Lesley Waters' Easter baking masterclass
PUBLISHED: 14:36 17 April 2014 | UPDATED: 14:54 15 March 2018
Entertaining friends or family over the holidays? Lesley Waters gives a seasonal classic a modern twist, bakes a savoury Easter Egg pie and presents wow-factor desserts
Easter Apricot Paris Brest - serves 8
“This light and delicious dessert is a real show-stopper,” says Lesley. “It also works beautifully with spring rhubarb as well as summer berries and nectarines and peaches. Try blackberries and roasted apples in the autumn and pineapple and passion fruit to lift your spirits in the winter months.”
For the choux pastry
100g butter, cut into small pieces
115g plain flour
4 medium free-range eggs, beaten
For the filling
200g soft, dried apricots
1 large orange, juice only
2 cardamom pods, cracked (optional)
25g caster sugar
4tbsp apricot jam
250ml double cream, lightly whipped
25g flaked almonds, toasted
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C fan assisted, gas mark 5. Place the water, salt and butter in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove pan from the heat, add the flour in one go and mix with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to a low heat and mix continuously until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
2 Gradually add the beaten eggs to the cooled mixture, mixing well between each addition until the mixture is of dropping consistency.
3 Place the choux mixture into a piping bag and pipe the mixture into a circle about 20cm in diameter onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.
4 Set aside to cool, then split horizontally with a serrated knife. Scoop out any uncooked paste from choux ring halves and discard. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
5 Meanwhile, place the apricots, orange juice, cardamom and sugar in a shallow pan and heat gently until the apricots have absorbed all the orange juice. Set aside to cool. Remove cardamom pods.
6 To make the apricot glaze, heat the apricot jam and pass through a sieve. Set aside to cool.
7 Brush some of the apricot glaze onto the base of each choux half. Place one choux half, cut side up, onto a serving plate. Spoon the whipped cream into the base and top with the cooled apricots. Place the remaining choux half (cut side down) on top. Brush the top of the choux ring with the remaining apricot glaze and while still sticky, sprinkle with the toasted flaked almonds.
Sultana & Cranberry Hot Cross Buns - makes 10
“As an extra treat for the kids substitute the dried fruits with milk chocolate chips or a good dark chocolate for those extra antioxidants. Serve buns warm or toasted and spread with butter.”
14g fresh yeast
55g caster sugar
350g strong white flour
1tsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
good pinch salt
170ml milk, warmed
1 medium, free-range egg
55g butter, melted
200g dried fruit (cranberries, raisins or sultanas )
For the crosses
55g plain flour and water
For the glaze
2tbsp caster sugar
1 Place the yeast and 1tsp of sugar in a small bowl and mix together with the back of a teaspoon until it turns to liquid. Set to one side.
2 Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the remaining sugar, nutmeg, mixed spice and salt and combine well. Make a well in the centre of the mixture. In a jug beat together the warm milk, egg, melted butter and liquid yeast. Pour into the well and mix together to form soft dough. If too dry add a little more milk, if too sticky add a little more flour.
3 Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Place the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes, until risen and doubled in size.
4 Turn out the dough and knead again, working in the cranberries and sultanas at the same time. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and shape into round buns. Place on a non-stick baking tray, spaced well apart.
5 Using a knife, mark a cross on the top of each bun. Cover loosely with cling-film and leave to rise again for approximately 20-25 minutes or until nearly doubled in size again.
6 Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Meanwhile make the paste for the crosses. Mix the flour with 60ml/4tbsp water until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a greaseproof paper cone and snip off the end. Pipe a cross onto each bun. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack.
7 Make the glaze: Put the sugar and milk into a small pan and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away for a minute, remove from heat. Brush the glaze over the buns and allow to cool.
Savoury Easter Egg Pie - serves 6
“Serve warm or cold or cut into slices for a picnic. I like to vary this by using a smoked cheese or by frying off some good bacon or chorizo and sprinkling it over the eggs…gorgeous!”
450g shortcrust pastry
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
400g cooked, green lentils or 1 x 400g can cooked green lentils, drained & rinsed
115g smoked Cheddar cheese, grated
7 medium free-range eggs
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Optional: Dorset Black truffle salt*
1 Preheat the oven to 190°C fan assisted, gas mark 6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out two thirds of the pastry until large enough to line a 23cm medium deep, ovenproof dinner plate. Fit the pastry into the plate but do not trim the edges.
2 In a large bowl, toss together the mustard, lentils and cheese, season with Dorset Black (or sea salt), ground black pepper and spoon into the lined pastry case. Make six indentations with the back of a spoon into the lentils. Crack one of the eggs into each indentation, taking care not to break the yolks. Scatter over the thyme leaves.
3 Roll out the remaining pastry until large enough to form a lid. Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and brush the edges of the pie. Gently place over the pastry lid, push the edges to make a tight seal and then trim away any excess pastry. Crimp the pie edges and brush all over with beaten egg. Roll out any pastry trimmings and cut out some decorative shapes with an Easter themed cutter (bunnies, ducks, chickens!). Decorate around the edge of the pie and brush them with beaten egg.
4 Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden. This is delicious served with tamarind, pear and date chutney.
Tamarind, Pear & Date Chutney - serves 4
1 onion, cut into chunky, wedge like strips
25g light muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons tamarind
2 ripe dessert pears, cored and thickly sliced
170g fresh dates, roughly chopped
1 In a large frying pan, heat the butter. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes over a very low heat until softened. Increase the heat, stir in the sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden.
2 Stir in the beer, tamarind, pears and dates. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the pears and dates have softened. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes until slightly reduced and chutney like. Allow to cool. This chutney will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for about a week
Rhubarb & Orange Polenta Cake - serves 8-10
“Serve this truly scrumptious gluten-free pudding with thick Dorset cream or custard. Vary the flavours by using any citrus and topping with sliced apple, pears, plums, berries or nectarines depending on the season.”
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
115g semolina or instant polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest & juice 2 oranges
Approx. 3 sticks of forced rhubarb (the bright pink type), cut into 10cm sticks
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 5. Lightly oil a non-stick 23cm (9inch) spring form or sponge tin and line the edges with greaseproof paper.
2 Place the butter and sugar in a food processor and whizz together. Next gradually add in the eggs until combined. Finally add the almonds, semolina (or polenta), baking powder and orange zest, whizz briefly to combine.
3 Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and place the rhubarb slices over the surface (I usually do it like the spokes of a bike wheel). Sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar and bake in the oven for approximately 50-60 minutes until firm and golden.
4 When cooked, remove the cake from the oven and prick the surface with a thin skewer. Spoon the orange juice over the surface of the cake and allow to stand for 20 minutes before serving. If you want dust each slice with icing sugar before serving.