Jan Kohler, author of Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes, tells us about how she celebrates Easter, and shares some of her favourite sugary Easter recipes with us...Just what the bunny ordered...

With the cooling of South Africa’s sweltering summer days comes the promise of Easter – a season of family and school holidays and sharing togetherness. Speaking of the upcoming season, I always look forward to this time as I cling to the last of the warmer days before we head into winter…. I enjoy cooking and planning for Easter in the same way that I do for Christmas – it’s yet another opportunity to cook, eat and be merry!

While Easter started out as a Pagan festival, it is now traditionally observed as a Christian holiday. In South Africa, everyone enjoys the benefits of this long weekend with an opportunity to get away and spend time with friends and family…I always look forward to this time as I cling to the last of the warmer days before we head into winter.

Easter in Cooking

Dishes that are typical at Easter time and are considered “traditional Easter fare” have been made so through religious beliefs. These include lamb, fish, traditional breads, cakes and hot cross buns. I tend to style my menu around some of these ideas, with bunnies, eggs, nests and carrots as part of the theme.

I enjoy cooking and planning for Easter in the same way that I do for Christmas – it’s yet another opportunity to cook, eat and be merry!

How I spend Easter

I love to host gatherings for friends and family over Easter. We usually have a big family celebration on Easter Sunday, starting with the Easter Egg Hunt for the kids in the morning followed by a Sunday lunch roast.

The school is one of the many that have fallen through the cracks in the inept Eastern Cape Education system. It struggles with a lack of space with only 5 classrooms for more than 350 children. There is also a severe shortage of textbooks averaging only 5 per 100 pupils. A number of classes are given in temporary structures erected by the community. From what I could see, the only sports equipment was a football made of rolled-up plastic bags.

Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes is available directly from Jan, or by online order at Burble. You can also purchase your copy in-store at Dry Dock Liquor Merchants, The Refillery, or enquire at your local bookstore.

Easter Choc Chip Cookies

Makes 48

These cookies are an Easter holiday version of a firm family favourite. My kids get very excited when white candy-coated Easter eggs hit the shelves, so popping these into their favourite cookie is a welcome treat. I always share this tip when making choc chip cookies – don’t overbake them and serve them straight out of the oven while still gooey and warm.

Here’s what goes in:

1 cup softened butter

450g light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3 cups cake flour (400g)

A small handful of regular chocolate chips

6 white candy-coated Easter eggs, roughly chopped

How to do it:

Preheat your oven to 160°C. Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer and then add the eggs one by one. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving the chocolate chips, and continue to blend. Once you have a smooth, creamy batter, add the chocolate chips and chopped Easter eggs and mix these in by hand.

There are a couple of ways to make your cookies. Either divide the mixture in half and roll it into two long cylinders, making sure the circumference is the same from top to bottom. Slice this roll into individual cookies using a sharp knife, flattening them out slightly when you place them on the baking sheet. Alternatively, roll individual balls in the palms of your hands, keeping the size consistent. Again, flatten them out and place each one about 4cm apart on a lined baking sheet measuring approximately 25 x 40cm. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just golden brown in colour.



Carrot Cake

Easter conjures up images of bunnies which is fitting, I think, for some decadent carrot cake on the day! But not all carrot cakes are created equal. What separates the truly exceptional from the mediocre is the moistness and luxuriousness of the cake. Every time I bake this cake, I make sure I use quality ingredients and give it my undivided attention, so as to not overbake it. This recipe is a combination of several that I have tried and tested and is worth its weight in gold.

Here’s what goes in:

2 ½ cups of self-raising flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of allspice

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 teaspoon of ginger

2 cloves, crushed

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of vegetable oil

1 quarter cup of apricot jam, melted

The zest of 1 orange

4 eggs

2 cups of grated carrot

1 cup of crushed pineapple, drained

Half a cup of pecan nuts, chopped

For the Cream Cheese icing:

250g firm cream cheese

250g butter, softened

3 cups of icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

How to do it:

Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line a Bundt tin with a diameter of approximately 23cm. Using a cake mixer, blend the eggs and sugar together until they are thick and pale yellow in colour. Add the oil and melted apricot jam and stir well. Mix in the dry ingredients and then add the carrot, pineapple, orange zest and pecan nuts. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, but once you’re halfway through, regularly check the carrot cake by inserting a skewer to check its consistency. While the cake is baking, prepare your cream cheese icing. Once your cake is ready, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool completely before icing it.

To make the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla using a hand-held beater. Gradually add the icing sugar and continue to mix until you have the desired consistency. If the icing feels too soft (particularly if it’s a hot day), you can add more icing sugar to ensure it won’t run off your cake.

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