Easter is not only a religious celebration, it also has an important food making aspect, associated with a great variety of Italian regional traditions. When Easter falls this year – but also on the days around it – all of Italy will be celebrating this event in the family and in the main squares. Besides the well-known Easter Dove and the typical Chocolate Eggs, let us try to go deeper into the history of Italian pastry making, taking a tour through classic recipes.
We start out from the North, with the Lombard recipe for Resta (or Resca), a speciality from Como; it’s a kind of long roll of sweet bread with a yellow dough and an olive twig inside it. The Brianza area gives us the Turta dei Paisan (or Miascia), a treat of humble origin, made with bread soaked in milk, amaretti cookies, pine nuts, raisins and cocoa. In Veneto there is the Fugazza (or Fogazza), a kind of soft almond bread flavoured with marsala, citron and vanilla.
Moving towards central Italy, in Emilia Romagna, tradition has handed down the Piadot di Pasqua, small sweet flat breads made with white and yellow flour, raisins and pine nuts, and also the Colomba di Pavullo. In Tuscany, people feast with a Schiaccia (or Schiacciata), a simple pastry with an anisette flavour, or with the Sportella from Livorno, a ring-shaped cake made of hard dough, decorated with coloured sprinkles. In Lazio, we discover the Tuscia Easter Pizza, with a soft yellow inside and a crisp dark crust. Moving south, we come to Campania and its Pastiera napoletana which, as the legend tells, was created by the Neapolitans for the goddess Parthenope, with a mixture of some of the most authentic gifts of nature: flour, ricotta cheese, soft wheat, orange flower water, spices and sugar, put together to make the famous sweet pie. Puglia offers us the Scarcella (or Corrucolo), a large (ring-shaped) biscuit, made to look like a ring, a braid or a dove, covered with frosting and decorated with hard boiled eggs or small chocolate eggs. And now we get to Sicily with its Easter Cassatella, (o Cassatedda), a small sweet of fried dough with ricotta cream flavoured with cinnamon, and the Favara Easter Lamb made of almond pastry and filled with pistachio pastry, the key topic of the festival which takes place every year in the Sicilian town of Favara.