Happy Easter, everyone! It wouldn’t be Easter Sunday without some sort of seasonal showstopper for pudding or afternoon tea. By then you might never want to see an Easter egg ever again, so this very lemony cake with zesty sponge, curd filling and lemon icing makes for a light and refreshing alternative to a chocolatey treat. The cake is made using the all-in-one method (adapted from my staple Mary Berry recipe) and the meringue chicks (via Cupcake Jemma) make a cute, seasonally appropriate decoration – I couldn’t resist. You could even give the chicks as a wee Easter gift to your loved ones; they’re fairly simple to whip up but look very effective. To make the sponge, you will need:
200g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
Zest of two lemons (save the juice for the icing and curd!)
Preheat the oven to 200C/ Fan 180C/ Gas 6. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer (or you could mix the batter by hand with lots of elbow grease).
Mix until the batter is well combined and smooth – about two minutes.
Divide the mixture into two 20cm greased and lined cake tins and bake for around 22 minutes, or until golden on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. While the cakes are cooling, turn the oven down to Fan 100C to make the meringues. The basic ratio is twice as much sugar to egg white – I used 75g egg white, so 150C caster sugar:
Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer. Start beating on a slow speed until large bubbles form – then increase the speed gradually to high.
Beat until you have stiff peaks, then add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time.
Continue beating until very smooth and glossy, and the grains of sugar have disappeared.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper held in place with some of the meringue mixture so it doesn’t blow around in the fan oven. Fit a piping bag (I use disposable ones) with a round nozzle and fill with the meringue mixture.
Hold the piping bag vertically and, keeping it as straight as you can about an inch from the tray, pipe wee meringue ‘kisses’.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the meringues come away from the tray easily.
Once they’ve cooled, you can turn them into chicks! You can do this however you want, colouring white chocolate or icing and piping or just using food colouring and something pointy. It’s simple to achieve a chick appearance with a triangle for the beak and dots for eyes, although you do need a steady hand – a few of my chicks were a wee bit cross-eyed!
Lastly, make the lemon buttercream (recipe also via Cupcake Jemma): you’ll need 100g butter, 225g icing sugar (sifted) and 2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice.
Beat the butter in a stand mixer until soft and pale. Add the icing sugar in two halves, beating slowly at first and then faster until smooth and light.
Add the lemon juice and continue beating for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
Fill the cake with a layer of buttercream (half the mix) and a few spoons of lemon curd – you can find the recipe for homemade curd via Rachel Khoo here – spreading it out to about a centimetre away from the edge of the cake (when you add the lid the filling will spread out).
Top with the rest of the buttercream, smoothing the surface into a neat swirl.
Decorate the top with a few meringue chicks, and keep the rest back so you can pop one on each slice or give them as a gift (or you could just eat them yourself).
This light sponge balances citrus and sweet and is perfect sliced with a cuppa for a seasonally appropriate afternoon tea.
Do you prefer lemon or chocolate in your Easter makes? What are you baking this Easter Weekend?