Although the mornings are still chilly, it seems like spring is just around the corner; the days are getting longer, and as temperatures rise slowly but surely, nature seems to be awakening… Little birds are happily chirruping in the trees again, beautiful coloured flowers are sprouting everywhere, and people are starting to smile again…
With the hint of spring just around the corner, Easter seems to be galloping closer and closer at an alarming speed. Soon, everyone will be preparing frantically for this special occasion; Easter is a religious festival and holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, which happened on the third day of his burial, after his crucifixion by the Romans, at Calvary (Calvary, according to the Gospels, was a site outside of Jerusalem’s walls). Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus (In Christianity, the Passion of Jesus, is the short final period in Jesus’s life, beginning with his entry into Jerusalem and ending with his crucifixion and his death on Good Friday) preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer and penance. The week before Easter is described by most Christians as the Holy Week, and contains the days of the Easter Triduum (The Easter Triduum is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thusday, which commemorates the foot washing and last supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, reaches it’s high point in the Easter vigil, which is a service held in traditional Christian churches which is the first official celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, as well as Good Friday which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus).
Easter and the different holidays that are related to Easter are moveable feasts that do not fall on a particular date in the Gregorian or Julian calendar, but follow only the cycle of the sun. Easter traditions vary across the world, and include sunrise services, the Easter Acclamation or Paschal Greeting, and decorating easter eggs, which symbolise the empty tomb (The tomb in which Jesus was laid after his crucifixion and death, was found empty by the women who came to carry out their last devotions to his body with spices and oils. The first hint that something had happened was the rolled away stone at the entrance of the tomb and an angel who brought the news that Jesus had risen). The Easter lily, which symbolises the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel during Easter.
Over the years, many traditions and customs have been observed, differing from country to country; some of these customs are Easter egg hunts, Easter parades, traditional Easter foods and the Easter bunny. In Greece, the traditional Easter meal is mageiritsa, which is a stew of chopped lamb liver and greens, seasoned with egg and lemon sauce. In Neapolitan cuisine, the main Easter dishes are composed of a salty pie made with bread dough and stuffed with a variety of salamis and cheeses. The traditional Italian Easter pastry is called Pastiera, which is a type of tart made with cooked wheat, eggs, ricotta cheese and flavoured with orange flowered water (eau de fleur d’oranger, in France). In many Scandinavian countries, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine, eggs are died red and are the traditional Easter food, symbolizing the split blood of the Christ and the promise of eternal life. In France, one of the main Easter traditions are the Easter bells, and on the Thursday before Easter, the church bells accros France are silenced to mourn the death of Jesus Christ, and remain silent until Easter Sunday. According to legend, the bells would fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope before beginning their journey back to french churches, and would collect eggs along the way and scatter them into gardens. The bells would then ring on Easter Sunday to announce the resurrection of Christ. Traditionally and in many different cultures, the main meat dish such as roast lamb, porc dishes or liver pies would be reserved for the Easter Sunday, or Easter Monday which are considered to be happy occasions, due to the resurrection of Christ. Good Friday being a sad and more solemn day, many Christians observe a period of fasting and abstinence, while others replace meat based foods with sea-food, fish dishes and vegetables…
Here below you will find my recipe for this beautiful two layered vanilla and white chocolate Easter Cake, which will never cease to amaze your guests with its light sponge interior, it’s rich sugar paste topping and it’s creamy, chocolaty flavouring…
Happy Easter to everyone!
- 125g plain yogurt
- 3 free range eggs
- 250g caster sugar
- 375g all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 and a half teaspoons natural vanilla powder
- 125ml vegetable oil (or 125g unsalted butter)
- 100g white chocolate, melted
For the decorations and icing
- 500g mascarpone
- 100g icing sugar
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla essence
- A few drops of blue food colouring
- A few drops of red food colouring
- A few drops of yellow food colouring
- 125g light green sugar paste
- 125g light orange sugar paste
- small candied Easter eggs, (different shapes and colours)
- A milk and white chocolate Easter bunny
- Small white sugar balls
- 3 wooden prods and a 25cm cardboard round
- 70cm Easter ribbon
TIP: Because this is a layer cake, you will need to prepare two batters, or simply double the ingredients and divide into two cake tins, one of 25cm, the other 30cm diameter. The ingredients for the decorations and icing have already been doubled.
Preheat the oven to 185°C (365°F). Grease or line two round baking tins, one of 25cm, the other of 30cm and set aside for later.
Pour the yogurt in a large bowl and add the eggs one at a time. Add the sugar and powdered vanilla and beat until frothy. Then sift the flour and baking powder and mix until well combined. TIP: The mixture will become much thicker, make sure there aren’t any lumps. On a low heat melt the white chocolate (be careful not to burn the chocolate) and pour it into the mixture, stirring all the while. Finish up by adding the oil and mix one last time before pouring into the cake mould. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the tip of a knife comes out clean.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for 1h on a wire rack. TIP: If the cake isn’t even use a cutting wire (lyre) to cut off the excess. Meanwhile, start preparing the utensils and ingredients you will be needing to decorate your layer cake.
For the decorating and icing
Prepare three bowls which you will use to divide the mascarpone icing into 3 different colours: pale green, pale pink and a pale yellowy-orange colour. Whip the mascarpone, powdered vanilla and icing sugar together and pour a small quantity into each little bowl. Reserve a few large spoons of white mascarpone in a fourth bowl for later. Add a few drops of blue and yellow food coloring in the first of the 3 bowls to create the green icing. Mix well. Add a few drops of red food colouring in the seconde bowl making sure the pink isn’t too bright. Lastly, add a few drops of yellow and red food colouring in the last bowl to create the yellowy-orange colour. Store all three bowls in the fridge while you ice both cakes with the white icing.
Use a flat metal spatula to ice the cake with what’s left of the white mascarpone icing (top and sides) then put the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes (This process ensures that the sugar paste adheres properly to the cake). Note: because this is a layer cake, don’t forget that each step must be done with both cakes.
Once the cake is chilled, take it out of the fridge and set it on a turntable. Sprinkle some maïzena on the table and roll out the green sugar paste Note: It’s much easier to use maïzena rather than icing sugar when rolling out sugar paste as it permits the sugar paste to stay souple and stops it from cracking.
The sugar paste must be rolled out in a large circle at least the diameter of the cake + 4cm. With the aide of the spatula carefully place the sugar paste onto the cake, using your fingers to flatten it out at first, and finishing up by using 2 spatulas. Decorate the bottom of the cake with a pretty Easter ribbon (This cake will be used as the top half of the layer cake).
Chose 3 different nozzles, one for a grass effect (nozzle #233) and the 2 others for the flowers (drop flower nozzle # 106 and # 107) and insert them into three different piping bags. Take the bowls of different coloured icing out of the fridge and pour each colour into a different piping bag, making sure the light green icing goes into the piping bag containing the nozzle # 233 (for the grass effect). Place the chocolate bunny on the top of the cake and start by piping a few different coloured flowers around it’s feet. Continue by piping some grass and alternate between grass and flowers until the entire cake is decorated.
Sprinkle some maïzena on the table and roll out the orange sugar paste. Cover the second cake (which was iced with white mascarpone and chilled for 30 minutes before hand) and flatten the orange sugar paste making sure there are no air bubbles. using the orange and pink icing pipe 2 layers of flowers around the sides of the cake. Add a white sugar bead in the center of each pink flower. Wrap an Easter ribbon around the button of the cake.
Insert three wooden prods in the center of the orange cake and place a cardboard round on top (The diameter of the cardboard round must be equal to the diameter of the smallest cake which will be placed on top). Carefully place the green coloured cake on top of the cake making sure you don’t damage the icing on the sides or move the cardboard round as you do so.
Cut yourself a large slice of this delicious Easter cake and enjoy it with a white chocolate frappuccino. Enjoy and Happy Easter!
Don’t forget to come back next week and check out my article on turmeric, lemon and orange cake! Have a lovely week…
References: Easter Wikipedia