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Are there any Traditional Easter Desserts?

  • b

A friend is holding several family dinners over over the course of Easter and I would like to bring some dessert.

My friend is no help insisting I need not bring anything but I was wondering what if any desserts are typically eaten at Easter time?

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  1. Make kulich! Lovely sweet easter bread, Russian, quite similar to a pannetone. I haven't made this at home yet, though, so I can't recommend any recipes from personal experience.

    1 Reply
    1. re: drdawn

      There is a yummy-sounding kulich available from Zingerman's mail order (definitely not inexpensive).

      Link: http://www.zingermans.com/Index.pasp

    2. Hot cross buns? Kind of hard to find, but the local Costco had them last weekend.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Gary Soup

        Hot cross buns are a LENTEN specialty. They are a plain roll with a little icing that is to signify the austerity of the lenten season - compared with the rich pazckis that are served on the days PRIOR to Lent.

        I would serve a rich torte or something very festive for an Easter celebration.

        1. re: jlawrence01

          Hmmm - I don't think this is true, at least not around these parts (the UK).

          Hot Cross Buns are meant to commemorate Easter (hence the cross). They're not that frugal by historical standards: sugar, white flour, dried fruit.

          The recent trend in UK supermarkets to sell them from February onwards is a bit like when those same stores insist on selling Christmas novelties in September.

          1. re: jlawrence01


            I have just noticed how old this post is :-/ Anyway, just incase there is any doubt remaining, here in the UK, hot cross buns are most definitely not 'lenten'. They are an easter specialty and are piled on the shelves in their thousands during the easter period.

            RE easter dessert, I'm having a similar issue as hot cross buns would really not be an acceptable dessert for a dinner party.

        2. b
          bob oppedisano

          In New York, at least, traditional means ethnic. Speaking only of what I've known, you might try pastiera, an Italian ricotta cheese cake studded with softened, sweetened wheat grains, and available now at every Italian pasticceria. Versions at Alba and Villabate in Bensonhurst, Court St Pastry in Carroll Gardens, and DeLillo near Arthur Avenue are all fine. Italians also make a sweetened yeast bread that's not strictly speaking a dessert. But pastiera, a crown in Neapolitan cooking, is. Buona Pasqua.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bob oppedisano

            Yes, pastiera, and also cassata. Enjoy!

          2. I am in the same situation, and have decided to purchase and bring a "carrot patch" cake from a local bakery (carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, decorated with bunnies). Trite, but easy and fits the occasion.

            1. v
              Val Ann C (formerly Val G)

              My mother always bakes a lamb cake -- dense yellow cake baked in a cast aluminum mold and decorated with white frosting. Black jelly bean nose. Green coconut "grass" for a border.

              Image: http://www.chefdepot.net/graphics24/l...

              2 Replies
                1. re: babette feasts

                  I was recently mesmerized by a local access TV show that had a baker at Mike's Pastry in Boston's North End decorating a lamb cake. He worked with such ease and the program was so unproduced that I've been broken of my Food Network habit. He also did marzipan and white chocolate lambs.

              1. Jelly Beans and Chocolate Bunnies! Who really needs anything else?

                1. c

                  Well, I wouldn't call it traditional exactly, but I've found that meringue baskets filled with either pastry cream or lemon curd with berries on top always goes over well. If you're good with desserts, you can make a real showpiece by piping a woven box from meringue, one side at a time, then gluing it all together with royal icing. The faster method is to make individual baskets by piping meringue in disks, then building up the sides by piping two times around the outside. (Does that make sense?) The handles are piped separately and glued on in the case of the large basket, or just stuck into the cream in the small baskets (if you do this, pipe a shape more like a horseshoe than a U). Be sure to brush the meringue with melted white chocolate before filling.

                  1. Not sure how traditional it is, but the best dessert I ever had following an easter meal (roast leg of lamb with all the trimmings) was a delicious, eggy bread pudding.

                    1. b
                      babette feasts

                      Pashka is a russian sweetened cheese dessert. There's a recipe in this month's Gourmet. Or you could do anything cheesecake-esque, since spring means lambs and kids and milk for fresh cheese

                      There are probably a lot of countries with traditional easter cookies - you could do an assortment.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: babette feasts

                        Pashka--or any very countryish cheesecake (an italian ricotta like one would do, too)--is definitely a traditional Slavic Easter dessert. Another Russian and Polish tradition is babka, which I mean differently from the Jewish chocolatey babka--these are very tall, thin, cylindrical cakes. You can get them in Brighton beach. Another traditional Polish dessert is mazureks, or mazurkas--a simple, rich, almondy or other nutty flat cookie often topped with jam (hard to describe, but look in a Polish cookbook. Really easy to make).

                        1. re: Jenae R

                          FWIW, today on Martha Stewart, she and her mother made a ricotta cheesecake for an Easter dessert. Looked delicious - light and springlike. D.

                      2. Pashka and pastiera as noted below are very traditional.

                        Anything with lots of butter, eggs and cream, which were traditionally restricted during Lent. Sugar is a relative newcomer, as it were.

                        A nice trifle would fit the bill, I would think.

                        1. Not exactly traditional, but the one at the link below is a fun to make Easter-themed dessert that will definitely get some attention.

                          My mother always made this one for Easter when the house would be buzzing with her grandchildren.

                          Link: http://www.tstonramp.com/~bluewater/b...

                          1. Traditional Czech Easter sweets are the lamb cake (made with just about any type of batter you like) and mazanec, a sweet yeast-raised loaf with a cross-shaped slash in the center, topped with almonds. It's practically the same as the Czech Christmas bread, vanocka, except vanocka is braided and mazanec (pron. ma-zah-nets) has a few extra yolks in it.

                            There is another sweet which I don't have a recipe for, but it's very traditional - it's called Jidase (pron. yi-dah-shay; it's the plural of Judas) and it symbolizes the coins Judas received for betraying Jesus. They are little flat non-sweet round breads (not cookies because they are moist and not sweet) made with lots of eggs, and are eaten brushed with honey. I have never been a fan of these, so i don't have a recipe.

                            The (very detailed, since I have written this for bake-o-phobes) recipe for two mazanec loaves is:

                            5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
                            1 cup lukewarm milk, plus a tiny bit for glaze
                            1 ½ package (not more) active dry yeast
                            ½ lb raisins (or less or more, I use a mixture of dark and golden raisins)
                            dark rum
                            ½ lb blanched, slivered almonds
                            1 cup butter
                            ½ cup granulated sugar
                            3 eggs plus 3 yolks
                            ½ teaspoon salt
                            ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

                            Confectioner’s sugar for serving

                            Dissolve the yeast in the milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and 2 tablespoons of the sugar; cover and let rest until light and foamy.

                            Meanwhile, cover the raisins in dark rum and allow to soak for at least 2 hrs or longer (no need to refrigerate). In a large bowl, beat the butter with all the remaining sugar until soft and fluffy; gradually beat in two eggs and the yolks. Add the salt and the lemon rind. To this add the sponge and enough flour to make an elastic dough (it will be sticky). Gather dough in a ball, cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise, about 45 minutes or more. It should be soft and no longer very elastic when it’s ready.

                            Preheat oven to 350º. Strain the raisins and toss them in a shallow bowl of flour until coated. Take out the dough from its rising bowl (it will deflate some), knead in the raisins and more flour if necessary to make it un-sticky; knead a few times. Divide into two parts, shape into round loaves. With a sharp knife, make a cross-shaped slash in the center of each loaf.

                            Beat the remaining egg with a bit of milk to make a glaze. Brush the entire surface of the loaves with the glaze and dot with the slivered almonds (personally I not so much “dot” as cover the loaves with the almonds, they are delicious toasted); make them stick by pressing on them a little bit.

                            Bake in the middle of the oven at 350º for about 50-60 minutes. The loaves will rise in the oven and expand by roughly half of their original volume. When done, the surface should be golden-brown; if you are getting the feeling that the crust is too dark while the center isn’t done yet (test with a skewer), cover the surface with aluminum foil towards the end of baking.

                            Cool on a wire rack. When cool, serve fairly thin slices (about half an inch) sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

                            1. Peeps and jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, Oh My!