Easter 2016

Autumn in Central Otago is one of my most favourite times of the year. The Clutha River winds its way through the region, accompanied by lines of tall poplar trees that are slowly shedding their cloaks of green for capes of red and orange. It’s a stunning time of year to visit, and we are so very lucky to have a place to stay that is just over three hour’s drive from Dunedin.

We spent Easter in Wanaka, and it was unseasonably warm (hot, even), but predictably beautiful. We went with no plans, and spending a relaxed few days with my boys and my parents was just what my soul required. I didn’t check the internet once, we paid little heed to the clock, and we had a blast.

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My parents very kindly looked after the boys one morning when the hubs and I decided to climb Roy’s Peak, a 16km round trip just out of Wanaka. We started our climb around 7.30am, claimed the peak before 10am, and enjoyed a morning tea of fruit and cold sausages looking out over a bed of thick clouds. Sadly, this meant the views were obscured from three-quarters of the way up, but under the cloud bank, the views were breathtaking. As we descended, we met hundreds of others beginning their climbs, and even though we’d missed the views, we had to admit that having the peak to ourselves for a while was a good trade-off.

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We celebrated Tiny’s 6th birthday on Easter Monday, with playground visits, a fish-and-chip dinner, and a chocolate sponge made by my mum. He thought it was pretty special having a holiday on his birthday, and my parents thought it was pretty special spending the whole day with their grandson on his birthday.

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Recipe: Easter Orange Cake

This deliciously-light, zesty cake is a nice alternative for Easter baking if, like me, you don’t like hot cross buns (I can’t be the only one, right? Right??). It is as simple as a cake recipe can be, and unusual in that the flour is mixed in with everything else right from the start. The batter is quite thick, but the resulting cake is surprisingly light.

Tall and I really liked the tangy icing, but it was a bit tart for the little ones. Next Easter, I think I’ll make a slightly less lemony topping, simply so I don’t end up eating half a cake!

Easter Orange CakeEaster Orange Cake – makes one 20cm square cake

150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
3 eggs
grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
Icing
grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon (about 2T juice)
175g icing sugar, sifted
Easter decorations (such as mini eggs and chocolate bunnies)

Preheat oven to 180degC. Grease and line the base of a 20cm square cake tin.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, flour and eggs until light and creamy. Stir in the orange zest and juice.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and level the top.

Bake for around 30 minutes, or until risen and golden, and firm to touch.

Cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes; remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the icing, beat all ingredients together to make a smooth, runny icing. Drizzle over the cake and once partly-set, decorate with Easter treats.

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Recipe: Tana Ramsay – Market Kitchen Cookbook (2010)