Done and dusted: 5 of the sweetest spring baking recipes

Your spring baking repertoire sorted, plus on-the-day inspo for a mum’s sweet treat…

Spiced carrot and nut cake with rose petals

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

MAKES 1 X 20CM CAKE

unsalted butter for the tin
120ml groundnut or vegetable oil
150g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs separated
2 tbsp milk
90g coarsely grated raw carrot
60g walnuts chopped quite finely
50g raisins
60g fine polenta (or grind coarse polenta in an electric coffee mill)
60g ground almonds
1½ rounded tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon

TO FINISH
icing sugar
crushed dried rose petals (optional)
full-fat Greek yoghurt dusted with a pinch of cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Butter a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin about 7cm deep. Whisk the oil and caster sugar in a large bowl, then whisk in the egg yolks and milk, and fold in the carrot, nuts and raisins. Combine the polenta and ground almonds in a medium bowl, then sift over and stir in the baking powder and the spices. Mix this into the carrot mixture.
2. Whisk the egg whites in another bowl until stiff, fold in two goes into the cake mixture and transfer to the buttered tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes until shrinking from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the top edge of the cake, which will be quite delicate, and leave it to cool.
3. Dust the cake with icing sugar and remove the collar. Finish with a scattering of crushed dried rose petals if wished. It will keep for several days loosely covered with clingfilm, in which case add the finishes close to the time of serving.

SERVING IDEA
I also like this with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt dusted with a pinch of cinnamon and extra rose petals.

Back-to-basics lemon madeira

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

MAKES 1 X 22CM LOAF

175g unsalted butter diced plus extra for the tin
175g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 3 tbsp lemon juice
3 medium eggs
200g plain flour
2 heaped tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE TOP
a little warmed lemon curd for brushing
fruit powder (for example freeze-dried raspberry) or sugar sand for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3. Butter a loaf tin about 22cm long (about 1.2 litre capacity) and line the base with baking paper.
2. Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor, then add the eggs one at a time. Don’t worry if the mixture appears curdled at this point. Sift together and add the flour and baking powder, then the ground almonds and incorporate the lemon juice and vanilla.
3. Transfer to the prepared tin, smooth the surface and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted at the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and leave to stand for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and peel off the baking paper. Place the right way up and leave to cool.
4. Brush the top with warmed lemon curd and sprinkle with fruit powder or sugar sand before serving.

Raspberry chocolate cheesecake

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

SERVES 6

FOR THE BASE
120g ground almonds
30g buckwheat flour
1 heaped tsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp stevia sweetener (for example Sukrin)
75g lightly salted butter chilled and diced
1 medium egg separated

FOR THE CHEESECAKE
100g dark chocolate (about 70 per cent
cocoa) broken into pieces
100g coconut yoghurt
300g quark
1 tsp golden caster sugar
3 tsp stevia sweetener (for example Sukrin) or to taste
2 gelatine leaves cut into broad strips

FOR THE TOP
200g raspberries
icing sugar for dusting

1. Have ready a nonstick loose-bottomed cake tin measuring about 23cm x 7cm (or a similar tart tin). Whiz the ground almonds, flour, sugar, stevia and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and give the mixture another whiz, then add just a teaspoon of the egg white (discarding the remainder) to bring the crumbs together into a sticky paste.
2. Press this on to the base of the tart tin, laying a sheet of clingfilm over the top and using your fingers to spread it. Prick with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 with a baking sheet inside. Remove the clingfilm and place the tart tin on the hot sheet. Bake the base for 14-17 minutes or until lightly coloured, turning it around halfway through to ensure it cooks evenly. Leave to cool.
4. For the cheesecake, gently melt the chocolate in a large bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water. Whisk in the coconut yoghurt and then the quark in three goes, then stir in the sugar and add stevia to taste. Place the gelatine in a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 5 minutes, then drain. Pour a couple of tablespoons of boiling water over the gelatine and stir to melt.
5. Whisk 3 tablespoons of the chocolate cream into the gelatine, one at a time, then beat this into the remainder until thoroughly blended. Spread this over the base and chill for several hours to set. It will keep well for a couple of days, loosely covered with clingfilm.
6. Just before serving, scatter the raspberries in a single layer over the top (halve a few of them if wished) and lightly dust with icing sugar.

COOK’S NOTE
This luxurious dessert has a fraction of the sugar of a more standard version, but you would never know (plus the base is gluten-free).

Rose and lime shortbread

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

MAKES 12 FINGERS

150g unsalted butter (or goat’s butter) chilled and diced plus extra for the tin
75g golden caster sugar
⅓ tsp rose extract or to taste
150g plain flour sifted
75g semolina
finely grated zest of 2 limes
pinch of finely chopped dried rose petals and icing sugar to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3. Butter a 23cm square brownie tin (or similar) and line the base and sides with baking paper, snipping a square from each corner so the sides sit flat.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and rose extract in a large bowl using an electric whisk, then add the flour, semolina and lime zest and whisk until the mixture is crumbly. Press this into the lined tin, without totally compressing, to leave the texture quite crumbly, and bake for 30-35 minutes until pale gold.
3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Scatter over a few finely chopped rose petals and dust with icing sugar, then cut into fingers.

Mini passionfruit and berry babas

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

MAKES 8

110g icing sugar sifted
40g ground almonds
100g egg whites (from 2-3 medium eggs)
2 tsp runny honey
60g unsalted butter melted and cooled
½ tsp vanilla extract
50g flour sifted
⅓ tsp baking powder sifted

TO BAKE AND FILL
butter and flour for the moulds
125ml whipping cream whisked
100g berries of your choice
seeds from 2-4 passionfruit depending on size
icing sugar for dusting (or combine 1 tsp icing sugar with 1 tsp freeze-dried raspberry or other fruit powder)

1. Have ready 8 mini savarin moulds about 9cm across or similar (see note on Kitchen Kit, below) and a baking sheet to sit them on.
2. Combine the icing sugar and ground almonds in a large bowl, add the egg whites and whisk to blend, then add the honey, butter and vanilla, followed by the flour and baking powder and combine. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Generously butter the moulds and dust with flour, tapping each one over a bowl to remove excess. Fill the moulds by half, arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to stand for a few minutes and then run a knife around the outside a couple of times to loosen the cakes and ease out of the mould, inverting them
on to a wire rack to cool.
4. To serve, fill the centre with whipped cream and your choice of berries. Drizzle over some passionfruit and dust with icing sugar (include some freeze-dried fruit powder if wished). These can be made a day in advance and chilled loosely covered, in which case dust them shortly before serving.

SERVING IDEA
These make a luxurious addition to afternoon tea as well as a chic pudding.

KITCHEN KIT
Mini savarin moulds (sometimes called rum baba tins or cake tins) can be found at baking suppliers and online. Try souschef.co.uk; nisbets.co.uk; amazon.co.uk.

Recipes by Annie Bell