Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Around the World Continues

A continuation of my previous post on Easter traditions.


Simnel Cake
This traditional Easter Cake was introduced to Ireland centuries ago by English settlers. It features a layer of almond paste baked into the center and a thick layer of almond icing on top. It's also decorated with eleven small marzipan balls representing eleven of the twelve apostles. Judas is missing because he betrayed Jesus.

2 generous cups sultanas
1-1/2 generous cups currants
1-1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup glacé cherries, washed and chopped
Scant 1/2 cup ground almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Generous 1/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 sticks butter
1-1/2 cups light soft brown sugar
6 eggs, beaten
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon mix spice
1 large or 2 small cooking apples - grated
Almond Paste
4 cups ground almonds
2 cups caster/superfine sugar
2 small eggs
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
Drop of almond essence

1. Line the base and sides of a 9-inch round or 8-inch square pan with brown paper and grease-proof paper
2. Mix the dried fruit, nuts, ground almonds, lemon zest and orange zest. Add the whiskey and leave for 1 hour to soak in
3. In the meantime, make the almond paste. Sieve the sugar and mix with the ground almonds. Beat the eggs, add the whiskey, and 1 drop of almond essence, then add to the other ingredients and mix to a stiff paste.
4. Sprinkle your work surface with confectioner's sugar, turn out the almond paste and work lightly until smooth. Set aside
5. To make the cake, cream the butter until very soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy
6. Add the eggs bit by bit, beating well between each addition so that the mixture doesn't curdle
7. Mix the spice with the flour and fold in gently
8. Combine the grated apple and fruit and then stir gently but thoroughly into the cake mixture (don't beat again as you will toughen the cake)
9. Put half the cake mixture into the prepared pan
10. Roll out half the almond paste into an 8-1/2 inch round. Place this on top of the cake mixture in the pan. Then cover this with the remaining cake mixture. Make a slight hollow in the center and dip your hand in water; pat over the surface of the cake to ensure the top is smooth when cooked.
11. Bake at 325F for one hour, the reduce the heat to 300 and bake for another two hours, or until the cake is cooked. (A skewer inserted in the middle should come out perfectly clean). Leave cake to cool in the pan
12. When cake is thoroughly cooled, remove from pan.
13. Roll two thirds of the remaining almond paste into a 9-inch round. Brush the cake with a little lightly beaten egg white and top with the almond paste.
14. Roll the last of the almond paste into eleven balls about the size of a walnut. Score the top of the cake in 1-1/2 inch squares and brush with beaten egg or yolk. Stick the balls around the outer edge of the top and brush with beaten egg. Cover the sides of the cake with a strip of foil and then place under the grill in a pre-heated 425F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly golden.

Easter dinner is often made up of baked ham, sausage, roast veal, roast pork, roast turkey or goose as well as stuffed cabbage. The traditional Easter soup, hard-cooked eggs, sauces and relishes including the traditional Easter relish of beets and horseradish called cwikla.

Easter Soup (Zurek Wielkanocny)
This is also known as a White Borscht

1/2 lb. soup vegetables (carrot, parsnip, celery root, leek)
1/2 lb. kielbasa
1 lb. potatoes
2 c. ryemeal sour
1 rounded T. flour
garlic clove

Mix 3/4 cup rye flour with 2 c. pre-boiled warm water. Pour into a jar or crockery bowl, cover with cheesecloth and let stand in a warm place for 4-5 days.

Cook a bouillon from soup vegetables and 6 c. water.
Shortly before straining, add the sausage. Peel potatoes, cut into large cubes and cook in boiling lightly salted bouillon.
Mix flour with a few T. water, add to the bouillon along with the ryemeal sour, sliced sausage, and garlic crushed with salt, and bring the soup to a boil. Serve with hard boiled eggs.

Easter Babka

1 lb. wheat flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 c. butter
5 egg yolks
1 c. milk
2 oz. yeast
1/2 flat t. salt
2 oz. raisins
1 T. finely chopped candied orange peel, grated lemon peel (scalded with hot water)
1 egg to brush the babka
butter and bread crumbs to grease the cake form

Optional Glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. boiling water

Mix powdered sugar with lemon juice and hot water.

Mix the yeast with 1 t. sugar and a few T. warm milk; cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to grow.
Add salt to dry sifted flour, pour in the yeast and the rest of the lukewarm milk, gently mix and leave for a few minutes.
When it has risen, add egg yolks mixed with sugar and grated lemon peel and raisins and mix in a blender until smooth (about 10 min.)
Still mixing, gradually add melted, still-warm butter, then add orange peel and raisins.
When the dough has completely absorbed the butter, cover it with a towel and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour.
When it doubles in volume, put it in a tall hollow-centered cake form, greased with butter and sprinkled with bread crumbs. The form should be filled a bit less than half of its height. Cover the pan with a towel.
When the dough has almost filled the form, brush the top with an egg mixed with 1 t. milk and put into a moderate oven.
Bake for about 40-50 minutes at 360 degrees.
When cooled, the cake may be glazed, although it is often served without glaze for Easter.

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