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Easter 2018

Happy Easter to you all

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and our family are coming to lunch and so today I’ve been making a few preparations, starting with a chocolate cake for our dessert.  I might push out the boat tomorrow, providing I get up early enough, and make a Pavlova, too, so there would then be a choice of desserts. Anyway, much depends on how I feel when I wake up these days!

Yesterday we shopped in Waitrose and I couldn’t help but admire the lovely displays of flowers and chocolates. I am well aware that these displays are primarily to stop us in our tracks so that not only do we admire them but buy items from them, but a lot of thought and preparation had obviously gone into these lovely displays, making the supermarket look very festive.

I can only assume that the little yellow buckets are for children for Easter Egg hunts, I don’t think they are for spring cleaning!  But all the yellow, pink and green looked really pretty and I lost no time in choosing some purple and yellow tulips and also their last bunch of white freesias (plus a bunch of double daffodils.)

Tulips, freesias, and double daffodils – what could be more beautiful at Easter (or any other time of the year)?  And some more double daffodils in the hall …

Much of this morning was spent in the kitchen. First I made tomato and courgette (zucchini) soup for lunch. This is a lovely easy and quick soup to make. I am sure I’ve mentioned it before, but for newer readers, the basic ingredients are a large white onion, 1 medium sized courgette (zucchini) and five or six large tomatoes.  Other ingredients are rapeseed (or olive) oil, tomato puree, dried basil, vegetable stock cubes (4) or bouillon, a teaspoon or two of sugar, two dessertspoons of crème fraiche, and boiling water.

If you start top left and then right, then the middle row, left and then right, and then the bottom row, left and then right, these photos show you the quick and easy profess.

Chop the onion and courgette and saute in a little oil (I use rapeseed oil)

Wash and then chop the tomatoes (with their skins on)

Add the tomatoes to the onion and courgette

Add boiling water to cover.  You can always add more water later if the soup is too thick, but bear in mind that tomatoes are mainly water so don’t overdo the water at this stage

Add the crumbled stock cubes (or bouillon) and dried Basil and tomato puree

Simmer for 20 minutes

Remove from heat, add the sugar and crème fraiche, and blend with a stick blender (or a jug blender if you prefer.)  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. You shouldn’t need extra salt as the stock cubes are quite salty, and pepper doesn’t really go very well with this soup, but if you like extra salt and pepper, then of course add some.

Serve with a dot of crème fraiche and torn up fresh basil leaves (if you have them.)

We had this for lunch with a baguette, olives, mature Cheddar cheese and St Agur creamy blue cheese.

Once the soup was simmering I made a chocolate sponge cake for Easter. This, again, is simple to make if you follow basic rules:  however many eggs you use –  I use four – weigh the eggs and then take that weight as your guide to the weights of the other ingredients, they should all weigh the same.  The four eggs today weighed 260 grams, so I adjusted that to 250 grams as they would be minus their shells in the mixture (obviously!)  Then I weighed out 250 grams each of golden caster sugar, soft margarine, and self-raising flour to which I added 2 rounded dessertspoons of cocoa.

First, have all the ingredients at room temperature. Set the oven at 160C.  Then, prepare two sandwich tins, greasing them and then putting cake liners in the bases.  Then weigh the ingredients as mentioned above.  Lightly beat the eggs, and into a bowl sieve the flour and cocoa powder together.  Next, in a large bowl,  ‘cream’ the margarine with the caster sugar, so that it’s nice and fluffy. I do this with my washed-and-spotlessly-clean hand, but most people would use a food processor or wooden spoon. I find a hand is the best way to make a cake, believe me.  This is how my mother taught me. Hands are the very best tools!

Then add the beaten egg gradually, so that the mixture doesn’t curdle, but if it does just add a little of the flour/cocoa and mixture before adding more egg.

When all the egg has been added, gently beat the mixture a little to get some air into it, and then gently fold in the flour/cocoa.  When you are satisfied with a fairly even distribution of flour/cocoa, divide the mixture between the two sandwich tins. I actually weigh the tins when full so that they are as even in weight as possible.  Spread the mixture or, as I do, give them a gentle shake so that the mixture reaches the sides of the tins.

Put the tins in the centre of the pre-heated oven (160C) and set the timer for 25 minutes.

When cooked test with a skewer and if it comes out clean, the cakes are ‘done’

Turn the cakes out onto pieces of kitchen paper and then onto a wire cooling rack (I use the kitchen paper t0 reverse the sandwiches onto the wire tray, flipping them over so you don’t have a wire pattern on top of the cakes.)

Now, wait until they are cold before sandwiching together with butter cream.  For butter cream I use a dollop of margarine, about 1 oz (whatever that is in grams) and I add sieved icing sugar and a little cocoa powder until I feel it is the right consistency to spread on two sponges (the underside of each) and then I sandwich them together.

If you want to have butter cream on the top, as a frosting, then just make more to start with.  But today I decided to melt dark chocolate and spread that as icing, and I decorated with some miniature chocolate eggs.

When melting chocolate over hot water, make sure you don’t get any water or steam into the chocolate as it melts as this will cause it to go cloudy.  I heat the chocolate it in a Pyrex basin over a small pan of simmering water, but the basin isn’t allowed to actually touch the water.  Pour the melted chocolate over the cake and spread as evenly as possible.

Had I given it more thought I would’ve bought a Cadbury’s flake and crumbled that and made a little ‘nest’ for the miniature eggs. Next time I will do this.

After the baking I was ready for a sit down and a read … plenty to choose from as the latest House & Garden arrived today, and I bought Period Living yesterday, and Homes & Antiques arrived just two days ago.

I also have five new books. A dear friend sent me a Dorothy Dunnett novel which she recommends, and I heard about the book The Salt Path on local News on TV.  This is the true story of a couple whose world was turned upside down within a week, as during that week they lost their business, their home and then the husband was told he had a terminal illness.  So what did they do? They decided to walk the full length of the south west coastal path, perhaps as therapy.  But no doubt I shall find out as I read this book.

I am currently read Rachel Hore’s latest novel and enjoying it very much; it is a dual narrative, one set in the present, the other in WW2.  I have also bought Catherine Law’s latest novel simply as I’ve enjoyed her previous books.

And so tomorrow is Easter Day with the family coming for lunch. I have been preparing the table, decorating it with flowers and small chocolate eggs, but I draw the line at Easter crackers.  Wherever you are, on your own, with family, or with friends, may I wish you a very Happy Easter.

Until next time.


About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Easter blessings to you dear Margaret. I love the fresh flowers you have gotten and the cake looks wonderful. Have a wonderful time with your dear family. And, thank you again for some great new book ideas. Pat 🐰🐣

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      And Happy Easter to you, Pat, and of course Lilly, your cat! I hope you like the book ideas, I have to admit I love the novels of Rachel Hore, and I especially enjoyed her novel of a few years ago, The Painter’s Daughter. One can never have too many books!
      I hope the chocolate cake is good. I never know until I cut into it! I’ve yet to have a chocolate cake disaster, but there’s always a first time!

  2. Happy Easter to you and yours, Margaret!

  3. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Hoping that you have a lovely day tomorrow with your family. The chocolate cake looks perfect for little grandson and adults alike! The Easter displays do look pretty and the flowers are lovely, especially the tulips.
    We will be having a quiet day.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Eloise, and the same to you, and enjoy your quiet day. I’m sure our little grandson will love some chocolate cake!

  4. Happy Easter Margaret! It’s midday on Easter Sunday here in Sydney, Australia. We’ve had a quiet morning, I’m about to get started on a slow cooked lamb roast for dinner tonight. Hope you have a lovely day with your family!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Happy Easter to you, too, Kellie, although it will be late in the evening now with you, it’s almost 9 am here in the UK on Easter Day. Hope the slow cooked lamb was tasty and that you’ve had a lovely day.

  5. Happy Easter to you and your family Margaret, hope you have a lovely day and enjoy that smashing looking cake!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Elaine, and Happy Easter to you and your family, too. The cake was scrumptious and I also made a Pavlova which was equally scrumptious. A wicked dessert as it’s stuffed with sugar and cream, but we only have it about once a year so not really too wicked!

  6. A very happy Easter to you, Mrs Powling:)
    Thank you for that lovely post, full of all good things, beautiful flower displays, delicious food and recipes too. All in your easy, writing style which is such a pleasure to read.
    I hope you have a very enjoyable day with your family!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      And also a Happy Easter to you, too, Kavitha. So glad you have enjoyed my latest post with the recipes – I shall have to post my Pavlova recipe soon, it’s a lovely dessert for summer and so easy to make. We had had a lovely time with our family coming to lunch and they’ve now gone home now and husband and I are going to put our feet up and have a snooze.

  7. Happy Easter day to you and your family. Your chocolate cake looks delicious. We were due to go out to lunch at our daughter’s but her husband has had a virus and we can’t risk my husband getting it so we’ve had to cancel. So guess who still gets to cook today? Yep. Never mind.

    At least it’s not raining today (so far) 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your son-in-law’s virus and no, you can’t risk your husband getting it, too. A shame, but better to be safe than sorry. Yes, I’ve guessed who will be cooking, no prizes for guessing, ha ha! Now, put your feet up and have a nice snooze. It’s an awful day here, rain and darkness, so we’re now going to rest and read the Sunday paper (with all its various sections.)

      • Still not raining here and I’ve dried a line of washing. I think the rain is due here overnight and tomorrow. Still cool though. I mean as in chilly not hip and groovy 😉

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I could hang the washing on the line, spray it with liquid detergent and let the rain do the rest! It’s truly awful here in Torbay, Alison. Oh, yes, cool as in chilly! Very cool here, too!

          • Raining now and due to keep raining through most of tomorrow I think 🙁

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            Yes, it’s raining hard here. We’ve not had a spring a cold and wet as this in years. But we are snug at home, and soon to be watching the new Agatha Christie drama on TV.

  8. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Cooking from scratch as you and I know Margaret, often means many hours spent in the kitchen, but it is always time well spent, you can’t beat home made food. Your cake looks divine. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Put your feet up you deserve it.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, cooking from scratch involves quite a lot of work, Marlene, but I enjoyed cooking for the family – at least I demonstrated (if only to myself) I can still do it! Husband prep’d the carrots and sprouts (he cuts the carrots into julienne strips) while I did the rest – roast chicken, small roast potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and bread sauce (our sons and my husband always want bread sauce), followed by raspberry Pavlova and/or chocolate cake, a rose to drink. It was all very nice, nothing left and I will boil the chicken carcase and that will be a base for soup tomorrow. It was all very tasty. I’m now going to make coffee and maybe even have a chocolate as I watch the rain pour down.

  9. 🌹🌷happy easter 🌹🌷to you Margaret,have a lovely day with your family.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      And Happy Easter to you, also, Margaret! We had a lovely meal with our family and I hope you have had a good day, too.

  10. Glad to hear that your Easter went well! May your spring flowers blossom.

    I’ve just put the Turkey breasts in the oven. Veg all prepped. Just waiting for my boys to come home.

    Assorted cakes for afters. Ice Cream and Cadbury’s Flakes if they want it. Oh, and the Walking Dead. Once you get past the gore, the plot is intriguing. What would you do when civilization breaks down.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Linda/WonderCollie, and I hope you have had a good Easter Day, too. Oh, turkey breasts, what a lovely meal! And cakes for afters, ice creams with Cadbury’s flakes but not the Walking Dead, I’ve never watched that, it doesn’t appeal at all, but we have just watched the first part of a new Agatha Christine drama on TV. It was totally OTT as these country house dramas often are, lots of long, meaningful looks between people, lots of sighs, lots of atmospheric cinematography and sweeping musical score, but it kept us watching nevertheless it used every dramatic cliché in the business!

  11. Your soup and cake look delicious. I admit that each time you add the full recipe for any your dishes, my salivary glands get involved. Such a weird thing ! Similar to when I see someone yawn, I am overcome with the urge to do same – even if it’s someone on tv or my cat ha ha.

    We just turned our clocks back an hour on Saturday evening (am Sunday morning to be precise) so I’ve had that discombobulated feeling for a couple of days. I’m not sleeping well at the moment and woke at 3am yesterday (the first day of the adjusted clock) and it was a very long day as a result. Insomnia affects us all at some stage or another and my stints of it usually last 2-4 weeks. I slept through the night last night and was delighted when I woke in the morning and realised. My pride was similar to a new parent who has just had their first full nights sleep after many months. Ha ha.

    My family and close friends all enjoyed the Russian Easter spread (Pashka) I made last week (using ricotta, sugar, butter, dried fruits, etc) and I admit to eating a little each day on hot cross buns. But the party is now over. Back to my (drab) gluten free diet as of tomorrow or I know I’ll pay for it. I hate being sensible !

    Your flowers look lovely. There was an article in one of our major papers (The Sydney Morning Herald’) where the writer said that it was poor form to wish people a happy Easter given the solemn origins of the event. Upon reflection I agreed to some extent even though I’m not religious. But then I thought its one of my favourite times of year as we all get extra days off work, school, uni, etc and many use this time to spend with their family, friends and/or enjoying leisure time; many of us eat ‘special’ foods which are restricted to this time of year (such as our pashka, hot cross buns, Easter eggs); in the northern hemisphere it is the start of spring; and so on. So for these reasons I say Happy Easter to you, your family and my fellow Margaret Powling Fan Club members xx

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Those are such lovely comments, Lara, I’m overwhelmed by your kindness is writing them and expressing your delight in my recipes and seeing the flowers in our home, even though they are simple, supermarket bunches (but I do try and buy those produced here in the UK and not flown in from abroad unless they are Fairtrade flowers.) We had a lovely time yesterday with our family and they enjoyed the lunch I made (with husband preparing the vegetables.) I’m sorry you are discombobulated with the clocks going back, it’s an awful feeling and I’m only just beginning to lose that feeling as our clocks went forward more than a week ago. It does take time to adjust, doesn’t it?
      Yes, perhaps Happy Easter isn’t the right thing to say, but Easter is the beginning of spring here and we associate it just as much with new life as we do with the Christian festival. I’m not religious either, but I love spring, it’s my very favourite season. Again, thank you so much for your good wishes.

  12. Oh the other reasons it’s one of my favourite times of year is because there are no presents involved (unlike Christmas) and the weather starts to cool down – although not necessarily this year as I heard the radio announcer say it was 21 deg C and 95% humidity and realised why I was feeling red-faced and frizzy 😩

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, that’s a good point, no presents involved. Our daughter in law told us yesterday she had to explain to our grandson that Easter wasn’t like Christmas, he would have an Easter egg and perhaps just one small present (a book) because so much fuss is now being made of Easter, with Easter ‘trees’, decorated eggs, bunting with rabbits and so forth, and even crackers, that he thought it was like Christmas! And as your weather cools down, so ours begins to warm up, although with the rain we still have – it’s rained for several days now – it’s hard even to imagine warm weather!

  13. What a lovely looking (and sounding!) cake. I’m sitting here remembering – that I didn’t have an Easter egg!!!! Nor chocolate bunny! And suddenly….reading this post…. I wish that I had had them for Easter, instead of being “good” and not having any.

    Can’t wait to see the new Agatha Christie drama.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, Ratnamurti, no Easter egg or chocolate bunny! I wonder if they have any left in the shops? You should nip out and get perhaps a discounted one, now that Easter Day is over, and indulge yourself, ha ha!
      We watched the Agatha Christie – it held our attention but oh, I do wish Bill Nighy would speak up a bit. He is always the same, sort-of whispers his lines with the constantly puzzled look he wears. I have to put the subtitles on for any drama with him in it. Last night’s was the first episode, two more to go.

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