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Top Rated Italian Easter Recipes
This panetonne-style bread is studded with dried fruit, and glazed with sugar and almonds. It’s delicious drizzled with heavy cream or honey, and enjoyed alongside a strong cup of coffee.This recipe is courtesy of King Arthur Flour.
Italian Easter Pie | The Best Pizza Rustica
Traditional Italian Easter Pie with a delicious cheesy and meaty ricotta filling is perfect for your Easter menu or any occasion. Pizza Rustica is an easy to make and crowd pleasing meal that everyone will love.
This Italian Easter Pie is traditional served for Easter, however one bite and you’ll be making it year round. Filled with ham, salami, prosciutto, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, this savory Easter pie is sure to your new favorite tradition.
This cheesy and meaty savory pie is also called “Pizza Rustica” and can be found in many cafes around Italy. While traditionally served at Easter, this pie is far from typical holiday fare.
This pizza rustica is similar to all of the delicious flavors you find in pizza, minus the sauce. If you’ve never tried it before, it is definitely something you should make.
So be sure to read along and see how easy and fast this recipe comes together. Served with a simple green salad or my Italian Tomato Onion Salad, and it could be a go to recipe for any day of the week.
To start off this Lidia Bastianich Easter, make a sweet homemade bread called pinza. For adults, the bread was formed into a traditional round loaf, but for children it was often shaped into a doll called a pupi, with a colored Easter egg tucked into the head. "Weɽ swaddle the doll in a kitchen towel and carry it around like a baby," she recalls.
Easter Bread Dolls (Pupi or Titola)
Lidia's Italian Easter
Lidia Bastianich: There is a saying in Italian: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con qui voi. Which means: Christmas with your family, but Easter with whoever you want! We always had a big tavolette (a picnic meal) out in the campagna (countryside), especially the day after Easter, known as Pasquetta. If you were to travel to Italy on the Monday after Easter you'd see it is a big holiday with all the people eating outside on big tables.
DELISH: What are some of your childhood memories of the holiday?
LB: We made an egg bread, but for the children we made the pupa, a doll made of braided egg bread with dyed eggs as the face. I even remember swaddling it. You'd get tempted to eat it, but you didn't want to ruin your doll, so you'd break off the feet and eat it!
I loved foraging for wild asparagus. We'd come home with a bouquet of flowers and a bouquet of thin asparagus &mdash thinner than a pencil &mdash and violets and cyclamens. The violets were centerpieces and the asparagus were made into salad, a frittata, and used for the weeks after for risotto or pastas. The asparagus ferns were quite prickly we'd get scratched, but it was a chore of love.
DELISH: Wow, that sounds picturesque. It would be nice to do that in the U.S. Have you been back for Easter recently?
LB: I try to go back every March and April for the asparagus. It is such a cornerstone in my food memory bank.
DELISH: How do you celebrate with your family here?
LB: I make the egg bread with my grandkids, a ritual that everyone cherishes. It's a long process since the bread has three to four risings, so it's a recipe of love. I continue the tradition because I love it and I want to pass it on. We do it all together in our home, including my mother, who is 88.
DELISH: What's the dish everyone in your family looks forward to eating year after year?
LB: We love the spring vegetables, salads, and risotto. And everyone especially loves my lamb on the spit, which we do outside, but a lot of times I cut it up and roast it with peas, spring onions, and fava beans, or even a little bit of the green salad shredded in there: It's all kind of smothered over the lamb. It's so delicious!
DELISH: What advice do you have for preparing a proper Italian Easter feast?
LB: If you are making a pinza, egg bread, it needs to be done the day before, but you can go to an ethnic market to buy a Greek egg bread or a challah as a replacement.
Your peas should be shelled the day before, the onions cleaned, but the roasting, baking, and risotto should be prepared that day. Get all your ingredients beforehand, even the meat. I cut up the meat and even season it the day before and refrigerate. Any extra bread I use for breakfast for the next few days, since I like to dunk it in my caffe latte!
New vegetables for the new season: Baby artichokes score amazing flavor when slow-braised in white wine and herbs.
Tender braised lamb makes an impressive but homey Easter centerpiece, and the rich pan juices are delicious with chewy cavatelli pasta.
Since 1995, Epicurious has been the ultimate food resource for the home cook, with daily kitchen tips, fun cooking videos, and, oh yeah, over 33,000 recipes.
First time poster, but I've found this site to be incredibly helpful!
I'm having issues with a lost recipe I have for my Great-Grandmother's Italian Easter Bread. I'm trying to revive it but it always comes out much too dense and dry. The top always looks slightly sunken in as well. The bread is called "La Pigna" (pronounced peen-ya). It's from the Ciociaria region of Southern Lazio (South of Rome, North of Naples). La Pigna seems to be in many ways very similar to Panettone as well as a Neopolitan Easter bread called Casatiello Dolce. It's very difficult to find any info on La Pigna in Italian, let alone English.
Below is the recipe I have. Based on this list, can you find the issue? I have a feeling it has something to do with the yeast. Perhaps pre-fermenting it all at once is the issue? Or the kind of yeast I'm using? The recipe calls for Active Dry Yeast but a lot of the old recipes call for sourdough. Or a lot of the other recipes call for making a Biga the night before and adding more yeast the next day. I would think this would help the dough rise for a couple days since its such a rich dough with 3 or 4 eggs and a whole stick of butter. Perhaps switching to Instant Yeast would help? Maybe more yeast? Less flour and fat?
1. Proof Yeast: Scald milk. Cool to 100-110 degrees. Mix with yeast and a little sugar until they dissolve
2. Mix softened butter together with zest, anise extract, cinnamon, wine, and anise seeds
5. Combine yeast mixture with flour mixture
6. Let rise for 3 hours then refrigerate overnight.
7. The next morning pour dough into a bundt pan
8. Let rise until it touches the top of the pan
9. Bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes to an hour
10. Remove from pan, let cool, and decorate with royal white icing and colored sprinkles
Thanks for the recipe! I will have to make it myself!
Well, if you are adding your yeast to hot milk, that would kill the yeast. Sorry if you already know that, but it doesn't say in the recipe to let it cool down.
Your yeast variety is probably not the issue. I don't know where the 3 day fermentation comes from, that is long! And not in the recipe.
edit: Oh, and by the way, if you let it rise overnight like it suggests, you will very likely get overfermented dough unless you are doing a cold ferment.
I would replace that instruction with "rise for 3 hours at room temperature then put in a fridge or cold room overnight."
Thanks I incorporated your edits and I'll give a refrigerated rise a try! As for the 3 days rising, that's my mistake. Traditionally, the recipe calls for 3 days to rise, which is a rough interpretation. One day for the biga, one day for the first rise, and another day for the second rise. I wonder if my great grandmother or great aunt changed the recipe a little to make it more simple. In any case, the 3 days rising is supposed to represent the 3 days it took Jesus to rise from the dead (it is Easter bread after all). In my case, its just two days.
I love reviving family recipes but I have found they can be tricky. So a few questions, first.
Have you ever eaten this bread? It gives you a sample goal, at least.
What era does this recipe come from? 1900-1920's?-1930's- Later?
Was the recipe in cups or grams? Or was it estimated ( i.e. "2 1/2 generous teacups")
Did you use a conversion chart to derive the grams from cups? Like this .
Can you give us the closest translation to the original recipe?
Knowing this might help get as close as possible to the original recipe.
As for how to tweak your version of the original recipe for an acceptable product:
Scald (and cool) the milk, as already pointed out.
Add more liquid-I think this dough looks a bit dry?
Use osmotolerant yeast (a strain of yeast conditioned to highly enriched doughs) or increase the amount of yeast a bit. Osmotolerant yeast like this .
Let rise to double-it may not be overnight unless it is kept cool.
Is this enough dough to fill the bundt pan at least halfway?
Nothing is said about kneading. Is it kneaded at all?
Alternatively, you could make a biga from the flour,water and a pinch of yeast. Hold overnight in a cool place (40-70F). Then add the 7 g yeast the next day with the other ingredients.
This recipe METHOD is probably close to what you want to do and rings true with how older recipes were accomplished (make a well in the dry flour and make a dough by hand, then add enrichments). It gives the gluten and starch time to form. You may still need to adjust the liquid in your recipe if it seems dry.
This recipe is similar to yours but not as rich.
Thank you so much for your replies I am so thankful!
Clazar - I have never eaten the bread as made by my Great Aunt or Great Grandmother. My mother and other family members have and they say the consistency is similar to Panettone. It is not like a braided loaf of Challah like more common Italian easter bread.
This recipe was brought with my Great Grandmother from her mother in Italy. They emigrated in the 1920's. I have a suspicion that it was changed and modified though since it calls for Active Dry Yeast instead of Sour Dough starter like so many other more traditional recipes call for.
The recipe I gave was estimated. Traditionally you made three of these. Most of the recipes online you'll find in Italian have you baking 3 at a time using a kilo of flour. I scaled this recipe back to make only one loaf. The conversions to grams and ml were done by using King Arthur Flour Blog's conversions.
I'll link a few recipes and a video, most of these will be more traditional than the one in English. Keep in mind, though, that every village and household had different variations of this recipe (some used fat or oil instead of butter, more or less eggs, etc. ). Google translate is great tool to use on these foreign websites as well.
My recipe calls for no kneading, though most recipes call for kneading for 5 to 15 minutes. Perhaps I'll try that well.
It does fill the pan half way.
I'll make sure to try your suggestions as well.
Traditional Recipe Videos:
In English close to my recipe:
I apologize as i can't get google translate to run for me right now.
I figured I'd run with the idea of hydration is the issue so I ran some numbers comparing my recipes hydration level to Jim Lahey's Panettone Recipe. As it turns out, hydration is not the issue I think. Based on my calculation Lahey's hydration is about 75%. Mine is over 80%!. So I don't think it's that. I came across the below post online I think the fat content is culprit. So my question is, how do I counteract the issues with gluten with this much fat in the bread if I wanted to keep the fat content consistent?
"The reason that your enriched bread handled completely different than your initial bread is because eggs, sugar, and oil all inhibit the formation of gluten. Sugar attracts water, so it competes with the proteins gliadin and glutenin in flour for binding to water (glutenin+water+gliadin= gluten) added to the mixture.
Egg Yolks contain a high percentage of fat and liquid oil by definition is 100% fat. Fat uses a different mechanism than sugar to inhibit gluten formation. Fats coat the individual gliadin and glutenin proteins. Because fats are hydrophobic (not attracted to water) they effectively shield the gliadin and glutenin from water, which inhibits gluten formation.
With this collective reduction in gluten, the bread becomes much denser because the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast doesn't have enough gluten to use for expansion of the bread. If all other ingredients and factors were the same between your initial and enriched bread recipes, but you increased the amounts of sugar and fat the result is a denser bread."
I think I may have answered my own question. Based on the below article it looks like a long intense knead is exactly what I need. This is consistent with the Panettone Recipe. The other solutions are also consistent with the more traditional recipes I posted above using a big and pre-ferments without a long knead.
Sounds like I need to knead! Does this sound right?
I watchd the videos-delightful! I don't speak Italian but I could get the gist of what the ingredients with the exception of 1-it was after the milk, orange juice and wine-was it vinegar? It looked clear and was in a nicely shaped bottle-almost like I have seen Holy Water put in.
2 things I noticed in the video and it is also noted in the recipe you linked to that was similar to yours.
1. The eggs and sugar are beaten until very light. This is a way to incorporate air into a batter to lighten the end product. Very important to do this!
2. The final dough (in the video) did not rise much-in the bowl or in the oven. It looked like the starter was very active and provided the fermentation flavor but not much rise.
If your dough is as liquid as in the video, there is no kneading-only mixing. Beat those eggs!
When you made your bread, did you measure your flour by volume or weight?
EDIT: The way you combat the fat coating the gluten/protein strands is to mix the flour and water first and add the fats last.
Sweet breads also can proof very quickly and the fats can "break" if the dough ever gets too warm during mixing or proofing, so it is best to keep this dough a bit cool. Don't allow to double.
I don't think your issue is about kneading. You don't need to knead this cake to make it. A few thoughts to share..
#1 The old school way to make this is with levain because it will allow for a long slow rise as your grandfather and those before him did. They didn't have commercial yeast 100 years ago in small Italian villages - so they'd use natural yeast. That lent itself to a long slow rise. Giving the recipe a shot of active dry yeast requires some modifications which is what your family did somewhere along the way.. many of them as they immigrated lost the habit of using mother yeasts / starters and went commercial for convenience.
#2 A long slow fermentation - especially three day - will require temperature control. Tonight in Rome, just before Easter weekend, it's 14 celcius / 58 ferinheight - that's cool. A hundred years ago they didn't have central heating or radiators in small towns, so the house was likely relatively cool. If not in the day time when the fire was stoked, it likely got cooler at night as they slept until they got up to get the fire going again. So if you're in a typical north american home, you're probably living at a very comfortable 70 plus degree temp and that's going to shorten your time window. The lady in the video said she left the dough for about 20/25 hours (not three days) given the type of house we see from the background looked pretty warm.
#3 With all that sugar the yeast is going to get drunk happy and lazy. So that's why to give it a boost she give it a blend of orange and lemon juice - to make the dough more acidic and give the yeast a power shot of 'acid' to get more active and deal with the overwhelming sugar comma it finds itself in - your recipe doesn't do that. The white wine was probably a bit acidic too. To that end, this is from something on the web I just found - I think it was king arthur's site:
Yeast likes an acidic environment. Although the fermentation process naturally creates an acidic environment, to make yeast even happier, increase the dough’s acidity a bit. You can do this by adding a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or by replacing some of the liquid with an acidic liquid (a tablespoon of orange juice, lemon juice or vinegar). This is especially helpful when you’re following a sweet bread recipe, one in which the yeast will be slowed down by a larger amount of sugar.
My suggestion to you is a) try to make this with a levain if you can b) regardless reduce your fermentation time as you don't live in the old country and likley live in a well insulated house c) consider adding a bit of orange juice d) don't look for the second rise, once you've led the dough go through a 24 hour fermentation then bake a pan and see how it seems, you can always bake the other then or let it go for another day (but I doubt you will).
Italian stracciatella soup with chicken broth, beaten eggs and parmesan cheese.
- 2 liters chicken broth
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (this will depend on the saltiness of the broth)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
- Add the parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper to the eggs and beat together.
- Once the chicken stock has come to a rolling boil add the egg mixture.
- Allow the egg to coagulate at the surface then lightly mix with a whisk.
- Do this for 3 minutes, whisking everytime the eggs come together at the surface.
- Serve and sprinkle with chopped parsley and more grated parmesan.
Did you make this recipe?
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Italian Easter recipes
Easter or Pasqua in Italian, is one of Italy’s biggest and most important holidays. Grand processions, firework displays and other open-air events are held across the country, as each region celebrates the resurrection of Jesus according to their own unique set of traditions. As this collection of Italian Easter recipes demonstrates, this also extends to the foods that are eaten. In Sardinia star-shaped tartlets filled with ricotta, saffron and citrus peel are a traditional favourite, while In Sicily, colourful Italian biscuits called Cuddura Siciliana are eaten during Easter lunch. These unusual little biscuits feature a whole boiled egg wrapped in pastry and are said to have originated with the Ancient Greeks who colonized Sicily over 2500 years ago
The Italian mainland has just as rich a food heritage as its islands. In Naples a fragrant wheat cake called Pastiera Napoletana is commonplace. Served for breakfast on Easter Sunday, it is traditionally prepared on Good Friday to allow enough time for the citrus, vanilla and ricotta filling to properly infuse. No Italian Easter collection would be complete without a Torta pasqualina, a delicious Easter pie which has a rich ricotta and egg filling – ingredients that were historically forbidden during lent. Bring this classic Italian Easter dish to your own home with Luca Marchiori’s easy recipe.
Can I Make the Italian Easter Bread Dough the Night Before?
Yes, you can make it and let it rise in the fridge overnight. Here’s what to do once you’ve made the dough: don’t let it rise in the bread machine or bowl. Place it in a large container with a lid, or a sealed bowl, with sufficient space for it to rise and put it in the fridge. In the morning, proceed from the first rise (knead and shape). Try to make it as late in the day as you can as you not want the dough to overproof.
Take a look at the step by step photos and you’ll see, you can make these lovely Italian Easter bread Rings.
You may also like this recipe for a Colomba di Pasqua (Italian Easter dove bread)
IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE AND ENJOY THE BREAD, PLEASE LEAVE A 5 STAR RATING
IN THE RECIPE CARD BELOW
Southern Italians make many types of elaborate savory Easter breads which often incorporate meats, cheeses, and whole eggs in their shell. The casatiello from Naples is one such bread, baked into a ring topped with whole eggs. The casatiello of the Liguria region was traditionally made with 33 thin layers of dough, one for each year of Jesus's life.
A simple, braided bread is also traditional at Italian Easter meals. Scented with anise and lemon, it definitely has a characteristic Italian flavor. There are many sweet Easter breads, as well, the most widespread being the colomba, a dove-shaped sweet yeast bread topped with slivered almonds and crunchy pearl sugar, rather similar in texture and flavor to the classic Italian Christmas cake, panettone. The colomba originated in the Lombardy region but is now popular throughout Italy and in Italian communities abroad.
- 3 cups hot water
- 6 tablespoons white vinegar
- Food coloring gel (desired colors)
- 9 large eggs
- 1 cup lukewarm whole milk (about 100°F)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (2 2/3 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon instant or quick-rising yeast (such as Fleischmann&rsquos RapidRise)
- 4 ½ cups (about 19 1/8 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups (about 8 oz.) powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon grated orange zest plus 3Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 orange)
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Rainbow candy sprinkles
Place 1/2 cup hot water in each of 6 small bowls or cups. Stir 1 tablespoon vinegar and desired amount of food coloring gel into hot water in each bowl until blended. Place 1 egg (in shell) in warm dye in each bowl, and let stand until entire shell is dyed, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer eggs to paper towels, and let stand until completely dry, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place warm milk, sugar, butter, instant yeast, and 2 of the eggs in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Gradually add flour and salt, beating on low speed until a dough forms, about 3 minutes. Fit mixer with dough hook, and beat on medium speed until dough is elastic and pulls away from sides of bowl (dough will stick to bottom of bowl), about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80°F to 85°F) , free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
On a lightly floured surface, punch dough down, and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 28-inch-long rope. Braid ropes together, pinching ends to seal. Shape braided dough into a round wreath shape, pinching ends together to seal. Transfer to a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Tuck dyed eggs around wreath into braided dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until almost doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining egg in a small bowl. Uncover dough wreath, and brush with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 28 minutes. Carefully transfer wreath on parchment paper to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.
Whisk together powdered sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and cream in a medium bowl until smooth. Drizzle over bread, and top with sprinkles.