Barb Tucker knows her way around the kitchen – she cooks, she bakes and decorates cakes, and in the springtime, her friends and family can count on her to make old-fashioned sugar Easter Eggs.
“I guess it’s kind of a lost art. You don’t hear of a lot of people doing it,” Tucker said last week from her home in Glenwood. “I took a class years ago from Paula Disterhaupt here in Glenwood and I’ve enjoyed doing them ever since.”
Everyone in Tucker’s family, including her husband George, their children and grandchildren, have received at least one of her personalized Easter Eggs. In 1997, she made an egg for everyone and used them as place cards on Easter Sunday at the family dinner table.
The recipe for the eggs is simple, but the process is lengthy.
“It’s just sugar and water. It’s not an elaborate recipe,” Tucker said. “It just takes some time.”
The sugar eggs are actually made in plastic molds, which are in the shape of a half-egg. The eggs are created when two halves are “glued” together with decorative icing.
“You mix the sugar and water and make it feel like wet sand,” Tucker said. “Then, you let it harden in the mold.
“I always use C & H sugar,” Tucker added. “It’s cane sugar and it’s just a little bit finer than some of the other sugars.”
After the egg halves have hardened, Tucker gets out her tools – a small spoon, a paring knife and a miniature saw she came across at the True Value hardware store.
Tucker uses the spoon as a scoop to carefully hollow out the two halves of the egg. The knife and saw come in handy to carve out the peep hole at the ends of the eggs.
Before she puts two identical halves together to make a full egg, Tucker uses her artistic talents to create a miniature scene that goes inside the egg and can be viewed through the peep hole.
“You might make a little rabbit and a carrot with your icing, or something like that for your scene, and then you put the scene in one of the halves with some Easter grass,” Tucker said. “After that, you put the two sides together and put the icing on as a glue to hold the two sides together.”
Tucker makes her own icing, using a mixture of powdered sugar, meringue powder and water.
Making each egg is a step-by-step process and requires patience. After each step, time is needed for the sugar or icing to dry and harden. Decorating the outside of the egg is the final step.
“You can’t get one done in one sitting,” Tucker said. “I need to do each part and then come back later for the next step. You could get it done in a 24-hour period. Patience is a virtue if you’re going to make these eggs.”
Tucker said the eggs can last for years if they’re taken care of and stored properly. Although they are edible, the eggs typically aren’t meant to be eaten and actually aren’t very tasty.
“There’s nothing in it you couldn’t eat, but I don’t think you’d want your child just to sit down and eat it,” she said.