pineapple, cherries, apricots, etc.

125 ml double cream
110 g unrefined golden granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
110 g unsalted butter
750 g unsalted curd or cream cheese
50 g raisins
75 g glace fruits, chopped small
25 g whole candied peel, chopped small
50 g blanched almonds, toasted and chopped

DECORATION: small glace fruits, blanched almonds, candied peel. Bring the cream to the boil, then remove from the heat. Beat the sugar and egg yolks until thick and creamy and add to the cream with the vanilla essence. Heat the mixture very gently, stirring, until thickened, but don’t allow to boil or you’ll have scrambled eggs! Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Cream the butter until soft and beat in the cheese. Fold in the cool custard, raisins, chopped fruits and almonds. Line the flowerpot with a double layer of muslin or cheesecloth and pour in the mixture. Put a small plate on top and place a weight on top to keep it down Place in the ‘fridge with a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Chill overnight. The next day turn it out on to a serving plate and decorate with the fruits and nuts – not forgetting the letters ‘XB’. Cut in slices to serve.

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