The Easter eggs dangling from forsythia branches are like a virtual family reunion across time and space. I would not want to trade them for any Fabergé eggs in the world. The oldest of these hollowed out eggs were painted by my mother’s cousin when she was a young girl in the 1950s. She lived with my mother and her family and that’s how they ended up in my mother’s possession.
When I was a child, every Easter my mother put the eggs on pussy willow branches in a large vase, and I admired them every year. There were at least a dozen eggs back then but only three have survived my parents’ multiple moves, and then mine across the Atlantic.
The Easter eggs I painted with finger paint in kindergarten are from the late 1960s, with a tiny paper flower at the top that has my last name on it written by the kindergarten teacher to make sure every child they took their own painted eggs home. Mine clearly show that I wasn’t much of an artist already then.
The newest painted eggs are from the first Easter with my new American family in 2001. Our daughter, the artist in the family, was eleven years old at the time. I cherish those Easter eggs as much as the others because we only painted Easter eggs together once. Life became too busy after that, between boarding school and college, she wasn’t home much and now she is grown and has lived on her own for several years.
My other German Easter tradition is making Advocaat (Eierlikör). Oddly I only started this after moving to the United States. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I did not even like Advocaat back in Germany.
Advocaat is not just for drinking, it is also delicious on and in cakes. This year I made a classic sponge-type coffee cake that is baked in a Gugelhupf mold.
In Germany it’s a very quick and easy cake because you can buy Advocaat in every supermarket. I make my Advocaat from scratch so it’s a bit more involved. The good thing however, is that there is plenty of Advocaat left over afterwards to sip with the cake, or drizzle some over a slice. The Gugelhupf tastes even better the next day.
Advocaat Coffee Cake (Eierlikörkuchen)
5 large eggs
1¾ cup (200 g) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
Pinch of salt
1 cup (220 g) canola oil
1 cup (250 g) Advocaat (find the recipe here)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups + 3 tablespoons (8¾ ounces/250 g cake flour)
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a Gugelhopf form very well.
2. Beat the eggs, salt and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until thick, about 8 minutes. Add the canola oil in a steady stream while beating for 2 minutes. Add the Advocaat and the vanilla and beat for 2 more minutes.
3. Mix the flour and the baking powder in a separate bowl. Sift it onto the beaten eggs and gently incorporate it into the dough with a whisk until well combined and no traces of flour remain.
4. Pour the dough into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
Makes 16 servings