As Easter is around the corner, let’s explore the wonderful world of Easter desserts. Easter is the most important festival in Christianity because it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christian tradition holds that all of humanity’s sins were paid for by Jesus’s sacrifice, and this also means that his resurrection represents the hope of salvation. To celebrate this day, different countries around the world have created their own unique celebration and food that represented not only their beliefs but also their cultures. As to complete a perfect Easter dinner, there must always be some sweet treats to share with family and friends. Today, let’s explore an iconic Easter dessert from Italy, Pane di Pasqua.
What is Pane di Pasqua?
Pane di Pasqua or Italian Easter Bread is a light, eggy, and slightly sweet brioche bread often formed into wreaths or braided and flavored with the bursting aroma of citrus and spices. Pane di Pasqua always looks festive and bright. Aside from its crisp notes of citrus and subtle notes of spices, Pane di Pasqua always has a special additional ingredient embedded on it, colorfully painted eggs. After the eggs are colored, they are placed into the raw dough, and together they are baked in the oven until the bread is golden brown.
Since Italy is one of the world’s most famous culinary destinations, Italians love to celebrate the country’s holidays with food. After the period of lent, people will celebrate Easter Sunday by splurging and indulging. Of all the good food that is enjoyed around Easter, Pane di Pasqua is the one that represents some very special and meaningful symbols. First of all, bread has always had an incredible significance around many cultures’ Easter tables. For centuries, bread has been known as the prime source of life. During the process of making Pane di Pasqua, three pieces of dough are braided together to represent the Holy Trinity. The bread is baked in the shape of a wreath which represents the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ wore at the crucifixion. Lastly, colorful eggs are placed directly into the dough which represents the symbol of new life. By the time the baking process is finished, depending on each family’s preference, Pane di Pasqua can be glazed with a sugary glaze and sprinkled with nonpareils.
What makes Pane di Pasqua stand out from the others is its unique flavor. The main ingredients that make up this bread’s one-of-a-kind scent are the combination of bright, springy orange juice and anise. These two ingredients always work very well together, and as a result, each bite into this sweet and fluffy bread will give you joy and great satisfaction. For those who are not a fan of anise, you will not have to worry because after the bread is baked, the flavor of anise will become very mellow, and it will just leave a hint of spice in the bread. If you still do not want to add any anise into your bread, you can use cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract. Though I personally love the smell of anise, I find that cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract will work just fine as they can pair really well with orange juice. Last but not least, to make Pane di Pasqua smell extra bright and citrusy for springtime, add some fresh orange zest into the dough. Since the main flavor of this bread is orangey, there is no such thing as too much orange.
Have you had Pane di Pasqua before? If you have not, let’s try making it this Easter weekend.