Friday - March 22, 2013 Filed in: In Season | Food
Image © Concierge in Umbria
For the past few weeks, Italian food stores, sweet shops, and bakeries have been overflowing with Easter goods.
It’s hard to walk a few blocks in any Italian city without being blinded by the sheer amount of plastic wrap keeping all the goodies hidden away until Easter Sunday.
But besides egg-shaped chocolates (yes, they are popular in Italy as well), there are a whole host of savory and only slightly sweet breads that characterize the holiday season for Italians.
Some are typically made at home, while others are almost always sourced from a local baker. Try your hand at making them for your own family this spring.
While the recipes vary a bit by region, here are some of the most common Italian Easter breads.
Photo by Flickr user Nicola since 1972
Think of a colomba
(which also means dove) as the Easter version of panettone.
While the latter has found its way to the U.S., colombe are just starting to show up stateside.
Apart from its shape, which is meant to look like a dove, but looks a bit like a cross, colombe are primarily different from panettones due to their filling – there are typically raisins and less candied fruit – and topping. On colombe, you’ll find a thin layer of meringue topped with whole almonds and sugar pearls.Colomba Pasquale Recipes
Pane di Pasqua or Gurrugulo (Easter Bread)Image © Concierge in Umbria
A sweet bread with a consistency not unlike challah or brioche, this bread is braided, typically in a circle, with eggs nestled into the braid.
Many parts of Italy claim this as a traditional food, though its real origins are quite obscure. Pane di pasqua
is also commonly eaten in Greece and many areas of the former Ottoman Empire.
The Italian version has a light anise flavor and brightly colored eggs. You can actually use whole raw eggs if you don’t cook and dye them first. They cook perfectly while the bread bakes.Pane di Pasqua Recipes
Torta di Pasqua or Torta al Formaggio (Savory Easter Cake)Image © Concierge in Umbria
While the term torta di pasqua
is also sometimes used for colombe, it also refers to this rich, savory version.
This bread draws its nickname torta di formaggio
or “cheese bread” from the hunks of pecorino cheese buried in the dough that impart a rich, creamy taste. Just the thing you need after abstaining from rich foods during Lent.
Though it’s most associated with Umbria, torta di pasqua
is also served in Le Marche and other parts of central Italy. It is traditional to have a slice for breakfast on Easter morning.Torta di Pasqua Recipes
Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers | Contact Us
Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist: Italy