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Eat Drink Mississippi: Take Easter Cake Baking Challenge For Memorable Holiday

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First, take pink marshmallow Peeps and intricate molded chocolate bunnies off the table. Now, consider the fact that almost every other Easter dessert, including an awe-inspiring decorated cake, can be made with your own loving hands. With that in mind, I’m issuing an Easter Cake Challenge for anyone hosting a special meal or gathering this weekend.

Easter comes but once a year, heralding the advent of spring and for many, a time to celebrate a family-oriented holiday with religious origins. Buying a cake bound in plastic could send a message that skews your image as a hostess who cares enough to bake the very best.

I have a simple, one-sentence piece of advice for you as you consider my Easter Cake Challenge. Bake alone. That way, if your cake falls, runs or burns, you can scoop it up, throw it out and start over. As an instructor at Jackson’s The Everyday Gourmet once told me in a baking class, “It’s not gold; it’s only flour, water and eggs, the simplest of all ingredients.”

Along with my advice to bake solo, here are more encouraging words. Many cake recipes are simple and fool-proof, even for novice bakers. Canned icing can be colored, doctored and disguised. And perhaps the best tip of all?

Edible grass is this year’s newest and perhaps most innovative decorating tool. Found in the Easter aisle of most stores, it’s a perfect filler for holes and lumps on the most lopsided of cakes. And, it can serve as a perfect hiding place for jelly beans, pastel sprinkles and chocolate bunnies.

To get started on your Easter cake challenge, an easy yellow cake can be on your table in no time, ready for the addition of edible grass. All you need is an 18.25 ounce box of yellow cake mix, two eggs, one-third cup vegetable oil, one cup white cranberry juice (frozen concentrate, thawed is fine) and1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla (or your favorite) extract.

Bake two 8-inch cakes according to package directions, with the addition of 1-1/2 teaspoons extract to the batter and substituting white cranberry juice for water. Let cakes cool completely. Add one teaspoon of extract to a can of icing. Ice each cake layer with frosting, stack the layers and top with edible grass. Last,“hide” jelly beans in the grass and for the crowning touch, place a small-to-medium chocolate bunny straight from the box in a place of prominence.

You’ll feel the love and excitement from your guests as you emerge from the kitchen with your work of art. And, a homemade cake can pull double-duty as an Easter table centerpiece and dessert.

Emails from some readers stating ladyfingers aren’t available in their area caused me to change this week’s recipe. If you’re looking for something a little more intricate than the simple cake described above, try my Easter Strawberry Bundt Cake. It’s moist and delicious courtesy of fresh strawberries and yogurt. And, it’s perfect served solo or topped with fresh strawberries and ice cream. Happy Easter!

easter strawberry bundt cake

Easter Strawberry Bundt Cake

2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra in separate bowl
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt
Pint of fresh strawberries, divided

1/3 cups of diced strawberries
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in the lemon zest and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated, ending with flour.

Measure 1-1/2 cups of sliced and diced strawberries. Toss the strawberries with the remaining flour, about ¼ cup. Gently mix the coated berries into the batter.

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Out of the oven, allow cake to cool at least 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Once cooled, place the cake on a serving platter. Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a food processor (or mixer if you don’t have one). Drizzle over the top of the cake. Slice remaining strawberries and place on top of cake and all around edges. Let cake sit for at least 30 additional minutes to firm up before slicing.

Story by Kara Kimbrough, published on Eat Drink Mississippi

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