Spring BakesApril 12, 2023
Lighter, brighter days call for fresh flavours and something sweet to welcome the new season. When weekends offer the perfect opportunity to create new cakes and bakes, why not try our deliciously fruity and indulgent springtime recipes? Read on to discover how to make them.
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Carrot and orange cupcakes
Match those bright, sunny days with a fresh, zingy bake. Ideal for spring celebrations, these carrot and orange cupcakes are packed with zesty, citrusy flavours and a hint of warming spice. Serve at family gatherings and bank holiday weekends.
Takes 3 hrs 15 mins, plus 2.5 hrs cooling time
For the decoration
250g caster sugar
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
1 orange, sliced into 3mm-thick rounds
For the cupcakes
250ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
310g self-raising flour
150g light brown sugar
50g dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
225g grated carrot (approx 3 carrots)
100g walnuts, roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate
For the frosting
175g butter, softened
125g full-fat soft cheese
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar
1 Start by making the carrot curls and candied orange for decoration. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 120˚C. Place the caster sugar in a saucepan with 250ml water and bring to the boil over a medium to high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the carrot ribbons and orange slices. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Remove them with a slotted spoon and, when cool enough to handle, lay the carrot ribbons flat on one of the trays and the orange slices on the other. Bake for 40 mins.
2 Remove the carrot ribbons and, when cool enough to handle, wrap around wooden utensil handles or skewers. Set aside to dry out and cool completely, around 30 mins. Meanwhile, leave the orange slices in the oven for a further 1 hr 20 mins until dehydrated but still flexible. Transfer the baking tray to a cooling rack to cool completely.
3 To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases. Whisk together the sunflower oil, eggs and orange zest.
4 Mix the flour, sugars, mixed spice and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the oil and egg mixture, and fold until just combined. Gently fold in the grated carrot and chopped walnuts.
5 Divide the mixture between the muffin cases. Bake for 20-25 mins until an inserted cocktail stick or skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
6 To make the frosting, place the butter in a bowl. Whisk for 30 seconds using a handheld electric whisk, then add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Stir in the icing sugar, then whisk until smooth and creamy. Fill a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle with the cream-cheese frosting. Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake.
7 Cut the candied orange slices in half and use to decorate the cupcakes along with the carrot curls. Finely chop the extra walnuts and scatter over the top of the cupcakes.
Luscious lemon drizzle squares
Light, with a lovely sweet crunchy top, these luscious lemon drizzle squares are the perfect way to mark the start of a new season. Enjoy with a cup of your favourite tea and share with friends and family.
Takes 55 mins, plus 2 hrs cooling time
For the sponge
185g butter, softened
185g caster sugar
3 large eggs
185g self-raising flour
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
6 tbsp lemon juice
Finely pared zest of 1 lemon, to decorate
Thyme sprigs, to decorate (optional)
For the topping
4 tbsp lemon juice
8 tbsp caster sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 20cm square loose-bottomed tin. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, then fold in the lemon zest and juice until combined.
2 Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 30-35 mins until an inserted cocktail stick or skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins.
3 To make the topping, mix together the lemon juice and half of the caster sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Prick the cake all over using a cocktail stick. Drizzle over the lemon topping, then sprinkle over the remaining caster sugar. Leave to cool completely, then remove from the tin. Trim the sides with a sharp, serrated knife, then cut into 16 equal squares. Scatter over the finely pared zest and the thyme sprigs (if using), to decorate.