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Modern Easter Treats

The long Easter weekend is the perfect time to get together with your loved ones, and there's plenty of yummy things associated with this celebratory time of year to make for your friends and family. For a few modern twists on some classic Easter recipes, here's some recipe suggestions for some super tasty treats to make this weekend:

 

Chocolate & spice Easter hot cross buns

Adding the Easter staple of Chocolate to traditional Hot Cross Buns is a real winner.

Ingredients:

zest and juice 1 large orange
sunflower oil, for greasing
For the dough and crosses
225ml semi-skimmed milk
50g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 large egg
450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp fast-action yeast
50g golden caster sugar
For the flavouring and glaze
140g raisins
100g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
100g plain flour

  • Make the dough first. Heat the milk in a pan until steaming. Remove from the heat, and drop in the butter. After a couple of mins, beat in the egg and half the orange zest. The liquid should be just warm for step 2.
  • Mix the strong flour, yeast, 1 tsp salt and the sugar in a large bowl, then tip in the liquid and stir to make a soft dough without dry patches. Flour the work surface and your hands, then knead the dough for 5-10 mins until smooth and elastic. Use a stand mixer or processor if you like. Oil a large bowl, sit the dough inside it, then cover with oiled cling film. Rise in a warm place for about 1 hr or until doubled in size.
  • Put the raisins and half the orange juice in a small pan or covered bowl, and either simmer for a few mins or microwave on High for 1 min until hot. Cool completely. Break the chocolate into a food processor with the cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar, then pulse until very finely chopped. Mix in the rest of the zest. If you don’t have a processor, chop it by hand or grate it, then mix with the other ingredients.
  • Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and press it out to a large rectangle, a little bigger than A4 paper. Scatter it evenly with the chocolate mix and the raisins, which should have absorbed all of the juice (drain them if not). Roll the dough up around the filling, then knead it well for a few mins until the chocolate and fruit are evenly spread. Some raisins and chocolate will try to escape, but keep kneading them back in.
  • Grease then line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into buns by pinching each ball of dough into a purse shape, concentrating on making the underneath of the ball (which will be the top) as smooth as you can. Put the buns, smooth-side up, onto the baking sheet, leaving room for rising. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and prove in a warm place for 30-45 mins or until the dough has risen and doesn’t spring back quickly when prodded gently.
  • Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. To make the paste for the crosses, gradually stir 6-7 tbsp water into the plain flour to make a smooth, thick paste, then put in a food bag and snip off the end to about 5mm. Pipe the crosses, then bake for 20-25 mins until the buns are risen and dark golden brown.
  • Mix the rest of the orange juice with the remaining sugar and let it dissolve. Brush the syrup over the buns while they are hot, then leave to cool. Eat on the day of baking, or toast the next day.

Simnel Cake

A Simnel cake is an Easter tradition dating back to Victorian times, but if fruit cakes and marzipan aren't really your thing, this modern version might take your fancy.

Ingredients:

For the cake and cake pops:
340 g butter, softened
340 g caster sugar
340 g self-raising flour
6 eggs, beaten
2 lemons, zested and juiced
For the buttercream:
130 g butter, softened
350 g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon curd, plus extra to fill and decorate
To decorate:
100 g white chocolate sprinkles, to decorate

  • For the cake and cake pops: Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a muffin tray with eight paper muffin cases and grease two 20cm sandwich tins, and line the bottoms with baking parchment.
  • Cream together the softened butter and sugar, until pale and fluffy. Sift half of the flour into the bowl, and add half of the eggs. Beat until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour and eggs. Add the lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of the juice and briefly beat again.
  • Fill the eight muffin cases, approximately two thirds full, and bake for 22-25 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • Divide the remaining cake batter between the two sandwich tins, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes begin to come away from the sides of the tins.
  • For the buttercream: Rub the softened butter into the icing sugar using the back of a wooden spoon. Add the juice and lemon curd. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • For the cake pops: Remove the cupcakes from the paper cases and crumble into a food processor. Whizz the cupcakes until they turn into crumbs. Alternatively, crumble the cupcakes by hand into a bowl, making the crumbs as small as possible.
  • Take 50-55g of the buttercream and gradually add to the cake crumbs, mixing with the food processor or combining with a fork. Use your hands to shape the mixture into balls. They should hold their shape, but a little more buttercream can be added if necessary. You should have 12-13 balls, 11 are needed to decorate the cake, so you may have a couple to spare.
  • Place the cake pops into a sealed plastic container and then into the freezer. The cake pops will be easier to coat in chocolate if left in the freezer for at least two hours,
  • Once the cake has cooled, sandwich the two halves together with a layer of buttercream on one and a layer of lemon curd on the other. Use the remaining buttercream to decorate the top of the cake. Using a piping bag and small nozzle, drizzle some lemon curd in a zig- zag pattern across the top of the cake, or decorate with sprinkles if preferred.
  • To decorate: Chop the white chocolate into small pieces and place into a heatproof bowl. Melt slowly over a saucepan of just boiled water.
  • Remove the cake pops from the freezer, if they have been left in the freezer overnight, remove about 15 minutes before decorating, to allow them to soften a little. Dip a cocktail stick into the chocolate and insert one into each cake pop. Holding the stick, use a teaspoon to cover each cake pop in chocolate. Before the chocolate sets, decorate with sprinkles.
  • Place the cake pops directly onto the cake, the cocktail sticks will hold them in place, arranged in a circle on the outside edge of the cake.

Chocolate Eggs

Chocolate eggs are a must, and making your own is much more fun than buying them.

Ingredients:

For the egg
200g good-quality dark chocolate, plus a little extra for decorating (we used Green & Black’s 82%)
To decorate
25g bag chocolate button
25g bag white chocolate button, with speckles
ribbon, approx 50 cm long
Special equipment
2 chocolate egg moulds, clean flat pastry brush or small paintbrush

  • Break the chocolate into pieces and gently melt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir until smooth, then take off the heat and leave until cool, but still runny.
  • Spoon a quarter of the chocolate into one of the egg moulds and spread thickly over the inside with a flat pastry brush or paintbrush. Be sure to cover the sides well, as this makes it easier to join the edges. Check that the chocolate is even by holding the mould up to the light. Repeat with the other mould. Leave in a cool place to set, then chill for 5 mins. TIP: Putting the egg halves in the fridge once the chocolate has set makes it easier to add another layer of warm chocolate. Don’t be tempted to leave the moulds in the fridge any longer than necessary as condensation could cause the chocolate to discolour.
  • Re-warm the remaining chocolate and repeat the process for each side of the mould, saving about 1 tbsp of chocolate for later. Use a knife to scrape away any excess around the rim of the mould to give a clean, straight edge. Turn out each half onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, carefully pulling away the mould until it releases itself.
  • Place one half of the egg on its back (you can create a nest of scrunched greaseproof paper to stop it from rolling about). Warm the reserved chocolate and brush around the edge of the egg. Place the other half on top and press together. You can seal the join further by brushing with a little more chocolate and filling in any jagged edges or holes. Leave in a cool place to set firm.
  • To decorate, use the paintbrush to dab a little chocolate on the backs of the chocolate buttons. Gently press them onto the egg. For the finishing touch, tie the ribbon around the middle to hide the join

Original source for each recipe:

Chocolate and Spice Hot Cross Buns: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chocolate-spice-hot-cross-buns

Simnel Cake: http://goodfood.uktv.co.uk/recipe/lemon-simnel-cake/

Chocolate Eggs: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5808/simple-chocolate-button-egg