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Dorothy Dean presents: Cream puff cake is a simple and sweet confection for Easter

UPDATED: Tue., March 30, 2021

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

If you’ve been one busy bunny preparing for Easter, I’m here to help you check one thing off your list: dessert.

Whether your celebration is a brunch or dinner, your holiday meal isn’t complete without a sweet confection.

This simple yet impressive dessert layers all the elements of the classic French cream puff into a sliceable decadent cake.

The only baking involved is for the crust; everything else is an easy mix, slather and chill. And it can be made a day or two in advance.

Using the same ingredients and methods for cream puffs, the crust is made with pâte á choux (pronounced pat-a-shoe).

This versatile dough bakes up light and airy and is used in many desserts like eclairs, profiteroles, churros and my favorite doughnut, the French cruller.

The dough (made with water, butter, salt, sugar, vanilla, flour and eggs) is spread into a baking dish and rises and puffs as it bakes like a Dutch baby pancake.

As the golden crust settles, it forms the perfect vessel for the creamy filling, which is made with heavy cream, milk and pudding mix.

Whipped topping is spread over the filling, and then it is popped in the fridge to chill.

It’s slices beautifully and tastes like heaven – and also just like a cream puff.

The layers are light, luscious, rich and creamy, and the supple crust is tender, soft and slightly chewy in a good way.

It can be served as is or dressed up with a drizzle of chocolate, dusting of powdered sugar or fresh berries.

You can also add zest to the filling or swap out the pudding flavors.

Cream Puff Cake1 cup water

½ cup unsalted butter

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, room temperature

Egg wash:

1 egg yolk, beaten with ½ tablespoon of water

For the topping:

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

2 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla or white chocolate pudding mix

12 ounces whipped topping (Cool Whip)

For serving: fresh berries, chocolate sauce and/or powdered sugar

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, sugar and vanilla to a boil. Remove from heat, then add the flour and stir, using a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.

Stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick, smooth ball, 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add one egg at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.

After the final egg addition, continue to mix on high for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish. Coat an offset spatula with baking spray and spread the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.

Brush with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes. The dough will rise, especially up the sides of the pan. Cool completely.

To make the topping, combine the heavy cream, milk and the two pudding packages in a large bowl. Beat until thickened, and chill until ready to use.

To assemble, spread the pudding mixture into an even layer on the cooled crust. Then top with a layer of whipped topping. Chill for 2-3 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Serve with fresh berries, chocolate sauce and/or a dusting of powdered sugar.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at spoonandswallow@yahoo.com.

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