Easter is a great time for baking and all Cristian countries have their own traditional bakes: many of which are types of yeast-risen spiced bread. These festive breads are said to have originated as celebratory breads to mark the end of a sparse winter and the beginning of the abundance of spring. They are laden with luxurious ingredients: dried fruit, nuts, candied peel and precious spices such as cinnamon and saffron. The breads are often baked in a decorative form, or stuffed with tasty fillings. Nowadays, they can be enjoyed all year round, but they are all the more tasty eaten on Easter morning with celebration in the air and spring in full swing! Here is a run down of some easter cakes and breads from around the world:
Let’s start on home turf. Nothing says Easter more than a warm hot cross bun, dripping with lashings of golden butter. The smell of rich spices fills the house as we enjoy a moment of food bliss while the sun slowly peeps above the garden fence and glistens on the morning dew. The Simnel cake also hails from the UK. It is a towering round fruit cake, with similar flavourings to a hot cross bun and a sweet marzipan centre. Twelve balls of marzipan are placed on top to represent the twelve disciples.
Start your Easter baking this Good Friday with this traditional English Simnel Cake recipe.
Italy has the colomba di pasqua: a sister bake of the country’s traditional Christmas panettone, made with no candied peel and fashioned into a dove shape, then topped with pearl sugar and almonds before baking for a crisp top.
Another panettone-like bake comes from Russia. Their sweet Kulich is a cross between a cake and a bread, with a light crumb and plenty of raisins, almonds and citrus peel. Every family has their own recipe.
The Dutch have taken inspiration from Germany for their Easter bake. Much like Stollen, their paasbrood (paas meaning Easter and brood meaning bread) is stuffed with sweet almond marzipan and flavoured with plenty of cinnamon.
Greek Koulourakia are a sweet butter cookie, traditionally eaten on Easter morning. They have a characteristic shiny egg glaze and are twisted into serpentine shapes before being sprinkled in abundance with sesame seeds before baking.
Portuguese pao doce, or ‘sweet bread’ is a light milk bread made with honey and sometimes spiked with lemon. It is served simply sliced with butter as a snack or as dessert.
There are various types of Finish pulla: their Easter dessert bread-also eaten in Sweeden where they are called kanelbulle. The various types come in different shapes, from a round bun to a braided loaf, and most are flavoured with fragrant cardamon seeds or cinnamon, and sometimes contain raisins and almonds. It is common practice in Finland to served pulla with coffee.
The Paraguayan chipa is a savoury breakfast bread made from corn grains and cheeses. It is a staple of Paraguayan cuisine, but is also eaten in Argentina, and is traditionally associated with Easter when it is consumed most heavily. It has a crisp outside and a soft chewy middle, and is best eaten straight from the oven while the cheeses are still melty.