Easter in Italy does not typically involve the Easter Bunny. It is a time of celebration and with that comes FOOD. Some of the foods your will encounter vary from region to region however some popular gifts or treats typically given at this time of year include a large hollow chocolate Easter Egg which has a prize inside and another is Pane Di Pasqua or Easter Bread.
A family tradition Mamma enjoys is giving all the children the hollow chocolate Easter Egg and a loaf of bread or Pane di Pasqua. Mamma’s version is lightly sweetened and she uses dough to wrap around a single egg. Some versions have an egg at either end of the bread and some like to paint the eggs.
No mixer, no worries here is a great recipe by Emeril Lagasse for pizza dough by hand.
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour plus more if necessary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, add half of the flour and mix well to thoroughly incorporate. Add all remaining flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with your hands. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 and up to 7 minutes, adding enough additional flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.
Divide dough into 2 portions (for 2 (12-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. (See note below for calzones.) Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Transfer dough to a pizza peel and top with toppings of choice. Transfer to the preheated pizza stone and bake until crispy and golden brown, usually 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings). Remove from the oven with a metal peel or spatula and serve immediately.
Note: For calzones, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form into 4 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4 6-inch circles. Place filling of choice in the center of one side of each circle, then fold dough over filling to meet edges of filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit in the top of the calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking. Cook on a preheated pizza stone in a preheated 475 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until well-browned. Remove from the oven with a metal peel or spatula and serve immediately.
This is a specialty sweet bread that Mamma makes only at Easter time. This sweet bread has a heavier consistency than your typical bread and the finished product has a yellow color tinge to it. The Kids will gobble it up and it will soon become an annual Easter tradition.
7 Eggs (whisk)
7 teaspoons Baking powder
3 cups sugar
Flour (approx 5 cups)
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup milk
8 ml Salt or 1/2 tbsp
6 eggs (for decorative purposes, twist dough over raw egg)
Beat the 7 eggs well with whisk.
Add 3 cups sugar, add 2 cups of vegetable oil, 8 ml salt or little more than 1/2 tbsp salt, 1 cup milk. Whisk well to add more air.
Add flour to make a dough consistency (approx 5 cups) and add 7 teaspoon baking powder.
Roll and twist the dough in strips, add decorative egg (raw, shell still intact of course), shape as per above image. Use thinner strip of dough to wrap the egg on the top or for the last layer.
Bake at 300 deg F for about 35 minutes.
Makes about 6 loaves.
This sweet bread is a treat Mamma gives to all the grand-children each year and it is also known as pane di pasqua in Italian.
Mamma makes a home made garlic bread called Frezena, which is crunchy and not like your typical North American garlic bread. To start, her baked bread looks like a super sized doughnut, however, for this exercise or recipe you can use a french loaf or your own home made bread. Just cut it in half, place on cookie sheet or pan and follow instructions below.
1 clove Garlic per side
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of Vinegar (Red)
Parsley to taste
Loaf of Baked or homemade Bread
3 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
8-9 cups flour
grated cheddar cheese
Mix all ingredients with exception of toppings into mixing bowl. Let rise for about 30 minutes, depending on your yeast might be longer. Knead and place dough on table and let rise for second 30 minute interval.
Using your rolling pin flatten dough
add ham and cheese to top
roll dough like preparing a cinnamon bun
cut and put on sheet pan
sprinkle cheese on top
let sit for 15 minutes before baking
This authentic Italian honey bread recipe is from Concetta and it is called Mustazzoli. It is often served at weddings and special events.
MUSTAZZOLI (Concettas’ recipe)
1 medium sized jar of liquid honey
1-1/2 cups water
4 tsp (heaping) baking powder
Mix in enough flour to absorb the liquids. Knead to make a firmer dough than bread. Concetta makes it in the evening, leaves it over night and then cooks it in the morning. Bake at 325 deg F till firm and brown.
You can use 1/2 jar honey for a smaller batch of Mustazzoli. This will make a few long narrow loaves, but they freeze well. The more times you make this Italian Honey Bread the better the recipe will turn out so stick with it. Mangiare!!
There are many types of Italian breads, Ciabatta, Pane carasau, Pane casareccio, Panino, Focaccia, Pane toscano (without salt), Michetta, Rosetta, Ciriola, Pane pugliese, Pane di Altamura, Pane Fritto, Grissini torinesi, Tigella, Crescentina, Piadina, Pita to name a few. The following is an authentic age old Italian recipe for fried bread Mamma style.
2 cups of warm water
2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar to help yeast rise
1 tbsp salt
4 cups of flour
Vegetable oil (for frying pan)
Wait for yeast to float on top of the water then add flour and salt
Mix till no lumps (not like pancake dough)
The dough should stick to your hands and fingers for the consistency to be correct
Leave until ready to fry do not handle!
If the house is hot/warm the dough will rise faster
Fill the frying pan ¾ full with vegetable oil and set burner or stove up as high as 8.
On the side fill a little bowl with some oil to dip your fingers in so the dough does not stick too badly to your fingers. Remember to frequently oil your fingers and hands to prevent dough from sticking.
Pinch a bit of dough, quickly spread it or stretch it then carefully place it into the oil in the pan (see photo).