I love the wintertime… dark evenings, woolly hats and scarfs, icy cold winds… an excuse to get into fluffy socks and pyjamas after work and snuggle up in front of a blazing fire with the small one. Alas… there comes a time when I need to dust myself off and get in synch with the seasons.
Spring has been edging itself in for a while now, despite the stubborn snow flurry’s lingering about. But there’s a definite bounce in our step. The days are getting longer and brighter… daffodils are blooming… Nature’s in full throttle and I’m starting to feel fresher and hopefully a little lighter!
Growing up, the Mam always encouraged myself, the little brother and two sisters – one younger, one older – to give up chocolate and sweets for Lent. This was a time for fasting and reflection she would say, so we would fill ourselves with as much chocolate as we were allowed in the run up to Ash Wednesday.
And, it was hard… Six weeks can seem like an eternity to small children, admiring cluttered shop windows filled with multi coloured, foil wrapped eggs and television adverts that only ever seemed to advertise chocolate during this time.
Many years later I still religiously give up chocolate and sweets. Habit? Maybe, but if I’m truly honest it is mostly for selfish reasons – in the hope that I will shed a few pounds during these forty days.
As of yet, I haven’t enforced this same tradition on my small one and the truth being known, probably never will. For me it was a different time and a tradition that lies within my childhood.
And also with me not eating chocolate during this period of the fast, I needed my small one to be free to taste, critique – he is very very honest – and devour the blog bakes over the past few weeks, like these pretty chocolate decorated lemon and poppy seed cakes. A perfect picture of springtime.
Enjoy and Happy Easter.
Lemon and poppy seed cakes
Makes 20 • Baking time: Approx 45 minutes • Adapted from Feel Good Food Magazine
200g plain flour
200g castor sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 medium egg
For the topping
250g white cooking chocolate
Red food colouring
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4/160c (fan). Grease and line an 20cm/8″ square baking tin.
2. Sift the flour, castor sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Add the poppy seeds and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Mix the egg, buttermilk, lemon juice and zest together and add to the flour mixture. Stir well to combine.
4. Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for 45 minutes. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
5. When cool slice the edges off each side of the cake and cut into 20 pieces.
6. For the topping: melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Separate the melted chocolate into two jugs and add a little red food colouring to one to create your desired shade of pink.
7. Gently pour the melted chocolate over each cake allowing it to dribble down the sides. To finish stick an edible flower on top.