For Easter this year, I decided to create a special surprise. If we put Jesus and the religious aspects of Easter aside for a second (no one puts Jesus in the corner), the commercial side of easter is all bunnies and eggs. A strange combination to be sure, seeing as how rabbits, like all mammals, don’t lay eggs. It also begs the perennial Easter question: which came first, the rabbit or the egg?
But I digress. Sweet treats for Easter are often dressed up as eggs, with chocolate eggs, plastic eggs filled with candies, and the famous Cadbury creme egg. I decided to make a new addition to the egg-shaped desserts with my pastel-colored Easter Cake Eggs. I was inspired by the brownie egg at La Receta de la Felicidad and the Jello egg at Just A Taste and their ingenious method of using a drained eggshell to shape the dessert. Due to their tolerance for heat, you can even bake within the eggshell!
My twist was to change the cake and color the batter all of the pastel wonder that is Easter. I’ll tell you right now that when I went into this project I had no idea how time consuming and at times frustrating (with me cursing at cracked eggshells late into the night) this venture would be. The finished product was well worth the massive effort, but before you give it a try I want to save you from being surprised by the time and cool head required for this recipe.
My goal was to create a great shock for my friends when they discovered the contents of the eggs. The eggs only have a tiny pinhole in their tops, barely noticeable unless you’re looking for it, and a larger, yet discreet, hole on the bottom. If you deliver the eggs to your guests in the right way, they’ll think you’re strangely handing them a hard-boiled egg. Once they crack open the shell, watch the look on their faces as they realize their egg is instead filled with pink, blue, yellow, purple, or green cake.
The old idiom, “you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs,” came to my mind several times during the baking process of this recipe. Every time I accidentally smashed one of the delicate eggshells, especially after spending hours taking care not to break that shell on previous steps, that idiom popped into my head. So plan to break some eggs, and not the way the recipe calls for. I made a large batch of cake eggs, around 30, but there were another half-dozen eggs that sadly didn’t survive long enough to be filled with cake. If you want 12 eggs that look perfect after baking, you’re going to want to have two dozen eggs on hand.
The technique for draining the eggs can be used for other recipes, whether you choose to fill them with jello, melted chocolate, or anything else your mind can dream up. If you fill them with something that doesn’t need to be baked, make sure to give them an extra thorough rinse to get any raw egg cleaned out. The process of draining and cleaning the eggshells takes some time, especially while you’re still getting the feel for it, so I recommend preparing the eggshells a day ahead. Store the empty shells back in the egg carton, in the fridge, until you’re ready to fill them.
Once the cake batter is prepared and colored, the best way to get the batter inside the eggshells is with a piping bag and a medium round tip (though a ziptop bag with a corner snipped off will do in a pinch). Due to the bright colors, I used a few disposable piping bags so that I didn’t have to clean out my pastry bag between each batter color. I chose to fill each egg with just one color, but you can play around with layering multiple colors within an egg if you’re feeling adventurous.
After preparing your eggshells, the most difficult part of this recipe will be determining the proper amount of batter to put into each egg. This cake recipe has a healthy dose of both baking soda and baking powder, leading to a lot of leavening action going on in the oven. I played around with different amounts of batter and felt a little like Goldilocks: this one’s a bit too full, this one’s not full enough, then finally, this one’s just right. If you overfill the eggs, the batter will ooze out of the hole in the top, which in itself is not a problem. The trouble comes if that leaking batter cooks through and hardens, forming a cake plug. Then all of the pressure form the expanding cake will cause the egg to fissure. The cake will still taste good, but the surprise effect of an innocent looking egg will be lost. If you underfill the eggs, the batter will not expand enough to fill the eggshell and the cake will not perfectly take the shape of the egg. I found that filling each egg between 1/2 and 2/3 full with batter was the proper amount.
Once the cake is baked through and the eggs are out of the oven, clean off any batter that may have oozed out of the hole. If you let the cake fully cool, it will be harder to clean off the excess and more likely that you will break the shell in the attempt (trust me on this one). Just beware that the eggs will be VERY HOT when they come out of the oven, so use an oven mitt or tea towel to hold the egg while you clean it. The baked and cooled eggs can be stored back in their egg cartons in the refrigerator for a few days. Just remember which carton has cake eggs and which has raw eggs. There’s nothing like making a 3-egg omelette with two eggs and a lump of purple cake.
Speaking of omelettes, you may have noticed that the cake recipe only calls for 5 eggs, but makes enough batter to fill 36 eggshells. What to do with the other 31 eggs? Well you can definitely perfect that frittata recipe you’ve always been eyeing. As for me, I’m going to find a recipe for next week’s treat that’s heavy on the egg whites, yolks, or both.
These cake-filled eggs make a wonderful Easter dessert. If you serve them hole-side down, discovering the cake inside can be quite the surprise for your friends.
Preparing and filling the eggs is very time-intensive, so I recommend emptying and cleaning out the egg shells a day or two before you want to bake your cake eggs.
- 36 (3 dozen) large eggs, white or brown, plus more in case you break a few
- 2 1/2 cups (350 g) flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (171 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups (267 g) sugar, separated
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup milk
- Food dye: green, blue, pink, purple, and yellow
- Using a pin or needle, pierce a small hole in the top of each egg.
- In the bottom of each egg, pierce another hole and peel away a small piece of shell until the hole is about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) across.
- Blow through the top pinhole, forcing the egg white and yolk out through the larger hole into a bowl. The egg white will come out first, followed by the yolk, and then any remaining white. If you get good at discerning when the yolk is coming out, you can separate the eggs into whites and yolks with the blowing method. Set aside 5 whites and 5 yolks, separately, for use in the cake recipe.
- Using hot water, rinse out the empty eggshells, removing any lingering pieces of shell membrane. Blow out the water through the large hole and set the eggshells aside to dry. If tiny bits of egg remain in the shell, these will get cooked when you bake the cake. The empty eggshells can be placed back in the egg carton and should be stored in the refrigerator.
- Prep the empty eggshells, by pouring a small amount of vegetable oil into each shell through the large hole (a small funnel may help). Swirl the oil around to coat the inside of the shell and then let the excess oil drain out through through the large hole.
- Using aluminum foil, prepare a nest in each well of a muffin tin, so that an eggshell will stand upright in the nest. Place one eggshell in each nest and set the muffin tin aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the rack in the middle of the oven (if you have two muffin tins, you can place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven).
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter with 1 cup (200 g) of sugar (3-5 minutes).
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Mix in the vanilla, and on the lowest speed, add in the sour cream and milk.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated. If you overmix the dough once the dry ingredients have been added, the texture of the cake can become tough and chewy. Beware of any large clumps as these may clog the large hole in the eggshell when filling it.
- In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/3 cup (67 g) of sugar until they are stiff but not dry.
- Fold the whites into the batter.
- Separate the batter evenly into five bowls. Dye each portion of batter a different pastel color (green, blue, pink, purple, and yellow), very gently folding the batter when mixing the color throughout to prevent collapsing the air trapped in the whipped egg whites.
- Place one color of batter in a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Gently pipe the batter into one fifth of the prepared eggshells. Using a clean piping bag and the next color of batter, fill another fifth of the eggshells and so on for all of the colored batter. If the consistency of your batter is runny, it will easily flow into the eggshell with little pressure. Only fill the eggs 1/2 to 2/3 full! Due to the large amount of baking powder and baking soda in this recipe, the cake rises significantly. It will be hard to judge the right amount of dough for your eggshells without a little trial and error, but I prefer eggs where the cake just slightly overflows out of the hole. This means the cake will fill the eggshell's volume and take that shape. Any overflowed cake can be cleaned off after baking.
- Bake for 12-15 min, rotating the muffing tin halfway through baking.
- Transfer the eggs to a cooling rack. If any of the cake eggs overflowed out of the eggshell, it is easiest to clean off the excess cake while it is still warm, using a metal spatula and a damp paper towel. Be gentle when cleaning the eggs (the shells seem more delicate when hot) and be careful not to burn yourself while holding the hot eggs; you've been warned.
- Once cool, place the eggs back in the egg carton, with the large hole facing down, and store them in the refrigerator. I prefer to serve them as a surprise, straight out of the egg carton. Once the surprise filling is revealed, the opened shell at the large hole is a great place to start peeling away shell. If you're serving these at a dinner party, you can peel away the top portion of the shell (as in the photos above) to start the process for your guests.