Monday, 9 April 2007

Easter - Downsized Celebration

This year’s Easter is a bit of a boring story – I’m home alone, my boyfriend is overseas, and my family is as far away as usual. So embarking on all sorts of culinary Easter adventures didn’t seem to make much sense – after all, who’s gonna eat it? Furthermore, half of the long Easter weekend is occupied by work. However, lucky me, on the two free days I’ve been invited to an Easter brunch as well as a chocolate fondue, thanks to Katherine and Nora! You see, all is not lost!

And trying to see the brighter side of things, I quickly decided to dye the four remaining eggs in my fridge. I wanted to do it with natural colour and used turmeric, hoping for a bright yellow. Unfortunately, after letting them soak for a whole night, there is not much of a yellow colour to be seen. However, they have some yellowish spots here and there so they will hopefully qualify as Easter eggs.

Back home, I would have spent the evening of Good Friday with my mom, dying dozens of eggs in all sorts of colours. The following day, we would bake as much as possible – my family is used to eat cake rather by the square meter… Having no seasonal fruits yet, we would usually make two big baking sheets covered with yeast dough, topped with juicy quark filling, and crunchy streusel. With 1.5 kg of flour as the basic ingredient for the dough, we would have enough dough leftover to make two sweet Easter breads: one with raisins and candid orange or lemon peel for my parents and my brother and another one just with almonds for my sister and me (being both raisins and mixed peel haters). Traditionally, those breads get shaped into round loaves, slashed in the pattern of a cross, and brushed with egg yolk for a nice, golden brown colour. The sweet breads we would have for breakfast with butter and honey or just plain, and the cake for afternoon tea or whenever you happened to pass the pantry...

This year, there was neither the time nor the need to engage myself for several hours in a yeasty adventure of that sort. Luckily, I can at least show you our typical baking sheet-size cheesecake because I made it for a friend’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and never posted about it.
Finding European-style quark in Australia is rather difficult and in any case very expensive. Thus, you could substitute it with ricotta but make sure to choose a rather sour one and not the ricotta recommended for baked cheesecake. The real European quark gives a slightly sour note which is the necessary counterpart to the overall sweetness of filling and streusel topping.

Happy Easter!

Easter yeast cake with quark filling and streusel topping

I use my regular yeast dough recipe but you can also use your preferred brioche recipe or a less rich version if you feel like eating healthy. If you don’t feel like eating healthy at all, then add your favourite streusel topping – you won’t regret it!

The quark filling

Here, you can experiment as much as you want adding raisins, mixed peel (if you really like it) or a finely chopped apple.

4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
75g butter
200g caster sugar
2 sachets of vanilla sugar (or 1 tbsp vanilla essence)
4 egg yolk
1 kg quark or ricotta
100-200g sour cream
1 tbsp cornstarch (semolina works fine, too)
A few drops of rum essence or 1-2 tbsp rum (optional)

Yield: enough filling for a big baking sheet

Beat egg whites with salt until stiff.

In another bowl, cream butter with sugar and vanilla sugar until pale and fluffy, gradually add egg yolks mixing well after each addition.

Add quark and sour cream to the butter mixture, mixing well. Add cornstarch and rum essence, if using. At this point, you could also add raisins etc.

Gently fold in beaten egg whites.

Spread filling on the rolled-out yeast dough and cover with streusel if desired. Fan-bake at 150 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes.

The source
Loosely based on "Hedwig Maria Stuber: Ich helf dir kochen"

The hint
Check the dough base on the edges for doneness: It should be golden yellow and not dark. The quark filling will stay whitish and only get a golden yellow colour on some spots. If you are like me and pile up as much streusel topping as possible, then the entire surface will be covered with a crunchy, golden crust...hmmm...

The streusel topping

250g flour
150g sugar (for crunchy streusel, don't choose caster sugar)
100-150g butter, cold, diced
1 sachet vanilla sugar

Put all ingredients into a bowl and quickly rub the butter into the flour using your fingers. If the mixture is too crumbly and doesn't come together at all, add a little more butter. If you work too slowly and the butter starts melting, don't add more flour (unless you want your streusel concrete-style). Rather pop the bowl into the fridge or freezer (depending on your patience) until the butter has firmed up again.

Crumble mixture on top of your cake. Leftover streusel can be frozen.

The source
My mom's creation


Nora B. said...

Looking at your blog always makes me hungry....

Eva said...

Happy to hear that I've achieved that! Thanks for stopping by!

Anh said...

Eva, now I know why you are such a good baker - because of all the Easter bakes!

I understand your feeling, but I am sure as time goes by, things will be better!

And your Easter yeast cake is really beautiful!

Eva said...

Since he's away, I've got horrible sugar cravings...can't be good for me... But I'm getting used to it - and receiving nice comments helps a lot! Thank you!

Anna (Morsels and Musings) said...

streusel topping is the best kind! i love it.

especially when it has cinnamon in it and you make an apple or pear cake. yummy!

Eva said...

Oh yes, I can't have enough of that stuff... With cinnamon I also like it on plums - there is almost no cake that can't be improved by a full load of streusel topping!