Puglia by cake | the Easter trinity
Life in Puglia is seasonal. What we do, what we eat - and that includes cakes and pastries. We can tell where we are in the calendar year with a trip to the baker.
Holy Week starts with messages on our phone from family and friends wishing us a “Buona domenica delle palme”. During the week shopkeepers offer us “auguri”. On Easter Sunday we receive more messages wishing is “Buona pasqua”.
For Italians of faith Easter is a more important festival than Christmas. The catholic church abandon any sense of modernity for solemn tradition that is on display all week long.
It is also a time to feast. At Easter we have a trinity of treats to mark the occasion.
A traditional Easter pastry, a cross between biscuit and brioche, always incorporating one or more intact boiled egg. A puddicastro comes in many shapes and is usually given as a gift to children.
la colomba di Pasqua
The Easter equivalent of the traditional panettone or pandoro Christmas cake.
Like its counterparts this is a rich and fluffy festive cake, made with eggs and butter. It is shaped and baked into a dover shape (from which it takes its name), and usually topped with whole almonds and pearl sugar.
We eat it for breakfast, often slathered with chocolate hazelnut spread, or as an afternoon treat perhaps with some mascarpone. On Easter Sunday or Easter Monday we might even have a slice of colomba with a glass of prosecco.
As with panettone, colomba is one of the rare exceptions to Italian cuisine; even the most traditional nonna will buy her colomba from the store, rather than make it herself. Artisan bakers rise to the occasion.
Regional twists come with the dried fruits that might be added to the dough. This years ours was made with amarena cherries, typical of the Emilia-Romagna region. Some even have chocolate chips added.
The cake often given as gift when visiting friends and family over the Easter period.
L'agnello di pasta di mandorle
This is the desert to our Easter lunch. In Puglia this is made using a ground almonds paste rather than marzipan. Using more almonds than marzipan it is coarser and less sweet.
We usually buy one made by our baker, and our 80-year old neighbour always makes us one as well.