Chocolate nests are a staple recipe for Easter time, and something I’m sure everyone can remember making (or eating!) when they were little. I remember first making chocolate nests when I was about six, with my mum and sister, and trying my best to eat all the mini eggs before they could make it as far as the actual nests! So when I was thinking about what Easter presents I could make for my friends this year, I decided to go for a new take on this classic, and make giant chocolate nests, with lots of eggs inside, and a little sparkle of glitter.
You can use whatever chocolate you want for these nests, I went for a mix of milk and dark, but anything would work, even chocolate orange. Make sure you crush your shredded wheat quite finely, as you want it to all get evenly coated in the chocolate mixture. They make perfect presents, simply wrap in tissue paper or cellophane and tie with an Eastery ribbon and you’re done!
Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without Hot Cross buns, and they are the perfect thing to bake on Easter Saturday: leave them to prove during the day, bake them in the evening, and they’ll be ready for Easter Sunday breakfast! When I was little I used to call them ‘hot scone buns’, but now I think they’re much better than scones – especially flavoured with orange and cinnamon and studded with raisins and citrus peel like these ones.
These are best eaten freshly baked from the oven, but are just as good up to 3 days after, lightly toasted and spread with butter.
For the buns:
- 300ml milk
- 50g butter
- 500g strong bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 200g mix of raisins, sultanas and mixed peel
- zest 1 orange
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cross
- 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (see Tip, below) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
- Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
- With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
- Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
- Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses (see Tip below). Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
- Bubble the honey and sugar in a saucepan until syrupy, then brush over the buns to glaze.
Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood