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Hedgehog Cake

By Josephine J. Daužvardis.

Hedgehogs, those little spindly porcupine creatures, are much loved in Lithuania. Nature’s little exterminators, they were often brought into the farmhouse to control insect problems. The whimsical cake is a delight for the easter table or for a spring party. This recipe requires a bit of imagination and artistic license. Feel free to substitute the filling and icing with your own family’s favorites. above all – have fun!

The recipe is taken from Popular Lithuanian Recipes compiled by Josephine J. Daužvardis.

Cake:
10 egg yolks
12 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups poppy seeds
1 cup dry white bread crumbs
1 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or grated lemon rind

Filling (recipe follows or use your favorite) Icing or frosting (recipe follows or use your favorite. Chocolate frosting makes a lovely presentation)

Almond quills for decoration 1/2 to 1 cup slivered almonds slighted toasted in oven.

Bake cake:
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Cream yolks and sugar. Add parboiled and drained poppy seeds that have been sprinkled with a little flour and potato starch (to keep them from clumping). Fold in all other ingredients except egg whites. In a separate clean bowl beat egg whites till stiff. Fold egg whites into poppy seed mixture. Spread onto 9×13 cookie sheet or into shallow cake tins which have been buttered and lined with wax paper. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Assemble cake:
When cake has cooled, cut an oval foundation piece, in approximate shape of a porcupine. Spread with filling, cut progressively smaller pieces of cake to build up porcupine body spreading each layer with filling. Shape carefully to resemble a hedgehog. Cut a small piece to resemble his turned-up nose and attach to body with toothpick. Ice or frost entire cake with favorite frosting. Insert almond quills all over cake to resemble porcupine quills. Dust hedgehog’s body with cocoa or with left-over poppy seeds. Add cloves or raisins or candies for eyes and nose.

Filling (Make a day ahead and refrigerate):
1 large egg
3 tablespoons brandy, cognac or Armagnac
8 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, in all
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Beat the egg, brandy, 2 tablespoons of the butter, cornstarch and sugar together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to boil stirring constantly. Cook at the boil for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the starch. The egg will not curdle because the starch protects it. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Icing:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1tsp lemon juice
Boil all ingredients until quite thick. Beat well.