Chocolate and almond Easter cake Photo: William Meppem
Roll up your sleeves and fill the kitchen with the irresistible smells of traditional Easter baking, says Adam Liaw.
Chocolate may be the modern food most commonly associated with Easter, but traditionally this holiday has always been about baking.
Early observances of Lent focused on removing eggs and dairy from the diet, so when the fast was broken people looked for the most delicious ways to bring those things back.
Across the world, Easter has given us some of our best-loved baked goods: Shrove Tuesday semla in Sweden, hot cross buns in Britain, tsoureki in Greece, mona de Pascua in Spain, capirotada in Mexico ...
Even if you're not a regular baker, Easter is the perfect time to fire up your oven again, and marrying generations-old baking traditions with the chocolate of modern-day Easter celebrations is a delicious way to start.
Chocolate and almond Easter cake
Mona de Pascua originated in Spain as a savoury roll with a whole egg (shell and all) baked in the centre. This chocolate and almond version is a definite improvement in the flavour stakes.
• 100g dark chocolate
(61% or 65% cacao dark chocolate), chopped
• 1 tbsp amaretto
• 125g unsalted butter, softened
• 150g caster sugar
• 4 eggs, separated
• 50g fine almond meal
• 1 tsp cream of tartar
• 1/2 tsp almond extract
• 75g plain flour, sifted
For the topping
• 175g dark chocolate
(61% or 65% cacao dark chocolate)
• 1 cup pouring cream
• 1/2 cup plump dried apricots, roughly chopped, to serve
• ¼ cup flaked almonds, toasted, to serve
• Easter eggs of various sizes, unwrapped, to serve
Heat your oven to 180°C and grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
Melt the dark chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water with the amaretto and 25g of the butter, mixing to a smooth consistency. Set aside to cool slightly. Cream remaining butter and 100g of the sugar together, then add the egg yolks and beat until thick and pale. Add the cooled chocolate and almond extract and stir until completely combined.
Sift the almond meal twice, then stir into the chocolate mixture. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then add the cream of tartar. Continue beating, gradually adding the remaining sugar, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold a third of the whites into the chocolate mixture until well combined, then add the remainder of the whites and the flour and gently fold until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and allow to stand for a few minutes.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cake is set, then remove from the oven and tin. Cool on a wire rack until just warm to the touch (about 45 minutes).
To make the ganache topping, coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, watching carefully that it doesn't boil over. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate.
Whisk the cream and chocolate together until glossy. Pour the ganache glaze over the cake and scatter with the apricots and almonds. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then arrange the Easter eggs on top of the cake.