Italian Easter Bread or Pane di Pasqua
For as long as I can remember my mother made multiple Easter rings or baskets with eggs (known as Italian Easter Bread, Pane di Pasqua ,Cuzzuppe di Pasqua , Ciambelle Dolci, Pupi Con L’uova <or Easter Dolls >). My mother varied her recipe at times making a savory version versus the sweet recipe I will be highlighting here (for the savory version simply use our classic pizza dough recipe). The recipe, like many Italian Easter dishes, are firmly situated in a religious tradition; specifically, eggs symbolizing new life, fertility, and eternal life. The Cuzzupe my mother prepares includes a single egg that is placed in a braided ring; the egg is not colored in our preparation because, and according to my mother, dye was difficult to come by in Calabria and reflected real world conditions in much of the South up until the 1970’s and 1980’s (when economic conditions improved slightly).
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 4 tablespoons of soft butter
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of lemon extract
- 1 3/4 – 2 cups of of flour (all purpose)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 8 eggs
In a large bowl, combine butter, salt, and sugar. Use a hand mixer and mix well or until you have creamy consistency. Add egg, milk, and extract and mix well. Next, stir in flour (including baking powder) and mix well (until very smooth). My mother’s version includes a single braid housing one egg, though you can easy make the dough into a ring or basket. On a flowered surface cut away a little less than 1/4 of the dough and braid a 1 foot section stopping at the top and creating a small nest to hold your egg. Place a single, uncooked, egg in the “nest” and place two strips of dough over the egg (per the photo). Repeat the process; the recipe should yield 5-7 single braided pastries or breads. Bake the pastries for 20 minutes or until you observe a golden brown exterior.