by Jolene Lamb, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
I’ll be hosting another big family dinner on Easter. I might have mentioned in previous articles that when I say big, I mean large, like 40 people! My husband has a big family, and they live close by, so it’s pretty easy for all of us to gather together for Sunday dinner. I enjoy hosting our winter holiday dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I also love getting together in the spring when the weather is pleasant. So here we are, and I’m hoping these warm sunny days continue so we can spend time outside after dinner while the kids hunt for hidden eggs filled with candy and small toys.
Since warmer spring weather is here, I’ll incorporate more seasonal spring flavors in not only the meal, but also dessert. When I think spring sweets, I envision light fruit based desserts.
One dessert I definitely have to make is Aunt Donna’s Banana Salad. What the heck is banana salad you ask? I wondered the same thing when I first heard of it several years ago. My in-laws kept raving about Aunt Donna bringing her delicious banana salad to dinner. In my head I pictured bananas and greens, but I was way off.
I asked my in-laws, what is banana salad, and basically they told me that describing it will only sound gross. Okay, now I was really curious. Banana salad is made from bananas, peanuts, vinegar, eggs and sugar. That does not sound like the makings of a delicious dessert. At that dinner, I had a bowl of it and absolutely fell in love with it. My sister-in-law, mother-in-law and I argued who would get to take the leftovers home! I had to get the recipe. Donna was kind enough to share it with me, although it took me a few times testing it to get it to taste as delicious as hers. With a few adjustments, I’ve got it down and I’ll be making it for the family Sunday.
Citrus is a light spring flavor that I always incorporate into my Easter sweets. Lemon is my go-to, being one of the most popular citrus flavors. A quick scan of the internet yields an array of lemon desserts. One of my favorites is a classic lemon poppy seed cake. I always use real butter in my cakes, it adds the best flavor. Also a combination of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest gives the cake just the right lemon flavor. Never use bottled lemon juice; it is too sour for a cake. To keep the cake moist, I brush the baked cake with a lemon simple syrup. With the addition of poppy seeds, this cake has a nice nutty flavor to balance the sweetness. It also freezes well and can be made in advance.
Strawberry shortcake is another classic; a sweet, light, fruit dessert that I often make in the summer when strawberries are in season. However, as soon as the temps climb and the flowers start to bloom, I find that it’s hard to wait until summer to bring on the strawberry desserts. For Easter, I like to change up the presentation of traditional strawberry shortcake by transforming it into a roulade, or roll cake. It’s actually pretty easy, and with a dusting of powdered sugar and a row of sliced berries on top, it makes for a pretty display on the dessert table.
fresh, ripe bananas
chopped salted peanuts
Custard (make this the day before to allow to chill)
3 level tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 egg, well beaten (room temperature)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons white vinegar
For the custard, make a paste with milk and flour in a heavy sauce pan. Add the egg and salt. Cook until very thick. Add the butter. After the custard has cooled slightly, mix in the vinegar, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Corse chop the peanuts.
Layer sliced bananas, custard and peanuts in glass bowl. Repeat until all product is used and top final layer with peanuts. Serve Immediately. Leftovers will only hold for a day or two. After that, bananas will brown and custard becomes watery.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Servings: One 10 inch Bundt cake, about 16 servings
FOR THE CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup buttermilk
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 gently packed tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar, plus more for the pan
3 large eggs
FOR THE SYRUP
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
FOR THE GLAZE
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and dust with sugar.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
With the mixer on low speed, beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk mixture. Beat in another quarter of the flour mixture, then another third of the milk mixture. Repeat with another quarter of the flour mixture and the remaining milk mixture. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and give a quick mix with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for ten minutes on a rack.
While the cake cools, make the syrup. Combine the water and granulated sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Invert the warm cake onto the rack. Slip a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil under the rack to catch all the drips from the syrup. Gradually brush the hot syrup over the cake, letting it soak in (a little syrup will run off, but go slow so that most of it is absorbed). Allow the cake to cool completely, about one hour. When the cake is cool, carefully transfer it to a serving platter.
To make the glaze: stir the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl, whisking until completely smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar if necessary to make a thick, opaque glaze (it should be the consistency of honey or molasses). Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let the glaze harden before slicing and serving the cake, about 15 minutes. The cake will keep nicely for 3 days covered at room temp. Or freeze before glazing to store longer. Defrost cake at room temperature. Glaze before serving.
Strawberry Shortcake Roulade
Serves: 12 servings
FOR THE CAKE
5 egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 egg whites, room temperature
FOR THE FILLING
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12×17 rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with butter. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, oil, milk, vanilla extract, two-thirds cup of sugar, and lemon zest. In a small bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the wet just until combined.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites on med-high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the remaining one-third cup of sugar and continue beating on med-high speed until stiff peaks form (another 3 to 4 minutes).
Gently fold egg whites into the batter until fully incorporated.
Pour batter onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the top of the cake is light brown. Let cool completely.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
In a small bowl combine the strawberries, one tablespoon of sugar and lemon zest.
Turn the roulade out on to the paper so its lining paper is on top, then carefully peel off the paper. Spread the roulade with the whipped cream, leaving a border of about an inch all the way around the edges. With one of the shortest edges facing you, make a cut along it with a sharp knife, going about half way through the sponge. This will help to start the rolling up. Scatter strawberries over the top of the whipped cream. Now roll this cut edge over tightly to start with and use the paper to help continue the tight rolling, by pulling it away from you as you roll. Don’t worry if the roulade cracks – that is quite normal and all part of its charm. Dust with powdered sugar and top with a single row of sliced or fanned out strawberry slices if desired.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.
Cooking or food questions? Email email@example.com.