I married into a family with regimented holiday traditions, which is pretty much the opposite of my side of the family. J and his mom have certain activities and specific foods that correlate with various holidays, and there are specific times those activities happen. J must have hot cross buns on Palm Sunday every year, and julekage the week before Christmas. Julekage is basically like a giant hot cross bun with a better frosting to bread ratio. I mean, if you have to eat bread with weird neon candied fruit, it’s better to drown it in icing. I’m not really a fan of either bread concoction, or fruitcake, for that matter.
I’ll hop back from that rabbit trail, and back to Easter food traditions.
The Saturday before Easter we dye eggs at our house: my mother-in-law, J and I along with my dad and sister (well, on the years they’ve been in town anyway). Sometimes friends join us. Coloring eggs is not just for kids. Historically our gathering has been all adults.
With my mother-in-law, J and I all buying kits, we usually have way too many (and an abundance of egg dippers — I keep collecting them each year). But, it always seems to work out when we’re sitting at the table with the group; somehow too many kits means nobody is getting frustrated sitting and waiting for me to move my egg out of the red dye when it’s already been soaking for twenty minutes.
This year I’m trying something new; mixing food coloring, vinegar and water based on an article I found in the latest Food Network magazine. I’m kind of excited to try something different, and it gives me an excuse to use food coloring that gathers dust in my spice cabinet until the next time I make Christmas cookies or get crazy enough to try whipping up petit fours again. Plus, I already know my mother-in-law will have at least one kit she brings.
I like my eggs to get the richest deepest hues possible. Simple. I get bored as I sit and wait for my egg to chill in a cup forever. J likes his as complicated as he can make them, and every year he makes a Packer-themed egg. My mother-in-law wants to have all the colors and kinds of kits represented (Glitter eggs, anyone? Or marble-swirl?). My sister starts out detailed, and by the end, as her attention rapidly wanes, usually tries to make the ugliest egg as she mixes varying colors. It usually turns out some bland shade of mauve-y brown. Dad usually is the first to break out the crayon and start drawing on the egg; his usually have witty messages.
I made J break with his mom’s tradition of leaving the eggs out at room temperature. Marie puts hers in a basket on her table as a decoration. I think that’s a waste of a good hard-boiled egg.
We stick ours back in the fridge. Well, except the ones with any glitter or other crazy kind of egg dye kit. Those can sit out; we don’t eat those.
Otherwise, they get turned into rainbow deviled eggs the next day. Or eaten plain, since I don’t really care for deviled eggs; I make really pretty ones, but I don’t actually eat them. Or J converts them to egg salad sandwiches on wheat bread.
Every Easter breakfast, we have beehive coffee cake. Sweet, creamy custard stuffed coffee cake with carmelized honey almonds on the top. It’s an instant sugar rush. It’s tradition. I like it better than hot cross buns. But, still every year, I can’t decide if this is breakfast or dessert. Do I like it? Do I not? And yet, we’ve eaten it every Easter we’ve spent together — all 12 of them. Without fail, every year I get excited thinking about it. Then, I eat it. And wonder to myself, “why was I excited about this?”
J’s mom started getting a beehive coffee cake from Hans’ Bakery in Anoka back in the ’70s. After Hans’ changed ownership (and their menu) in the ’90s, my in-laws were out of luck on the beehive coffee cake for a few years. And then, they discovered Jack’s Bakery in Brooklyn Park. Easter tradition saved! After J’s dad died, J would order one for us and one for his mom every Easter. Then, a few years ago, Jack’s Bakery closed.
Sad pandas. Easter tradition up in the air.
Then, we learned that Hans’ in Anoka reopened and brought back the beehive coffee cake. My problem: I didn’t like Hans’ as well as Jack’s.
All that leads to the new tradition: J bakes his own beehive cake (and shares with his mom). The one pictured above was last year’s experiment. We didn’t like the custard recipe instructions; the custard ended up not mixing smoothly, hence the bumpy photo. Tasted good. Texture, however, was a problem for me.
We’re trying out a new recipe this year, and hoping it can be the new thing. Though, in looking at last year’s recipe and this year’s, either way you slice it — these coffee cakes are lot of work.