This year it is difficult to be writing about spring and baking cookies for Easter. It is not the snowflakes outside nor the cold temperatures, it is the lament I feel deep inside my soul thinking about how many times our family prepared for a “joyful” Easter when we all gathered together at my mother’s house, never thinking there would come a day that did not happen.
When the crocuses popped and with Holy Week upon us, I knew it was time to shop for new clothes and shoes for our annual Easter celebration at the home of my mother’s best friend in Winthrop.
Although my mother’s friend was not a blood relative, we always called her our aunt. She was very close to us all. Who but someone considered family would create the most amazing Easter egg hunt on the planet? I still get excited when I think of the joy I felt when I popped open an egg and discovered a small sweet treat, a nickel or penny. We always enjoyed a breakfast featuring scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh orange juice and my favorite, coffee cake.
My mom’s pal wasn’t typically a baker, but this coffee cake made her shine. My sisters Audrey, Adrienne, Alisa and I sat for the traditional Easter picture each year while my brothers Anthony and Peter horsed around and then looked for Easter eggs.
Throughout the years, we carried forward the tradition of dressing our children in new
clothes and hosting Easter egg hunts. Now that my mother and her best friend are no longer with us and all our children have grown, we tweaked the schedule for an Easter brunch and reduced the number of eggs, but we made their discovery much more challenging. The cousins still enjoy being together, getting dressed up and enjoying delicious food.
I am more than excited to welcome my dad home from Florida to continue our tradition of baking Pizzagaina together. There are times I wonder what it would be like if food was not such an integral part of our family holiday celebrations, but I just love the idea of preparing all these wonderful dishes and sharing them with my family.
Just like the flowers blooming, how we love the harbinger of spring, our family Easter celebration brimming with our favorites: family and food and soulful memories of our own childhoods.
SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
1 C butter, softened
2 C sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 C (16 oz.) sour cream
3 T ground cinnamon
3/4 C chopped walnuts
3/4 C sugar
In a large bowl, cream butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with sour cream, beating just enough after each addition to keep batter smooth.
Spoon half of batter into a greased 10-inch tube pan.
Topping: Combine cinnamon, nuts and sugar; sprinkle half over batter in pan. Repeat with remaining batter and sprinkle remaining sugar, cinnamon and nut mix over top of cake.
Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 20 minutes before removing cake from pan.