Easter baking recipes: Stone fruit simnel cake and chocolate carrot brownie bar

Easter baking: Dan Lepard's simnel cake recipe

Slim, elegant and intense with flavour, this is more like a tart than a true cake.

Stone fruit simnel cake

 Slim, elegant and intense with flavour, more like a tart than a true cake and perfect for an easy Easter dessert or an afternoon tea snackeroo.

For me, you can't do better than a scoop of creme fraiche on the side but if vanilla ice-cream is your thing, then go for it. This keeps well for a few days in an airtight tin.

Dan Lepard's stonefruit simnel cake.
Dan Lepard's stonefruit simnel cake. Photo: William Meppem

melted butter and flour for the tin

100g unsalted butter, softened

50g cream cheese

120g castor sugar

2 eggs, 60g each

50g ground almonds


50g sherry (or orange juice)

150g currants or chopped dried apricots

100g chopped crystallised or glace ginger

120g plain white flour

½ tsp baking powder

11 ripe or tinned small apricot, plum or peach halves

flaked almonds for decoration

about 60g marzipan

1. Brush the inside of a 23-centimetre fluted tart tin with melted butter, and dust evenly with flour.

2. Beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar together in a mixing bowl until smooth, then beat in the eggs.

3. Stir in the ground almonds, sherry, currants and ginger evenly, stir in the flour and baking powder then spoon this mixture into the tin and spread across the base.

4. Press 11 drained apricot halves, cut-side upwards, around the mixture, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake at 160C (fan-forced) for about 40 minutes.

5. Meanwhile roll out 11 tiny balls of marzipan about five grams each. Remove the cake from the oven, place a ball of marzipan in each apricot and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer until golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Serves 6-8

Chocolate carrot brownie bar

To satisfy your inner Easter bunny, think of the eleven macadamias as representing either apostles or cricketers. The mixture of milk and dark chocolate is a nifty trick from Tasmanian chef Alistair Wise from Sweet Envy in Hobart, that gives the best marriage of milk chocolate's comfort and creaminess, and dark chocolate's cocoa intensity.

Chocolate carrot brownie bar.

Chocolate carrot brownie bar. Photo: William Meppem

80g unsalted butter, softened

160g castor sugar

1 egg, plus one extra yolk

100g milk chocolate

100g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa) 

40ml hot espresso-strength coffee

10ml brandy or milk

50g finely grated carrot

110g plain white flour

½ tsp baking powder

11 macadamia nuts, shelled

1. Brush the inside of a 25-centimetre by 10-centimetre long fluted tart tin with melted butter and dust evenly with flour.

2. Whisk the butter and sugar until smooth and light with an electric beater, then whisk in the egg and yolk on high speed until light and pale.

3. Melt the chocolates together, stir them through the butter mixture evenly with the coffee and brandy.

4. Stir in the carrot, flour and baking powder then spoon into the prepared tin evenly. Dot with the macadamia nuts, then bake at 160C fan-forced for 25 minutes. Leave until cold before cutting into slices.

Serves 4-6