It was by happy coincidence that I came to host Easter brunch at my house the past few years. It’s something that I look forward to for weeks. Here’s how you can make the same brunch for your family next Easter, or any special spring occasion!
Farm Fresh Eggs
The first thing to keep in mind whenever you’re entertaining is to always start with the best ingredients. I arrived at my local farmers market at exactly 8:01 am on Saturday morning to pick up two dozen of the most beautiful greenish-bluish eggs. The yolks are a vibrant orange color. I cannot stress this enough: good eggs make a difference. People give me a hard time for paying $5 a carton for eggs. I think high quality, just-laid-this-morning eggs from beloved chickens are worth my $5.
For Easter dessert, I wanted something coconut-y but not TOO coconut-y. Just a kiss of coconut. I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe from King Arthur Flour for the base, then adapted my favorite vanilla frosting recipe to become delicious coconut frosting. This ended up tasting like a high-end wedding cake.
My brother was quiet after he took a bite. And another. And another. I was nervous. I asked what he thought. He said, “I think this is the best cake I’ve ever had.” He heartily accepted a quarter of the cake when he left, declaring this “The Good Cake.” Here’s the recipe:
Coconut Vanilla Cake (“The Good Cake”)
2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
4 large farm fresh eggs
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans.
2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
3) Add butter to the mixer and beat until it looks sandy.
4) Combine the milk and vanilla and add to the mixer. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Don’t forget to scrape the bowl as you go!
5) Crack eggs into a bowl. This way, you won’t accidentally get egg shells in your cake batter. With the mixer running on low, add eggs one at a time. Make sure each is incorporated before adding the next.
6) Pour batter into your prepared cake pans. Softly bang the bottom of the pans against the countertop to help settle the batter evenly in the pan.
7) Bake for 25 minutes for 9″ layers or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
8) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.
9) Frost with Coconut Frosting (recipe follows). Carefully pat the reserved coconut onto the top and sides of the frosted cake. It should be noted that I added a bit of edible glitter to my coconut beforehand to make it extra pretty, but this isn’t necessary.
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3 teaspoons coconut extract
3 tablespoons milk
1 bag sweetened, shredded coconut
1) Beat softened butter until fluffy.
2) Slowly incorporate powdered sugar.
3) Beat in coconut extract and milk. Always make sure frosting is the consistency of your liking! Add more milk if needed.
4) Stir in about 2/3 of the bag of coconut. Reserve the rest to pat on the cake for garnish.
This shot of brunch prep makes me happy. I was so organized this year and had everything ready to go cooking show style which really expedited the brunch process. I browned the sausage in the electric skillet, then used the skillet to make the breakfast potatoes.
The Rose Table’s Breakfast Potatoes
1.5 pounds potatoes (red and new potatoes)
1 Spanish (white) onion, diced
Good herbed sea salt
Fistful garden chives (about half a store-bought container), chopped fine
8 oz quark
1) Preheat electric skillet to 350 degrees.
2) Once preheated, drop in 2 tbsp butter and about the same of vegetable oil.
3) Add potatoes and coat well with butter and oil. Grind herbed sea salt about the potatoes, about 6 grinds.
4) Let potatoes cook for 10 minutes, then add the onion. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are crispy on the outside but fork-tender on the inside when pierced.
5) Sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve with Quark, a popular potato addition in Germany. I can usually find it in the yogurt aisle. If you can’t find quark, serve with sour cream.
My good friend and foodie Eric taught me how to make this next dish. He showed up with something similar to my birthday brunch last year and I promptly begged for his method.
Chicken Sausage and Gouda Egg Cups
3 chicken sausages (mine had artichoke and parmesan as well)
12 farm fresh eggs
8 oz Gouda cheese (cheddar would also be delicious)
Fistful garden chives, chopped
1) Slice the sausages into coins, then cut each coin into quarters. Brown the sausage in a pat of butter until golden brown. (Remember, I did this in the same skillet I used later for the potatoes. Yum!)
2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Vigorously spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
3) Grate the Gouda.
4) Beat eggs in a large bowl. Grind sea salt twelve times (one grind per egg) into bowl.
5) Add chopped chives, grated cheese, and sausage bites. Stir well.
6) Ladle into twelve muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife in the center will come out clean.
The crown jewel of brunch was the Belgian waffle bar. I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe for overnight yeast Belgian waffles and my goodness, they’re good. If you like real Belgian waffles, you will love these. The best part? You get to make the ridiculously simple batter the night before, so all you have to do is heat up the iron in the morning! I whipped a generous amount of vanilla bean cream (beat 2 cups organic whipping cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 2 Bourbon or Madagascar vanilla beans until soft peaks form) and offered chocolate chips, cinnamon butter, three different syrups (blueberry, raspberry, maple) and an array of fruit so that guests could fix waffles to their liking.
King Arthur Flour’s Yeast Belgian Waffles
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
2 large eggs
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1) Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, leaving room for expansion; the mixture will bubble and grow.
2) Stir to combine; it’s OK if the mixture isn’t perfectly smooth.
3) Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour; the mixture will begin to bubble. You can cook the waffles at this point, or refrigerate the batter overnight to cook waffles the next day.
4) Preheat your waffle iron. Spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray, and pour 2/3 to 3/4 cup batter (or the amount recommended by the manufacturer) onto the center of the iron. Close the lid and bake for the recommended amount of time, until the waffle is golden brown. It took me 5-6 minutes.
5) Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200°F oven. Serve with berries and whipped cream, if desired.
I served them rather haphazardly on my marble slab. Forgive me; we were hungry.
Also present at brunch:
Dress fruit up by arranging it on your favorite platter. I like to keep fruit in groups rather than mix it all together. In this case, it served two purposes: guests could help themselves to fruit on the side OR use the fruit to top their Belgian waffles.
Mom brought her delicious orange cake. It’s incredibly moist and just tastes…happy!
My sister-in-law Cathy sent over this home baked mixed berry scones. Aren’t they cute in their little Easter basket?
My sister-in-law Heather brought over maple-glazed bacon, which was a huge help because my oven was otherwise occupied.
Happy Easter from The Rose Table (and family)!
The Rose Table