2014-04-11 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Have yourselves a berry-filled Easter
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

Spring finally feels like it is here to stay and Easter is just a few days away.

Sunrise service, going to church in our Easter bonnets, brunch, Easter dinner, such a special day. As a springtime ritual, I must have a fruity dessert for my Easter dinner and fresh berries fit that bill very nicely. Any one of these desserts will delight your family and friends.

Vanilla cake with buttercream, berries and jam

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour; 1/3 cup cornstarch; 31/2 teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; ¾ cup water; 2/3 cup vegetable oil; ½ cup milk; 1 tablespoon vanilla; 4 egg whites; ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar; 1 ½ cups sugar; butter cream frosting; 1 cup strawberry jam; 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and/or blueberries, stemmed and halved; 1 cup whole fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and/or blueberries.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottomoftwo8x1½-inchroundcakepans. Line bottoms with parchment paper or waxed paper; grease and lightly flour pans. Set pans aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add the water, oil, milk and vanilla. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight up). Fold beaten egg whites into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on racks.

To assemble, use a long serrated knife to cut cake layers in half horizontally. Place one cake layer, cut side down, on a serving plate. Spread with a generous ¾ cup of the butter cream frosting and ¼ cup of the jam. Top with 1 cup of the berries. Repeat with two more cake layers.

For top layer, place final cake layer cut side down and spread with ¾ cup butter frosting, ¼ cup jam and top with 1 cup whole berries.

Butter cream frosting

½ cup butter or margarine; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 4 cups sifted powdered sugar; and ½ cup milk.

Beat butter or margarine and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk beating well after each addition. Beat in additional milk, if necessary, to make spreading consistency.

Blueberry sour cream delight

1 recipe dessert crust; 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries; 1/3 cup sugar; 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca; ¼ cup water; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel; ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg; 1 ½ cups dairy sour cream; 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten; ½ cup sugar; 1 teaspoon vanilla; and fresh blueberries.

Prepare and bake dessert crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups blueberries, the 1/3 cup sugar, tapioca, water, cinnamon, lemon peel and nutmeg. Let stand for 15 minutes. Cook and stir mixture over medium heat until blueberries become juicy and mixture is bubbly. Turn into partially baked dessert crust.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine sour cream, egg yolks, the ½ cup sugar and the vanilla. Pour evenly over blueberry mixture.

Bake about 50 minutes or until sour cream layer is set when gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack for about 1 hour. With a sharp knife, loosen crust from side of pan; remove side. Cover and chill overnight before serving.

To serve, garnish with fresh blueberries.

Dessert crust

½ cup butter, softened; ¼ cup sugar; ½ teaspoon baking powder; ¼ teaspoon salt; 1 egg yolk; and 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Beat in egg yolk. Add flour; beat until combined. (Mixture will be crumbly). Work dough mixture with hands just until mixture holds together. Press the mixture on the bottom and 1 ½ inches up the side of a nine inch springform pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges of crust are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack while preparing filling.

Lemon-blackberry mini tarts

½ 15 ounce package unbaked piecrust or recipe for 1 crust pie; ½ (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened; ¼ cup purchased lemon curd; 1 cup fresh blackberries; 2 tablespoons seedless blackberry spreadable fruit; 2 teaspoons lemon juice; 4 mint sprigs; and powdered sugar.

Let pie crust sand at room temperature 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold piecrust. Cut (4) 4 ½ to 5-inch rounds from pie crust.

Press rounds firmly into bottom and up sides of (4) 3 ½ to 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. Trim crusts even with top of pans. Prick bottoms of each crust several times with tines of fork. Place pans on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on wire rack.

In a small mixing bowl beat cream cheese and lemon curd with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Divide filling among pastry shells, spreading evenly. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours or until well chilled.

Before serving, remove from pans; arrange berries on each tart. Combine spreadable fruit and lemon juice; spoon over tarts. Add a mint sprig and sift powdered sugar over tops.

Happy Spring and Happy Easter.

Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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