With one day left until the big day, I hope those of you that celebrate have your Easter menus all ready to go! If you’re still searching for a great dessert this Pasca, which is a Romanian Easter cake, would be perfect.

I went into this a little intimidated. It looks and sounds far more complicated than it really was. Although I do have to say that the recipe (which was the only Pasca recipe I could find) was complete crap. I ended up adding almost 3 cups of flour to the dough so hopefully I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect all the changes I had to make. If you have a favorite sweet dough recipe – like cinnamon roll dough – use it! Just add a touch of lemon zest and you’re good to go.

I started planning my week of Easter goodies a few weeks back and this recipe reminded me of something but I just couldn’t figure out what. As soon as I started braiding the dough I went “OMG! It’s like a giant cream cheese danish from Starbucks!” And it totally was. My only complaint was that I let the dough rise too much before adding the filling. Next time I won’t skimp on the lovely raisin studded cream cheese.

Pasca (Romanian Easter Cake)
Ingredients
For the dough:
  • 1 cup milk warm
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 4 to 5 cups flour
For the filling:
  • 1 8 ounce brick of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raisins
For the egg wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine milk and yeast. Allow to sit until foamy. Using a wooden spoon stir in eggs, sugar, butter, oil, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Add in flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. It should be soft but not sticky. Put down on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Spray another large bowl with oil and place ball of dough in, turning to coat in oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
  2. When dough has risen, divide into 2 equal pieces. Lightly spray a 9 inch springform pan with oil. Take one of the dough pieces and roll it out to fit in the springform. (I found it easiest to put the dough in the pan and use my fingertips to spread the dough, like you would with focaccia). With the other half of the dough, divide it into 3 equal pieces. Roll those pieces out into long thin ropes and braid them all together. Once it’s braided, gently move it to the springform, braiding the end together. Allow to rise just high enough for you to put filling in, 30 - 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400.
  4. To make filling, beat cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla together until the cream cheese is smooth. Fold in raisins. Gently spoon into the bread.
  5. Whisk together egg and water. Brush the mixture over the top of the braided bread. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until deeply brown and it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan shortly after and allow to cool on a wire rack.


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Easter’s fast approaching so I wanted to get some fun dessert ideas up for anyone who’s needing them.

I love, love, love these coconut cupcakes. Toasted coconut is one of my favorite cupcake decorations and to turn it into a nest with Cadbury eggs in it? Perfection. You don’t have to use Cadbury eggs though – the malted milk ball ones are great or even the little egg-shaped gum.

I went ahead and did a coconut cupcake but I think the toasted coconut tastes great with a plain vanilla cake too. The frosting is coconutless but it’s flavored with almond and vanilla and goes amazingly with the toasted coconut up top.

Coconut Cupcakes
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
  • 3/4 pound 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar sifted
For the toasted coconut:
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle toasted coconut (below) on top. Top with egg-shaped candy of choice.
To make toasted cupcake:
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spread coconut onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Towards the end watch carefully because it will go from golden to burnt very quickly.


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Do me a favor – don’t even make these if you’re on a diet (like someone around here!). They didn’t last an hour. That big bowl. Gone in an hour. I’m sure it would’ve been closer to 30 minutes if we’d just had some mustard in the house.

Along with being ridiculously good, they were also so simple. I used my bread machine to make the dough so if you choose to go that route, just follow your manufacturers instructions. The only “difficult” part is getting them out of the baking soda/water quickly enough. They lose shape very fast once dipped in the water so watch carefully.

Like I said, so good. Spencer and I decided these will be added to our football food lists next season and they gotta be good to make that list!

(Oh, what I have pictures is half the recipe. I knew if I made the whole recipe, I’d eat those too.)

Pretzel Bites
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water about 110 F
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 package 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used instant)
  • 3 ounces 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled just slightly
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. On low speed, mix the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and 4 1/2 cups of the flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
  3. Spray a bowl with cooking spray (or oil with with vegetable oil), add the dough and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spray two baking sheets liberally with cooking spray.
  5. Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring about 22 inches. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches of about 10-15 for 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and place the pretzel bites on the prepared baking sheets, making sure they aren’t touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating.
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Oh blueberry muffins, how I love you.

You probably won’t be shocked at all to hear that when I decided to make blueberry muffins, the first thing I googled was “starbucks blueberry muffin”. I have a problem with their muffins obviously. I go searching for a copycat recipe every few months and each time I’m shocked that there isn’t one. So I’m working my way through recipes, changing things here and there to see if I can get close to my beloved Starbucks muffin.

This one was pretty close. The taste was right on but it just wasn’t as light and fluffy. I’m thinking maybe cake flour next time? We loved them though and it gets bonus points for only making 8 muffins. I halve just about every recipe I do so it was nice to not have to do any math.

Blueberry Muffins
from AllRecipes
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

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Bananas are a favorite around here and most of the time I can’t buy enough, but every few weeks we all get burned out on bananas and a bunch or 2 just sits on the counter until I finally turn it into banana bread. That happened this week, only I wasn’t into the whole banana bread idea.

This cake was one of the best cakes I’ve made. It was almost like banana bread except not as dense as a bread and with caramelized bananas on top. I can only imagine how amazing it would have been with some fresh whipped cream on top.

Banana Upside Down Cake
Ingredients
For the topping:
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 large ripe bananas. peeled cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
For the cake:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons 3/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons milk
Instructions
To make the topping:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until butter melts and mixture is well blended. Pour into 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Spread to coat bottom of pan. Pour maple syrup over sugar mixture. Place banana slices in concentric circles on nuts, overlapping slightly and covering bottom.
To make the cake:
  1. Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl to blend. Beat sugar and butter in another medium bowl until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk in 3 additions. Spoon batter over bananas. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack. Run knife around pan sides. Cool cake on rack 30 minutes. Place plate over pan; invert cake. Let stand 3 minutes, then gently lift off pan. Serve warm with whipped cream.
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