Recipes: Excellent Easter

Hot cross apple scones

Quicker to make than a yeasted hot cross bun but with all of the fruit and spice, these are just the thing for Easter tea.

Preparation time:20 minutes + cooling

Cooking time:12 minutes

Makes: 16


400g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp ground mixed spice
85g light brown muscovado sugar
2 small Braeburn apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
100g Waitrose Sweet & Tangy Fruit Mix (dried)
Zest 1 orange and 1 tbsp juice
200ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg, beaten 

For the crosses and to decorate:
85g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp golden syrup


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7 and heat a baking sheet in the top third of the oven. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl with ½ tsp salt. Rub in the butter until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the spice, sugar, apples, dried fruit and orange zest.

2. Warm the milk to room temperature then stir in the orange juice and vanilla plus 2 tbsp beaten egg. Combine this mixture with the dry ingredients to make a rough, sticky dough — stirring quickly with a round-bladed knife as you pour will keep the scones light. 

3. Flour a clean work surface, tip the dough onto it then flour the dough and your hands. Gently knead a few times until a little smoother, then pat into a round about 3cm thick. Dust with more flour, then stamp out 6cm rounds using a straight-sided cutter. Pat together the leftovers and repeat to make 16 scones. 

4. To make the crosses, stir 6–7 tbsp cold water into the plain flour to make a smooth paste. This will loosen as it sits, so don’t be tempted to add too much water. Spoon into a food bag or disposable piping bag and snip off the end at about 5mm. 

5. Sprinkle the hot baking sheet with flour, then add the scones. Pipe crosses over the tops (see Cook's Tip below) then bake for 12 minutes or until risen, golden and they sound hollow when tapped underneath. Stir 1 tsp boiling water into the golden syrup to make a glaze, then brush over the scones and leave to cool on a wire rack.


The quickest way to get all of the scones piped with crosses is to line them up on the baking tray, pipe down then across all the rows. If any of the paste stays joined up between some of the scones, just snip it with kitchen scissors.

Pretty feather-iced biscuits

The feather icing is an easy technique that adds a cute touch. 

Preparation time:1 hour + 30 minutes chilling

Cooking time:10 minutes to 12 minutes

Total time:1 hour 40 minutes-1 hour 42 minutes 

Serves: 24


100g unsalted butter, softened
100g Waitrose Light Brown Fairtrade Muscovado Sugar
1 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour

For the topping
250g Royal icing sugar
Pink, blue, yellow food colouring 


1. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, then add the flour. Bring the mixture together, then knead lightly and form it into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Roll out half the dough at a time on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a plain 7cm round cookie cutter, cut out 24 rounds and transfer them to the baking sheets. Bake for 10–12 minutes until pale golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

3. Mix the icing sugar with 3 tbsp water to make a smooth icing. Put 2–3 tbsp of the icing into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle. Divide the rest between three bowls. Add a little food colouring separately to each bowl to make up the 3 pastel colours.

4. Spread 8 of the biscuits with blue icing. Pipe 5 lines of white icing at equal distances apart, then drag the tip of a cocktail stick across the white icing in alternate directions. Repeat with the pink and yellow icing on the remaining biscuits. Leave aside until the icing is set.

Cook’s tipThe icing should be wet to get the best feathered effect. If it is drying too quickly, ice one or two biscuits at a time.

Traditional Simnel cake

This traditional simnel cake is spicy, moist and fruity, with delicious marzipan running through the centre and over the top.


Preparation time:30 minutes, plus soaking and cooling

Cooking time:135 minutes to 150 minutes

Total time:2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours 

Serves: 16


500g bag Waitrose Mixed Dried Fruits
150 g sultanas
5 tbsp orange-flavoured liqueur
175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
175g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
4 pieces stem ginger from a jar, coarsely grated, plus 1 tbsp of the syrup
3 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground mixed spice
500g Cook's Ingredients White Marzipan
Icing sugar, for dusting


  1. Mix all the dried fruits in a bowl with the liqueur and leave to stand for 1 hour. Grease and line an 18cm cake tin with non-stick baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2.
  2. Put the butter, sugar and grated ginger in a large bowl and beat well until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Stir in the flour and spices, then the dried fruit with any juices left in the bowl. Mix well.
  3. Using about a quarter of the marzipan, make 11 oval balls, about the size of a mini egg, and set aside. Shape half of the remaining marzipan into a ball and roll out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar to an 18cm circle. Spoon half the cake mixture into the tin and spread in an even layer. Lay the paste over the cake mixture, pressing it down gently. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and spread with the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for about 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
  5. Transfer the cooled cake to a baking sheet and brush the top with the ginger syrup. Roll out the remaining marzipan as above and press down onto the top of the cake. Pinch decoratively around the edges. Arrange the marzipan balls on top, sticking them with a little extra syrup from the jar. Heat the surface of the cake under a moderate grill for 1-2 minutes, watching closely, until the marzipan starts to toast. If one area turns too dark, cover it with foil.
  6. Transfer to a plate or cake board and dust lightly with extra caster sugar. Or to wrap, cut a large circle of clear Cellophane. Position the cake plate over the centre and bring the sides of the Cellophane up over the cake. Squeeze the edges together and secure with ribbon. Alternatively, put the cake, on its board or plate, in a small cake box (available from cake decorating shops), or in a gift box.

Lemon & pistachio Easter cake

Preparation time: 25 minutes + cooling

Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Total time: 60-65 minutes + cooling

Serves: 10



For the marzipan:

100g Love Life Pistachios

50g ground almonds

75g Billington’s 

Golden Caster Sugar

75g icing sugar

1 medium essential Waitrose egg white, lightly beaten


For the cake:

175g butter, softened

175g Billington's Golden Caster Sugar

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 3 tbsp juice

3 medium essential Waitrose Free Range Eggs

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder


For the butter icing:

75g butter, softened

75g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp lemon juice

Chopped pistachios, to decorate 



1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease and base line  2x20cm sandwich tins. To make the marzipan, put the pistachios in a food processor and blend until finely ground. Add the almonds, caster sugar, icing sugar and the egg white and blend to a paste.


2. For the cake, put the butter, sugar, lemon zest, eggs, flour and baking powder in a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric whisk until pale and creamy. Beat in the lemon juice and spoon a quarter of the mixture into each of the tins. Level the surface. 


3. Halve the pistachio marzipan and roll out each on a surface dusted with icing sugar until slightly smaller than the tins. Press gently over the sponge filling and cover with the remaining mixture. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until risen and just firm to the touch.


4. Loosen the edges of the cakes with a knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.


5. For the icing, beat the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice and use to sandwich the cakes together on a serving plate. Dust the top lightly with icing sugar and scatter with chopped pistachios to decorate.


Cook's tip


Try swapping the butter icing for softly whipped cream swirled with a spoonful of lemon curd. Keep chilled and eat on the same day.

Lemon simnel cupcakes



Preparation time:20 minutes

Cooking time:20 minutes + cooling

Total time:40 minutes + cooling

Makes: 12


500g pack Waitrose Cooks' Homebaking Golden Marzipan
150g Tate + Lyle Light Muscovado Sugar 
150g essential Waitrose Unsalted Dairy Butter, at room temperature
2 large Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Eggs 
150g self-raising flour 
125g essential Waitrose Mixed Fruit
2 lemons, both zested and juice of 1
Icing sugar to dust 
2 tbsp apricot jam  


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. Cut off an 80g piece of marzipan, then set aside the larger piece for later. Cut the smaller piece into 12 equal chunks.

2. Place the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Fold in the flour along with the mixed fruit, lemon juice and half the zest. Add a spoonful of mixture to each case, place a chunk of marzipan in the centre, then top each evenly with the rest of the mixture. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until risen and golden, then allow to cool on a wire rack.

3. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on the work surface and roll out the remaining marzipan. Using a small cookie cutter (about 6cm) cut out 12 circles, saving the leftover marzipan.

4. To decorate the cupcakes, take off the paper cases. Brush on a little apricot jam then place on the circles of marzipan. Shape the leftover marzipan into 12 balls, then place one in the centre of each cupcake, using some jam to help secure if necessary. Place them on a baking tray and pop under a hot grill for 1 minute until the marzipan is lightly browned. Finish with a small sprinkling of lemon zest. 

Pistachio, lemon & rose drizzle cake with rose cream



Preparation time:20 minutes

Cooking time:40-45 minutes

Total time60-65 minutes

Serves: 8


175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 large Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Eggs
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp Cooks’ Ingredients Rose Petals, plus extra to garnish
50g pistachio nuts, chopped, plus extra to garnish

For the lemon drizzle 
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp caster sugar 
1 tsp Cooks’ Ingredients Rose Petals
½ tsp rose water

For the rose cream 
500ml tub crème fraîche
3 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp rose water


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease and base line a 900g loaf tin.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.

3. Mix together the flour and rose petals. Reserve 1 tbsp chopped pistachios and add the rest to the flour, then stir into the creamed mixture. Add the lemon juice and gently mix to combine.

4. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

5. While the cake is baking, make the drizzle. Heat the lemon juice, sugar, rose petals, rose water and remaining pistachios until the sugar has dissolved, then allow to cool slightly.

6. Prick the hot cake with a skewer and pour the lemon drizzle over. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before removing. Garnish with 
the remaining lemon zest, extra chopped pistachios and a scattering of rose petals.

7. Whisk the crème fraîche with the honey and rose water until thickened, and serve with the cake.

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