To celebrate Easter we are sharing some lovely recipes from Catherine Fulvio’s Bake Like An Italian cookbook that will have you saying Buona Pasqua in no time!
Whether it’s living, loving, fashion or pasta, Italians do it better…and baking is no exception! No one knows this more than Catherine Fulvio, chef, honorary Italian and author of the award-winning cookbook Eat Like an Italian. For Bake Like An Italian, Catherine travelled to Italy to research the very best authentic sweet and savoury recipes. She discovered how baking is the life-blood of the Italians. Just go into any village piazza in Italy and the bakery (panificio) and cake shop (pasticceria) will have pride of place.
Cenci / makes about 30
Cenci means “rags or tatters” but these little “dough rags” have different names depending on where in Italy (try frappe, galani, bugie or crostoli). They’re carnival treats and are also served on Glovedi Grasso Fat Thursday which is the Thursday before Lent and up until Fat Tuesday (Martedi Grasso). There is also a tradition for husbands to give their wives angel wings on Friday 13th to avoid bad luck.
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour, sifted
11/2 tsp baking powder
20g butter, softened
extra virgin olive oil, for deep-frying
icing sugar, for dusting
1 Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract into a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the softened butter and mix until a soft dough forms.
2 Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6–7 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll each half out very thinly. Using a pastry wheel, cut out 4cm x 8cm strips.
3 Line a large plate with kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Drop a small piece of dough in to check that the oil is hot – it should quickly turn golden. Carefully drop the strips of dough into the hot oil and fry until golden. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the kitchen paper to drain.
4 Pile the warm strips on a pretty serving plate and lightly dust with icing sugar.
Pane Pasquale/ makes 6
This is a fluffy, light bread which is such fun to make. And, as it’s sweet, you can be sure the children will devour lots of it. Smaller eggs work better in this recipe and the dough is braided around the eggs.
450g ’00’ flour
100g caster sugar
2 tsp fast action dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
6 small coloured eggs (see note at the end for how to colour them)
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water)
1 Place the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook and stir together.
2 Gently melt the butter and add the milk to warm it through, then cool slightly before whisking in the egg. Check the temperature, as it should not be too hot. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix just until a soft dough is formed, adding a little more flour or warm milk if necessary. Knead on a medium speed for about 5 minutes to form a smooth, elastic dough.
3 Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
4 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knock it back and knead for 2–3 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces and then divide these pieces in half again. Using your fingers, roll out each piece into a 25cm rope.
5 Twist each rope into a double braid and turn into a circle. Do the same with the remaining ropes and place on 2 baking trays lined with baking parchment. Oil a piece of plastic wrap and loosely cover the dough. Leave to rise again in a warm place for 20–25 minutes.
6 Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5.
7 Insert the coloured eggs into the hole in the centre of the dough. Glaze the top of the dough with a little egg wash, taking care not to egg wash the coloured egg. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until golden. Place on a cooling rack.
To colour the eggs, use 1 tbsp white vinegar to 250ml boiling water. Pour the vinegar, a little coloured food paste and the boiling water into a bowl (use a cocktail stick to measure out a dab of coloured paste - you only need a little). Allow the water to cool for 15 minutes. Place the uncooked eggs onto a slotted spoon and submerge into the coloured water. Do this one by one and leave for 3-5 hours, depending on how deep you want the colour to be.
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About the Author
Catherine Fulvio is the proprietor of the Ballyknocken House & Cookery School, Co Wicklow and one of Ireland’s top television culinary stars. Her bestselling books include Catherine’s Italian Kitchen, Catherine’s Family Kitchen, Eat Like an Italian and The Weekend Chef. Born and raised in Ireland and married to an Italian, Catherine’s books always reflect this match-made-in-heaven by using easily-accessible Irish ingredients assembled with Italian flair. Catherine is now a regular guest on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen. Her latest book A Taste of Home is a food story from Ballyknocken House, nestled in the gentle rolling hills of County Wicklow, where generations of Catherine Fulvio’s family have lived and farmed for over 100 years.