Friday, 3 April 2015


Let’s face it. It wouldn't be Easter if we didn't indulge in a treat (or five). This year, however, we’re replacing the chocolate in favour of some tasty treats from the 1940s and 50s. While baking from older recipes can be an adventure in trial and error (or just incredibly frustrating), the fact that they’re all home-made is pretty satisfying in itself. The simplest of the three, the Easter biscuit recipe, dates back to the 40s and is perfect for beginners. Though the Sunshine Cake (1946) is slightly more complex, we think it’s the perfect way to brighten up the gloomy Bank Holiday weather. And, lastly, we couldn't talk about Easter treats without including this classic hot cross bun recipe from the 50s. There’s quite a bit (meaning a good hour and a half’s worth) of waiting in this final one, however, so hop to it!

Easter Biscuits
You will need: 
1 oz. margarine
1 oz. castor sugar
1 oz. plain flour, sieved
1 oz. self-raising flour, sieved
A pinch of salt
A tablespoon of water
2 oz. currants

1. Cream the margarine and sugar together until soft and white. Stir in the flour and salt, and add the water, seeing that the mixture is just the right texture for rolling. Add the fruit into the mixture.

2. Roll out thinly. Cut the mixture into rounds.

3. Place on greased tins, and bake in a moderately hot oven (375 F) for 10 to 15 minutes, until firm and a pale golden-brown colour. When half cooked, sprinkle with castor sugar. Cool on a rack.

Sunshine Cake
You will need:
1 cup sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks, beaten
7 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon any desired flavouring

1. Sift together the flour and salt.

2. Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon coloured. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the mixture is stiff, but not dry. Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture holds in soft peaks. Fold in the beaten egg yolks and flavouring. Fold in the flour gently to avoid breaking air cells in the egg mixture.

3. Pour the mixture into an ungreased ten-inch tube pan and bake in a moderate oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until done.

4. Remove from the oven and invert for one hour. When cool, frost or sprinkle the cake with sifted sugar.

Hot Cross Buns
You will need:
75 ml granulated sugar
60 ml warm water 
1 tablespoon traditional active dry yeast
900 ml flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
125 ml melted butter
175 ml whole milk, at room temperature
1 egg, beaten
125 ml currants
Beaten egg white

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the warm water. Add yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes, or until foamy.

2. Mix the remaining sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the melted butter, milk and egg. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Stir in the currants.

3. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn until greased all over. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk (this will take about one hour).

4. Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a 12 inch log, Divide this length-wise into two, and cut each piece into 12 pieces. Form into 24 balls and place on greased baking sheets. Brush with the beaten egg white, then cover with clean tea towel. Let the mixture rise for about 30 minutes.

5. Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.

Words by Anam Rahim