Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hop, Hop Hop

I can't believe Easter is right around the corner.

The trees were in full bloom at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens this week!

This time of year always seems to fly by for me. I am typically on the workout wagon starting around the New Year, for better or for worse, since bikini season is right around the corner. As a result, I am usually steering clear of the sweets for as long as possible right about now - that two-piece fitting just right means too much to carelessly binge on too many bon-bons!

Come Easter Sunday, though, you better watch out - there is a box of Tagalongs with my name on it (truth: they taste even better when you have waited weeks to open the box!) and many, many dark chocolate bunnies to eat, too :)

Source: via Kim on Pinterest

Ever since I can remember, our family gathers around a big feast for Brunch on Easter Sunday. We put aside the Easter dresses and bonnets (I only wish bonnets were still in style for a grown gal ... though I noticed last year that the Buckhead "Ladies Who Lunch" definitely wear big hats to Mass on this special day!) in exchange for cozier warm weather clothing.

We sip cooled beverages (hello, Mimosas!) and enjoy deviled eggs, sliced ham, pineapple and cheese casserole, salads and almost too much more to list out. Usually, if we don't fall asleep napping first, we can also then enjoy a lazy afternoon walk to give our full tummies a break. Forget Thanksgiving - I think I might prefer the casserole heaven of Easter Brunch!

While family is at the core of Easter for me, food is a close second as you might be able to tell, and cooking together with family is no exception. A few years ago, I offered to bake the big dessert (where did we find room for it after that meal?!) on Easter morning, and picked out a cake worthy of the day. I got to splurge my own sweet tooth while also indulging the side of me who loves to bake for others, a side that often gets squelched with said bikini-goal-mindsets. This cake, though, was full of healthy bananas, fresh raspberries and a bright lemon flavor that combined together in a decadent-yet-"light" confection.

I look forward to making this cake again one Easter morning soon to come, and hope that you, too, can enjoy this and your own Easter traditions coming up! Happy Easter Season, everyone!

Banana-Raspberry Cake with Lemon Frosting
Via Cooking Light 

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350°. To prepare the cake, coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust each pan with 1 1/2 teaspoons flour.

Place granulated sugar and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon 1 3/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Combine buttermilk, banana, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (mix after each addition just until blended).

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake cake at 350° for 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Peel off wax paper. Cool layers completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, combine cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, rind, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and dash of salt in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat).

Place 1 cake layer on a plate, and spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Arrange raspberries in a single layer over frosting, and top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Celebrate with Hershey's Bunny Trail. In exchange for sharing my own Easter memories and tips, I received a (glorious) custom-made Easter basket from Hershey's, stuffed full of my favorite Hershey's products! Thank you Hershey's for making this Easter that much more fun!