Gourmet Galley: Easter cakes

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Wow Easter dinner guests with an assortment of desserts, including, clockwise, from upper left,  Double Coconut Cake, Pound Cake and Strawberry-Lemon Roll.
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Wow Easter dinner guests with an assortment of desserts, including, clockwise, from upper left, Double Coconut Cake, Pound Cake and Strawberry-Lemon Roll.

By Corinne Cook

Easter is a happy holiday, a day of celebrating and feasting. The Easter season seems to begin when we start seeing chocolate and brightly colored eggs, cuddly bunnies and chicks in all the stores. Outside, the azaleas are blooming and the trees are sending out their first bright green leaves. Spring is here.

No matter your age, most will agree they fondly remember dyeing eggs on Saturday evening before Easter. I never had enough of that; we finished with the eggs long before I was ready to quit. Mom boiled a big pot of eggs but by the time she divided them among six children, that project didn’t last long. That’s when we started double dipping them and messing up the pretty pastel colors.

Indulging in a delicious chocolate egg or feasting on luscious desserts is a part of the Easter celebration. Celebrate Easter this year by baking a homemade cake. Break from tradition and instead of a bunny, cross or rabbit-shaped cake full of frosting or jelly beans, just present a pretty cake. A pretty cake, made from scratch that tastes delicious.

You don’t even have to know how to decorate a cake. Look at the pound cake in the accompanying photograph, no decoration at all; it’s the star, but it’s showcased with fresh flowers piled on a plate underneath it. Placing the cake on a cake stand automatically elevates its importance. Once it’s up there, do something under it. That can be something as simple as Easter grass with dyed eggs around the base or one beautiful lily.

A light shower of confectioners’ sugar over the top of a pound cake is nice. I have to do that sometimes to hide flaws, like some particles sticking to the pan when I turned the cake out of the pan or on places that got too dark during the baking. Snip the dark spots off and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar to hide the blemishes.

Pound cake is a favorite of those not fond of sweet icings.

The coconut cake is truly coconut flavored with cream of coconut in the filling and in the layers. Showcase the moist cake with a superb icing and simple decoration of toasted coconut pressed on the top edge and the sides of the cake. A ring of greenery and roses sits on a tray under the cake stand.

Jelly rolls are Southern sponge cakes filled with jam or jelly. The sponge, or cake part, is made by first whipping the egg whites separately from the yolks. They are part of the leavening and will be gently folded into the batter to produce a light, spongy cake.

After baking, the warm cake is rolled and cooled in a towel that’s been dusted with confectioners’ sugar. After cooling, it’s unwrapped and filled with your favorite filling. The filling can be jelly, jam, chocolate sauce or pudding, finely chopped fruit and cream or any creation you come up with. I made a clear fresh lemon jelly sauce to spread on the cake and topped that with fresh strawberries for the filling. Dollop a little whipped cream or whipped topping and strawberry slices over the rolled cake and you have another show stopper.

Eggs are usually on sale around Easter, so it’s a good time to bake desserts that call for a number of eggs.

Select a cake from one of these recipes and present it proudly. If you read the recipe first, then assemble all the ingredients and have them ready and measured, coming up with your homemade creation can be enjoyable and therapeutic.