As a child I used to adore Easter. In the beautiful Irish countryside Spring had arrived – not this year though – daffodils were blooming, the trees were beginning to shimmer green and blossom, the wildlife were coming out of hibernation and the sun was starting to shine. It also meant painting Easter eggs, eating lots of chocolate and baking Hefezopf.
The weekends leading up to Easter were filled with blowing out eggs – I used to get so dizzy doing that – and then painting them, competing with my sister for the best decorated egg, which she always won. Baking, lots and lots of baking, mainly Hefezopf, a plaited slightly sweet German yeast bread.
Every year, either my grandmother – when she visited over Easter -, mother or sister used to bake Hefezopf for Easter Sunday breakfast. The yeast bread is easy to make and quite simply delicious, especially fresh from the oven with butter and jam, mmm. I baked it over the weekend. It is very simple to make with flour, sugar, butter, eggs and lukewarm milk. As with most yeast dough it needs to be left in a warm place to rise for about half an hour before plaiting and popping in the oven for about 40 minutes to bake. My family were very good at celebrating all the Christian festivals, not so much for the religious reasons, but rather as a festival to enjoy, eat specific foods and spend time together.
We used to get up early on Easter Sunday morning to watch the sunrise, followed by a hearty breakfast with Hefezopf, boiled and chocolate eggs and lots of coffee. After breakfast was the Easter egg hunt in the garden, which was always lots of fun. We inevitably manged to fill our baskets with plenty of chocolate eggs which were consumed with gusto over the next few days.
Another of my favourite Easter foods is Hot Cross Buns, which I have yet to bake from scratch. This year I will be spending Easter in Italy with my mum where I’m sure we’ll be eating all sorts of traditional Italian Easter dishes such as lamb, Colomba – dove shaped bread – artichoke, asparagus and of course chocolate. Like most festivals, the Italian’s celebrate Easter in style with all the family together and lots of food.
In light of that my next post will unsurprisingly be about Italy, the places we visited and the amazing food we ate, so be prepared for some serious food envy!