Pizza in Abruzzo can get a little confusing at Easter time, suddenly there is the arrival of ‘La Pizza Pasqua’ that has nothing to do with being flat, tomato paste or take out.
This is a rich, sweet bread-like Easter cake with variations across each family living across central Italy. It is more akin to panettone and stuffed with sultanas/raisins, sugar and anise, lemon and orange zest and candied peel. Its lightness isn’t just due to being yeast-based but due to the addition of plenty of eggs that those who practice Lent have been holding off on eating for the last 40 days!
One of my favourite restaurants Il Mandarone in San Pietro (TE) gave their description of the work traditionally behind this lovely Easter cake!
“Traditionally we started making made it on the Wednesday before Good Friday, made so that it could allow it to rise slowly overnight. Historically, Mothers and Grandmothers would get up before dawn to knead the dough once more before putting it in the moulds to allow it to rise again. It was a night of interrupted sleep! They would need to keep checking on the leavening due to the unpredictable weather of Easter and would relight the fire early to heat and keep the room warm ensuring the dough rose and the final pizza was light. Whilst the dough rose, the wood oven, in homes or the village oven would be lit so that it would reach the right temperature that only they knew, there being no thermometers then. La pizza di Pasqua would be baked late morning on Thursday, without anyone being able to taste it officially due to Lent. However, some kindly grandmothers would always secretly cut a small slither for the grandchildren whose sweet hungry eyes they could never resist.”
Il Molino Coro who has come together with local farmers in Teramo to return to growing the resilient ancient wheat of the province has shared with us their family’s recipe for this delicious slow rise Easter cake!
La Pizza di Pasqua
- 300 g 300 g Flour 00
- 12.5 g Fresh Yeast
- 125 g Warm Milk
- 500 g Flour 00
- 500 g Autonomia Flour or Soft Wheat Flour
- 8 Medium Eggs
- 300 g Sugar
- 125 g Milk
- 12.5 g Fresh Yeast
- 140 g Sunflower Oil
- Grated zest from 1 orange
- Grated zest from 1 lemon
- 250 g Candied peel (if you don't like it replace it with chocolate chips)
- 3 tsp Anise Seeds
- 250 g Sultanas or Raisins
- Prepare your dough sponge, mix all ingredients together and allow to sit and bubble
- Separate your eggs and whip the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the egg yolks and sugar
- Combine the yeast, flour and oil mix well until you get a dough, add your eggs and sugar and your dough sponge and knead until you get a smooth uniform dough
- Let it rise for 12 hours
- Add a little water to cover your sultanas to allow them to plump up
- Once leavening is complete add your anise, sultanas, lemon and orange zest and candied peel
- Grease and flour a cylindrical mould of about 28 cm in diameter. Add your dough into the mould and allow it to rise for another 5 hours
- Preheat your oven to 180C
- Bake your pizza for 45 minutes. Do check on it regularly when it is in the oven and when it begins to turn a golden brown wrap the top in foil to ensure it doesn't burn.
- Remove and allow to cool before adding a light sugar syrup on top and a few sprinkles if you have kids!
Thanks to Il Mandarone for their photo of a just-baked Pizza di Pasqua