Eggscellent

For as long as I can remember, I have associated Easter with brightly coloured eggs. When we were children, my brothers and I would decorate blown hens’ eggs in the weeks before Easter.  For several weeks before Easter,  instead of cracking eggs open to use them in cooking or baking, a hole would be pierced in either end of the egg (a larger hole in the ‘flatter’ end), and the egg white and yolk would be blown out through the holes.  The resulting blown eggs would be washed and dried before being decorated.  The eggs might be painted, pasted with cut-outs, drizzled with coloured wax – anything and everything was allowed and encouraged as far as decorating techniques went.  The finished eggs would be hung with a piece of thread on the cut branches of forsythia or other flowering shrubs, and they would decorate the house during the Easter festival.

In the run-up to Easter, the shops would start selling brightly coloured hard-boiled eggs – you would be able to find them right next to the fresh eggs, in virtually every store!  They were always looking so perfect and shiny – as though they had been laquered.  Maybe they had been???  Those store-bought eggs didn’t make it into our house very often.  Instead, my brothers and I would help mum dye hard boiled hens’ eggs on Good Friday.  It’s a tradition I still keep alive, all these many years later!

There are a number of ways to dye the eggs using various natural vegetable dyes such as beetroot and spinach juice, or dried onion skins.  An easier and foolproof way, is to use  ready-made egg dyes.  One of my sisters-in-law sent me a packet this year – thank you Veronika!!

It’s best to dye the eggs just after they have been boiled and while they are still warm.  I put all my eggs into one pan (no, not into one basket!! 🙂 ) and covered them with cold water.  When they started to boil I set the timer for six minutes.

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While the eggs were cooking, I prepared the dyes.

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The packet contained five colour papers:  red, orange, green, blue and yellow – a rainbow of colours!  🙂  Since yellow does not really change the colour of brown eggs, I added that in with the orange.  Into each cup were put two tablespoons of white vinegar, 250ml of boiling water, and one dye-paper.

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Once the eggs had finished cooking, I briefly ran them under the cold tap, before they went into the dye bath, one at a time for each colour.

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They emerged totally transformed!!

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Bit by bit my egg box was filling up with wonderfully coloured eggs!  Below are the last four:

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This is a picture of the dye I used for this batch of eggs.  You should be able to find something like that on one of the internet mail-order sites or in your grocery store?

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To make them shine, the eggs can be rubbed with a little bit of olive oil.

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Baking a cake in the shape of a lamb is another Easter tradition in my family.  Some years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit my grandmother’s baking tin.  Nowadays, if I am home for Easter, I will bake at least one cake in that mould.  For the cake recipe, I looked at Gaston Lenotre’s Desserts and Pastries.  It’s a wonderful book, full of very precise and easy to follow recipes.  I used his Genoise recipe, a very light sponge cake.

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The ingredients are very simple:  eggs, sugar, flour, butter and vanilla flavoured sugar!

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Three eggs are mixed with 78g of sugar and the vanilla flavoured sugar in a heat proof bowl – I used the bowl of my stand mixer for this.  The bowl is then set over boiling water, and the eggs are whisked for one minute – no more!  I then put the bowl on the mixer, and whisked the egg/sugar mixture on high speed for two minutes, and on medium low speed for another five minutes or a little longer, until it was cool and very white and thick.

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While all the whisking was going on, I brushed both halves of the mould very carefully with melted butter, and gave them a light dusting of flour, to prevent the finished cake from sticking to the mould.  I also melted 23g of butter for the cake mix.

When the egg mixture was ready, I sifted 78g of flour over it and folded it in gently.  Then I added the melted and cooled butter, and folded that in too.  The finished mix was poured into the mould, and the cake was baked in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes.  For the first cake I had set the oven to the wrong function (regular convection rather than fan-assisted), so the cake did not turn out from the mould as easily as it should have.

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I baked another one right away, using the fan-assist setting, and it turned out near perfect!

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And here they are – decorated with a dusting of icing sugar and some tiny bells hung with red ribbon around their necks, and surrounded by some dyed eggs!

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Do you have a special Easter tradition?  Would you would like to share it with me?

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8 thoughts on “Eggscellent

  1. Your story of dying the eggs took me back to my childhood, many years ago. We had Russian neighbours and they made Easter eggs that were truly works of art.

    In Italy, the cakes are shaped like doves, for Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Andreas – A year ago today we left Saint Chinian. During the past 6 months we have been remembering things we were doing in and around Le Puits last year. We have now been home for 12 months but I can still relive some of our adventures by reading your Blog. Your most recent delicious dinner was inspiring. I never get tired of thinking about French cooking including the markets, variety, and people selling. And you asked for book suggestions. I have two cook books, both of which I found in our local library, which I am savouring at the moment. You may already know about them:

    A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson. The photography is superb (her husband) and the recipes are mostly fairly straightforward with “normal” ingredients.
    I have so far made Potatoes a la Lyonnaise; Roasted Sausages with Red Wine; and have several others flagged.

    In a French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis. No photography in this one but she writes quite visually about the joys of an ex-pat living in Normandy. She is probably best known for her Paris cooking school (and book) “On Rue Tatin”.
    I have made Jacqueline’s Apple Cake (absolutely superb); would love to try her recipe for Beef Cheeks but do not think I will find any in my supermarket!; and have taken her tips on serving cheese to heart.

    I guess I had better get reading and cooking before they are due at the Library.

    Murray and I never get tired of telling people that “nous avons passé six mois dans le sud de la France”.

    Au revoir – Deidre

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Deidre,
      Wonderful to hear from you, and to know that my blog brings back happy memories!! I have been making many dishes using beef cheeks this past winter – I can get them from my favourite butcher, if I order them in advance. You might find that your supermarket butcher can order them in for you too. They are definitely worth the trouble!!
      Bon appetit!

      Like

    • Hi Pauline,
      thanks for your message – glad you enjoyed the cake!! It is still possible to find such moulds, although the new moulds are not as finely detailed as the old ones: have a look here. Sometimes you can find an old version like mine on ebay in Germany.

      Liked by 1 person

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