Easter Baking


For intrepid and enthusiastic bakers, Easter is a super exciting time of the year.  Every country around the world has its Easter baking traditions – from Finland to Greece, Spain to Romania, Italy, Ukraine and indeed Russia too!

Many of the Nordic and Eastern countries have elaborate egg painting traditions, and dyed hard-boiled eggs are incorporated into enriched braided yeast breads in Greece, Italy and Spain.  Using up as many of the surplus eggs accumulated during the Lenten session was definitely a priority in country households. 

All manner of celebration cakes were baked, not just to mark Easter itself but also the arrival of Spring, Our Lord’s resurrection and in Finland, Pääsiäisleipä, a festive cylindrical bread flavoured with orange, lemon, lots of dried fruit and cardamom, traditionally baked in milking pails was made to celebrate the arrival of new calves!

Germany and Austria still have a rich baking tradition.  Families bake a wide variety of delicious Easter biscuits to share with family and friends.  I first tasted a variety of these little biscuits in the late 1960’s when I was invited to my first ever Easter Bunny hunt by Irene Bauer, she and her mother, refugees from the Second World War lived at Ballymaloe for over 20 years.  They brought their cherished traditions and customs with them from their native Bavaria and shared the recipes with us.  Everyone had their favourites, I remember loving Terrassen (triple butter shortbread cookies sandwiched with jam) and Haselnussmakronen (hazelnut macaroons) too.  The latter are naturally dairy and gluten-free – made just from egg whites, ground hazelnuts, a little cinnamon and sugar.  I also remember butter cookies which had sprinkles on top.  They could be made in a variety of shapes including bunnies for Easter and fir trees for Christmas.

Our Easter traditions are Simnel Cake, a gorgeous rich fruit cake iced with toasted marzipan with an extra layer of marzipan baked into the centre and of course hot cross buns.  The children make chocolate Rice Krispie nests and fill them with speckled eggs and lots and lots of Easter bunny biscuits to hide in the garden and share with their friends.  Making Easter biscuits is time consuming but fun when it becomes a family activity, that’s what memories are made of…Let’s keep all the customs going and pass both traditions and recipes onto the next generation. 

* All these biscuits keep for several weeks in an airtight container if you can resist them. 

Easter Butter Biscuits (Buttergebad)

These biscuits can be made into any shape you fancy – bunnies, Easter eggs….

Makes 60-70 biscuits

400g (14oz) soft butter

200g (7oz) sugar

5 egg yolks – save the egg whites for macaroons

500g (18oz) plain white flour


1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons cream


Line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Sieve and stir in the flour, turn out onto a board and knead the mixture until it comes together.  Rest for 30 minutes in a fridge to firm up. 

Mix the egg yolk and cream together for the glaze.

Preheat the oven to 160˚C/325˚F/Gas Mark 3.

Roll out the dough into scant 5mm (1/4 inch) approx. thick and stamp out into Easter shapes – bunnies etc. 

Brush the top with glaze and scatter with sprinkles.  Put on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes approx. making sure to keep an eye on them.  Cool on a wire rack. 

Mrs Bauer’s Terrassen Biscuits

The Bauer’s were a German refugee family that my father-in-law gave a home and a job to in 1947.

Makes 10 – 15

You will need three different size biscuit cutters: 6cm (2 1/2 inch), 5cm (2 inch), 4cm (1 1/2 inch) of the same shape – bunnies, hearts, stars, teddy bears or whatever is your fancy

350g (12oz) white flour

110g (4oz) caster sugar

225g (8oz) cold butter

raspberry jam

icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl; rub in the cold butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 5mm (1/4 inch) thick.  Cut into biscuits of whatever shape you choose of equal numbers.  Bake in the preheated oven until they are pale brown, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.

You may need to gather the pastry together a couple of times and reroll it after each cutting.

When the biscuits are cold place the largest one on a sheet of parchment paper, take the medium-size biscuit and butter some jam on the base, then place down in the centre of the larger biscuit, then take the smallest biscuit and butter some jam on the base of that and places carefully into the centre of the medium size biscuit then dust with icing sugar.  Repeat with the rest of your biscuits.

Easter Almond Crisps

Makes 30 biscuits

110g (4oz) self-raising flour

pinch of salt

50g (2oz) caster sugar

50g (2oz) butter, diced

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic


1 egg white, preferably free-range and organic

110g (4oz) icing sugar, sieved


40g (1 1/2oz) almonds, roughly chopped

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and add the caster sugar.   Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the egg yolks and mix to a firm dough. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Roll out the pastry on a lightly-floured worktop or between 2 pieces of parchment paper.  Cut the pastry with a floured 5cm (2 inch) round fluted cutter.  Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheets.

To make the icing, whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage and gradually add in the icing sugar.  Put a small teaspoon of icing in the centre of each biscuit, smooth it slightly and sprinkle the chopped almonds on top of the biscuits. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until light golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Easter Hazelnut Macaroons

Makes 50 approx.

250g (9oz) hazelnuts

250g (9oz) vanilla sugar

a pinch of pure cinnamon (optional)

4 egg whites, preferably free-range and organic

50 whole hazelnuts, toasted for garnish

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.

Cover 2 or 3 baking sheets with silicone paper.

Place the whole hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the skins loosen (keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn).  Remove from the oven and rub off the skins in a tea towel.  Grate the peeled hazelnuts in a nut mill or whizz with a little of the sugar in a food processor until quite fine – add cinnamon if using.

Whisk the egg with the caster sugar until they hold a stiff peak.

Fold in the grated hazelnuts.  Drop a teaspoon of the mixture onto the baking sheets and top each one with a toasted whole hazelnut.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes approx.  Cool on a wire rack.

Easter Coconut Meringues

Easy peasy to make, can be tiny bites or adapted to make two x 18cm (7 inch) coconut meringue discs for a delectable pudding (bake the meringues for 45 minutes or until set and crisp and allow to cool).  I’ve also made these with frozen desiccated coconut, even more delicious – reduce the coconut to 50g (2oz). 

Makes 30 approx.

2 egg whites, preferably free-range and organic

125g (4 1/2oz) vanilla castor sugar

75g (3oz) unsweetened desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with silicone. 

Whisk the egg whites with the vanilla sugar until very stiff and gently fold in the desiccated coconut gently.  Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes approx. 

Cool on a wire rack. 

Easter Hazelnut Sticks

This is another hazelnut biscuit but quite different to the macaroons.

Makes 45 approx. 

150g (5oz) plain flour 
125g (4 1/2oz) cold butter
125g (4 1/2oz) ground hazelnuts
125g (4 1/2oz) vanilla caster sugar 

1 egg white, preferably free-range and organic 
75g (3oz) icing sugar, sieved 

Sieve the flour into a bowl.  Grate the cold butter into tiny pieces and toss in the flour so they won’t stick together. Mix in the ground hazelnuts and vanilla caster sugar and knead until it forms a dough. Cover and leave to rest in a fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.
Line 2 or 3 baking trays with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in half.  Roll on parchment paper to 5mm (1/4 inch) thick.  Transfer to a baking sheet.  Cut into strips 2cm (3/4 inch) wide and 7.5cm (3 inch) long.  Space apart to allow enough room for expansion. 

Repeat with the rest. 

Whisk the egg white lightly and stir into the icing sugar. Spread the glaze over the dough. 

Bake for approximately 20 minutes until the glaze is pale, coffee colour.  Cool on a wire rack.

Easter Egg Nests

Super easy and fun to make – decorate with fluffy Easter chicks.

Makes 24

4ozs (110g) Rice Krispies or Cornflakes

6ozs (175g) Chocolate

72 speckled mini eggs

cupcake papers or ring moulds

Put the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of hot water.  Bring just to the boil, turn off the heat immediately and allow to melt in the bowl.  Stir in the Rice Krispies or Cornflakes.

Spoon into cupcake cases.  Flatten a little and make a well in the centre.  Fill with three speckled chocolate mini eggs.  Allow to set. 

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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