Thanks so much to everyone who sent in Easter recipes. Betsy Burt offers a marzipan cake that she's made for years and is now passing on to the next generation. Combining the springtime flavours of vanilla, raspberry and almond, this is one of those wonderful cakes that looks fancy but is actually quite easy to make (once you get the hang of the assembly process). As Betsy writes, "Everyone thinks you've fussed and fussed."
Anna Knutson sends a recipe that came into her family when she was a child in southern California. Fruit salad with a sunny lemon sauce, this dish which would work well as part of an Easter brunch or as a simple, light dessert. Anna points out that leftovers always "disappear as if by magic." You could pour them over pound cake or serve with ice cream. (I had some with yogurt and cereal for breakfast the next day.)
I'm still hunting for tried-and-true tart recipes, and Pat Hill is hoping for the secrets to the pumpkin and custard pies that Eaton's used to sell. Also, May is Celiac Awareness month, so anyone with good gluten-free recipes is asked to please send them in. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Marzipan Easter cake
2 x 20 cm (8 in) round layers of white cake
500 ml (2 cups) whipping cream
310 ml (1 1/4 cups) icing sugar, divided
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
1x 390 ml jar (about 12 oz or 1 1/2 cups) seedless raspberry jam
340 g (12 oz) almond paste (found at some specialty food stores)
Slice each cake layer horizontally, for a total of four layers. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat whipping cream with 60 ml (1/4 cup) icing sugar until mixture is thick with soft peaks and about doubled in volume. Add vanilla.
To assemble the cake, place first layer, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread with 1/4 of jam. On cut side of second layer, spread 1/4 of whipping cream and sandwich onto first layer. Spread jam on this layer, spread cream on third layer, sandwich onto second layer, and repeat the process until you have used the four layers of cake, then jam, then cream. You should end with a layer of cream.
Meanwhile, prepare the marzipan coating by kneading almond paste with about 250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar until smooth. (Almond pastes can differ, and you might have to add a few drops of water -- but only a few -- to get the mixture to hold together.) Add food colouring and work through until colour is consistent and paste is smooth. (This can take some time and work.) Place mixture between two pieces of wax paper and roll out to a 35 cm (14 in) circle. The coating will be very thin. Peel off top piece of wax paper, and place marzipan side lightly over cake. Peel off remaining layer of wax paper. Tuck bottom of marzipan coating into bottom of cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Dust with icing sugar or decorate as desired and serve.
Tester's notes: Betsy just asks her bakery for two un-iced cake layers. (Some bakeries will do this for you, but they might need some notice.) Or you can use a mix or bake your favourite plain vanilla cake. Keep in mind that almond pastes can vary, so try to choose a fairly soft one. I initially had a hard time incorporating the icing sugar, so I added a few drops of water to bring it together. I also despaired of ever getting the food colouring to blend in, but it just took some patient kneading to work it through completely. (It was quite a workout.) Be sure to roll out the marzipan coating out to the full 35 cm (14 in) -- it should be very thin and pliable at this point -- or it won't cover the cake, and once you've draped it over the cake, there's no going back.
This cake was very tender, the tastes were wonderful, and it looked very pretty when cut. Assembling the cake seemed intimidating at first -- and I'm generally hopeless at cake decorating -- but once I got underway, it was fine, and I felt rather proud of myself when it was all finished. One of my cake layers was a bit smooshy -- it didn't release completely from the pan -- but small flaws were covered nicely by the marzipan.
Fruit salad and lemon sauce
60 ml (1/4 cup) pineapple juice, drained from the can of pineapple, if using
Juice of one lemon about 60 ml (4 tbsp)
75 ml (1/3 cup) white sugar
about 1.4 l (6 cups) fruits of your choice, chopped
In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, beat eggs. Add pineapple juice, lemon juice and sugar and whisk thoroughly. Place over low-medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool.
Place fruit in a large serving bowl, and drizzle with sauce.
Taster's notes: The sauce is lovely -- rich but refreshing. Make sure to keep the heat down or you will "cook" the eggs. For the fruit salad, I went with just plain pineapple, which is a favourite at my house, but Anna's family prefers a mix of apples, pineapple and bananas, maybe with some mini-marshmallows for the kids (though they can get mushy quickly, so she suggests adding them at the last minute) or some maraschino cherries for garnish. You can really do a lot with this versatile sauce. (Anna sometimes puts it on baked chicken breasts in the last minutes of cooking and tops with almonds.)