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Food Timeline Easter foods: history & symbolism.....Have questions? Ask!

  • Easter breads
  • Hot cross buns
  • Kulich
  • Colomba
  • Easter Lamb
  • Easter Ham

  • Easter food symbolism
    Much written about the symbolism/traditions of Easter foods. These foods work on three levels:
    (1) Those items specifically related to Christ (lamb, the "Lamb of God")
    (2) Those items traceable to pagan rites of spring (eggs=rebirth, ham=luck, lamb=sacrifice, cake/bread=fertility)
    (3) Modern interpretations & evolutions (candy and toys in fancy baskets)

    "Easter foods are primarily those of Easter Sunday, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, a day of special rejoicing for Christians, who rejoice too at reaching the end of the long Lenten fast. The concept of renewal/rebirth is responsible for the important role played by the egg in Easter celebrations, a role which no doubt antedates Christianity. There are also special foods associated with the other days in the Easter calendar...In Europe, there is a general tradition, not confined to Christians, that Easter is the time to start eating the season's new lamb, which is just coming onto the market then...Easter breads, cakes, and biscuits are a major category of Easter foods, perhaps especially noticeable in the predominantly Roman Catholic countries of south and central Europe...Traditional breads are laden with symbolism in their shapes, which may make reference to Christian faith...In England breads or cakes flavoured with bitter tansy juice used to be popular Easter foods...Simnel cake has come to be regarded as an Easter specialty, although it was not always so. The most popular English Easter bread is the hot cross bun..."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 266-7)
    [NOTE: This book (any many others) have extensive information about traditional Easter foods. If you need more information please ask your librarian to help you find these.]

    Where did the Easter bunny come from?
    "Among the most familiar Easter symbols [is] the rabbit. The Easter bunny or rabbit is...most likely of pre-Christain origin. The rabbit was known as an extraodinarily fertile creature, and hence it symbolized the coming of spring. Although adopted in a number of Christian cultures, the Easter bunny has never received any specific Christian interpretation."
    ---"Easter," Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, Lindsay Jones, editor in chief [Thomson Gale:Detroit] 1987, volume 4 (p. 2580)

    This delightful custom, like the Christmas tree, was introduced to America by people of German descent.
    "The Pennsylvania Dutch imported the Oschter Haws, or Easter Hare, who delivered colored eggs to good children...By the early nineteenth century, entire Pennsylvania Dutch villages would turn out with gaily decorated Easter eggs to play games, including egg-eating contests."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 419)

    EASTER EGGS
    Eggs are traditionally connected with
    rebirth, rejuvenation and immortality. This is why they are often associated with Easter. On a more practical level? In the early Christian calendar eggs were forbidden during Lent. This made them bountiful and exciting forty days later. Easter eggs are sometimes decorated with bright colors to honor this celebration. Russian Faberge and Ukranian Pysanky are two of the most elaborate forms. Conversely, the abstinence of eggs is associated with Lent.

    "Eggs were colored, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of spring long before Christian times. Even the earliest civilizations held springtime festivals to welcome the sun's rising from its long winter sleep. They thought of the sun's return from darkness as an annual miracle and regarded the egg as a natural wonder and a proof of the renewal of life. As Christianity spread, the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ's Resurrection from the tomb. For centuries, eggs were among the foods forbidden by the church during Lent, so it was a special treat to have them again at Easter. In Slavic countries, baskets of food including eggs are traditionally taken to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday or before the Easter midnight Mass, then taken home for a part of Easter breakfast. People in central European countries have a long tradition of elaborately decorated Easter eggs. Polish, Slavic and Ukrainian people create amazingly intricate designs on the eggs. They draw lines with a wax pencil or stylus, dip the egg in color and repeat the process many times to make true works of art. Every dot and line in the pattern has a meaning. Yugoslavian Easter eggs bear the initials "XV" for "Christ is Risen," a traditional Easter greeting. The Russians, during the reign of the tsars, celebrated Easter much more elaborately than Christmas, with Easter breads and other special foods and quantities of decorated eggs given as gifts. The Russian royal family carried the custom to great lengths, giving exquisitely detailed jeweled eggs made by goldsmith Carl Faberge from the 1880's until 1917.

    In Germany and other countries of central Europe, eggs that go into Easter foods are not broken, but emptied out. The empty shells are painted and decorated with bits of lace, cloth or ribbon, then hung with ribbons on an evergreen or small leafless tree. On the third Sunday before Easter, Moravian village girls used to carry a tree decorated with eggshells and flowers from house to house for good luck. The eggshell tree is one of several Easter Traditions carried to America by German settlers especially those who became known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They also brought the fable that the Easter bunny delivered colored eggs for good children. Easter is an especially happy time for children and many Easter customs are for their enjoyment. Hunting Easter eggs hidden around the house or yard is a universal custom and so are egg-rolling contests."
    ---
    Easter eggs, American Egg Board

    "Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. The sponsors in some countries give Easter eggs to their god-children. Coloured eggs are used by children at Easter in a sort of game which consists in testing the strength of the shells (Kraus, Real-Encyklop die, s. v. Ei). Both coloured and uncoloured eggs are used in some parts of the United States for this game, known as "egg-picking". Another practice is the "egg-rolling" by children on Easter Monday on the lawn of the White House in Washington."
    ---The Catholic Encyclopedia

    Why do we have Easter egg hunts?
    "From very early days the finding of eggs has been identified with riches. The relationship is readily apparent. Eggs are a treasure, a bounty of nature, and when hens are unconfined they deposit these treasures in unexpected places. To find such a hidden nest before a hen has started to set and incubate the eggs is a perfect analogy to finding hidden treasure."
    ---The Chicken Book, Page Smith & Charles Daniel [Univeristy of Georgia Press:Athens GA] 2000 (p. 166-7)

    About the White House Easter Egg Roll

    Why do we decorate eggs?
    Historians tell us the people have been decorating eggs for thousands of years. The practice was inspired by religion. Techniques and styles vary according to culture and period. Decorative eggs were also fabricated from other foods, most notably confectionery. Notes here:

    "Because eggs embody the essence of life, people from ancient times to the modern day have surrounded them wtih magical beliefs, endowing them with the power not only to create life but to prophesy the future. Eggs symbolize birth and are belived to ensure fertility. They also symbolize rebirth, and thus long life and even immortality. Eggs represent life in its various stages of development, encompassing the mystery and magic of creation...The concept of eggs as life symbols went hand in hand with the concept of eggs as emblems of immortality. Easter eggs, in fact, symbolize immortality, and particularly the resurrection of Christ, who rose from a sealed tomb just as a bird breaks through an eggshell."
    ---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 85-6)

    "Apparently eggs were colored red to represent the life force as early as 5000 B.C. and given as emblems of friendship during the festivals of the spring equinox. No one knows how long ago the custom began in China of giving red eggs to children on their birthdays; red for the Chinese symbolizes long life and happiness. The Persians have also exchanged elaborately gilded and painted eggs for thousands of years. Christianity readily adopted eggs...to its own symbolic uses. The shell became the symbol of the tomb from which Christ had risen and the meat of the egg the representaion of resurrection, of the new life of the new Christian, and of the hope of eternal life...Thus, it might be said that most cultures have their own "egg signature"-- their own style and form of egg decoration or of fabricating eggs from other materials. While these "styles" were originally religious in character, they hae become intricate, elaborate, often costly, and almost uniformly secular. Even within the Western Christian tradition there are...numerous variations in egg decoration. In certain areas of Germany, Easter eggs were hung on trees and bushes, and the Pennsylvania Dutch (really Germans) brought this custom to America...One of the most common variations of the fabricated...egg is the egg that opens to reaveal a "surprise" or treasure. The most spectactular of this genre is probably the famous Nuremberg egg made in 1700. it opens to reveal a gold yolk, which in turn yields an enamel chick, which contains a jeweled egg, and that contains a handsome ring. The painting of Easter eggs (as opposed to dying) dates from the thirteenth century, but the art of fabricating ornate artifical eggs with "treasures" inside was a sixteenth-century invention... Louis XV...secularized the custom by encouraging the decorating of eggs as ordinary gifts...the jeweled egg--was brought to its greatest point of refinement by Carl Faberge..."
    ---The Chicken Book , (p. 184-186)

    Easter candy
    The tradition of exchanging decorated candies, chocolates,
    jelly beans and other sweets at Easter flourished in the 19th century. Coincidentally, this is the same time folks began exchanging the same type of specialized sweets for Valentines Day. Advances made possible by the Industrial Revolution are responsible for this. Panorama eggs (hollow sugar eggs with scenes inside) feature prominently in traditional Easter baskets. Marshmallow Peeps were introduced in 1953.

    [1820s London]
    "Egg Comfits:

    'Have the two halves of an egg made in box-wood; take some gum paste, roll it out, thin, and put into the casts, make it lay close, cut off with a knife the outside edges quite smooth, let them dry...They are usually filled with imitations of all sorts of fruits--In Paris they put in a number of nick-nakcs, little almanacks, smelling bottles with essences, and even things of value, for presents. Join the two halves with some of the same paste, moistend with a little water and gum arabic'... These eggs were covered with syrup in the comfit pan, which, considering the fragility of sugar paste, must have been a delicate operation. It is still perfectly feasible to make such eggs, although no one but the most dedicated of experimental confectioners would ever attempt to pan them. The underlying concept has survived, but removed to an entirely different branch of confectionery, to enjoy enormous success as the chocolate Easter egg."
    ---Sugar Plums and Sherbet: The Prehistory of Sweets, Laura Mason [Prospect Books:Devon] 2004 (p. 130)

    "No. 212. Eggs in Rock Sugar. Make moulds which open in two equal parts, shaped like large eggs; place them on a table, and take sugar prepared as at No. 209, and fill one half of each mould, while your assistant closes them instantly and completely. They are very light, and look very natural.

    "No. 213.--Eggs in Grained Sugar.
    To make egg-shells as thin as natural ones, take moulds in lead, opening in two, and run one side in grained sugar, as for bon-bons, (see No. 53); another person must instantly close it, turning it round in his hands till the sugar has taken all round the mould inside; there must be a person to every two moulds, as only one can be turned in the hand at a time; the egg comes out whole, having neither opening nor seam; it is empty and transparent, nor can any one imagine how it is made. Fruit, or any thing else, may be imitated in the same manner. If you choose to break one end of the egg, it may be filled with yellow cream to represent the yolk of a boiled egg."
    ---The Italian Confectioner, or Complete Economy of Desserts, G. A. Jarrin, facsimile 3rd edition 1827 [Brieingingsville PA] 2010 (p. 95)

    [1920s USA]
    "Hollow Chocolate Eggs.

    Take a small cocoanut, saw carefully in two lengthwise and clean out center thoroughly. Dry well, then grease the inside with Nucoa Butter. Take sweet chocolate coating that has been thoroughly chilled and cover the inside to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Set in a cool place and allow to harden. When hard and cool, remove the chocolate crust carefully from the shell. Do not handle too much as they scratch easily. Repeat the foregoing operation for as many eggs as you wish, then take two of the halved shells, spread moist coating along the shells and stick them together. Before sticking them together, drop two or three little pieces of candy inside the shells so as to produce a rattle when the shells are closes. Now when the shells are stuck together run a band of any color icing around the joint. The entire egg can be iced if so desired, or the coating can be given a rough appearance."

    "Easter Bunny Wafers
    Run cream into a flat rabbit mold in starch, flavoring and coloring to suit. Allow the cream to set, then remove from teh starch. Now run a hard buterscotch wafer...on a greased slab. Run these wafers about 2 1/2 inches in diameter then have a helper put a cream rabbit flatly in the center of each wafer. Work quickly as the butterscotch sets rapidly. Placing a couple of very small candy eggs besides the rabbit looks nice and increases the novelty of the piece.

    "Fried Eggs Made of Candy in a Frying Pan
    Get some toy skillets; cast a copule of cirles of white cream in the center (cast only one if room will not permit two). After the white has hardened cast a little bright orange crema on top of the white. You will now have a fried egg made of candy. When the egg or eggs harden, with a brush coat them wtih a thin syrup, then take sugar and powdered charcoal, rubbed down, and shake this lightly over the syrup to give a salt and pepper effect."
    ---Rigby's Reliable Candy Teacher, W.O. Rigby, 19th edition [Rigby Publishing Company:Topeka KS] undated 1920s? (p. 211-212)
    [NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Fried Eggs on Toast for Easter, Chocolate Nougat Eggs for Easter, Almond Paste Chicks and Hard Nougat Eggs.]

    How can I make the sugar eggs with scenes inside?
    Modern instructions for creating panorama Easter Eggs are offered in Step-By-Step Sugar Artistry, Peggy Ann Barton [Exposition Press:Jericho NY] 1974. Chapters: Equipmet and supplies, sugar egshells, inside scenery, assembling the egg outside decorations, storage and decorations for other seasons: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas & Valentines Day. NOTE: Ms. Barton's book is written for the home cook, not a professional candy maker with commercial grade confectionery equipment. Her instructions include how to make the equipment needed & basic candy recipes made with ingredients purchased in a supermarket.

    Why do some people serve ham for Easter dinner?
    Historians tell us religions sometimes use food (taboos/traditional holiday meals) to forge identity and create community. Early Christians embraced ham, in part, to proclaim their religious beliefs.

    According to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Mircea Eliade editor in chief [MacMillan:New York] 1987, volume 5 (p. 558):
    "Among Easter foods the most significant is the Easter lamb, which is in many places the main dish of the Easter Sunday meal. Corresponding to the Passover lamb and to Christ, the Lamb of God, this dish has become a central symbol of Easter. Also popular among European and Americans on Easter is ham, because the pig was considered a symbol of luck in pre-Christian Europe."

    Easter Breads
    Bread has long played an important role in religious ceremonies and holidays. This is true in many cultures and cuisines. Holiday breads are often baked in symbolic shapes and include special ingredients. Easter breads often feature eggs, a commodity forbidden by the Catholic Church during lent.
    English Hot Cross Buns, Italian Colomba & Russian Kulich are two prime examples of this culinary genre.

    Bread symbolism
    "Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ but it also celebrates fertility, and the season of renewal...On Holy Thursday to commemorate the Last Supper, when Christ shared bread with his disciples, they prepare in absolute silence a brioche or egg bread called koulitch. On the Saturday night of Resurrection, they walk in procession to church with a basket of eggs, holding a candle in one hand, and the bread in the other. They exchange a kiss and ask each other's forgiveness for any offese they might have committed against one another, as a token of peace for the future."
    ---The History of Bread, Bernard Dupaigne, Harry N. Abrams :New York] 1999 (p. 137, 139)

    "Easter has always had a close association with food. The word comes from the name for the Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and spring, Eostre, and special dishes were cooked in her honour so that the year would be endowed with fertility. Most important of these dishes was a small spiced bun, from which our hot cross bun derives but from which also the traditional spicy sweet bread of Greece probably had its origins. The baking of buns associated with religious offerings goes back to remotest antiquity. The Egyptians offered small round cakes to the goddess of the moon, each marked with a representation of the horns of an ox, which were her symbol. In ancient Greece, a similar small, sacred bread containing the finest sifted flour and honey, had the name bous meaning "ox" and from which the word bun is said to have originated. In time, the representation of the horns became a simple cross, although it also has been suggested that this was intended to symbolise the four quarters of the moon. The old association of protection and fertility, and thus birth and rebirth, was transposed into a Christianised form and the ritual of baking "hot cross buns" became standard practice of the Easter celebration in English society. In the Baltic region of Russia, their Easter cake is kulich, a yeast dough of enormous proportions lavishly decorated with crystallised citrus peel. In traditional households it is presented on a table decorated with decorated eggs and the younger members of the family visit to share the eggs and bread."
    ---"An ancient tradition," J. Passmore, Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), March 26, 1997, LIFE; Pg. 40

    Hot Cross Buns

    "The practice of eating special small cakes at the time of the Spring festival seems to date back at least to the ancient Greeks, but the English custom of eating spiced buns on Good Friday was perhaps institutionalized in Tudor times, when a London bylaw was introduced forbidding the sale of such buns except on Good Friday, at Christmas, and at burials. The first intimation we have of a cross appearing on the bun, in remembrance of Christ's cross, comes in Poor Robin's Amanack (1733): Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns' (a version of the once familiar street-dry "One-a-penny, two-a penny, hot cross buns'). At this stage the cross was presumably simply incised with a knife, rather than piped on in pastry, as is the modern commercial practice. As yet, too, the name' of such buns was just cross buns: James Boswell recorded in his Life of Johnson (1791): 9 Apr. An. 1773 Being Good Friday I breakfasted with him and cross-buns.' The fact that they were generally sold hot, however, seems to have led by the early nineteenth century to the incorporation of hot into their name."
    ---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 164)

    "The pagans worshipped the goddess Eostre (after whom Easter was named) by serving tiny cakes, often decorated with a cross, at their annual spring festival. When archaeolgists excavated the ancient city of Herculaneum in southwestern Italy, which had been buried under volcanic ask and lava since 79 C.E., they found two small loaves, each with a cross on it, among the ruins. The English word "bun" probably came from the Greek boun, which referred to a ceremonial cake of circular or crescent shape, made of flour and honey and offered to the gods. Superstitions regarding bread that was baked on Good Friday date back to a very early period. In England particulary, people believed that bread baked on this day could be hardened in the oven and kept all year to protect the house from fire. Sailors took leaves of it on their voyages to prevent shipwreck, and a Good Friday loaf was often buried in a heap of corn to protect it from rats, mice, and weevils. Finely grated and mixes with water, it was sometimes used as a medicine. In England nowadays, hot cross buns are served at break are served at breakfast on Good Friday morning. They are small, usually spiced buns whose sugary surface is marked with a cross. The English believe that hanging a hot cross bun in the house on this day offers protection from bad luck in the coming year. It's not unusual to see Good Friday buns or cakes hanging on a rack or in a wire basket for years, gathering dust and growing black with mold--although some people believe that if the ingredients are mixed, the dough prepared, and the buns baked on Good Friday itself, they will never get moldy."
    ---Holiday Symbols and Customs, Sue Ellen Thompson, 3rd edition [Omnigraphics:Detroit] 2003, (p. 233)

    "Hot cross bun, a round bun made from a rich yeast dough containing flour, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, currants, and spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. In England, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday; they are marked on top with a cross, wither cut in the dough or composed of strips of pastry. The mark is of ancient origin, connected with religious offerings of bread, which replaced earlier, less civilized offerings of blood. The Egyptians offered small round cakes, marked with a representation of the horns of an ox, to the goddess of the moon. The Greeks and Romans had similar practices and the Saxons ate buns marked with a cross in honor of the goddess of light, Eostre, whose name was transferred to Easter. According to superstition, hot cross buns and loaves baked on Good Friday never went mouldy, and were sometimes kept as charms from one year to the next. Like Chelsea buns, hot cross buns were sold in great quantities by the Chelsea Bun House; in the 18th century large numbers of people flocked to Chelsea during the Easter period expressly to visit this establishment."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 114)

    "Bath buns, hot cross buns, spice buns, penny buns, Chelsea buns, currant buns-all these small, soft, plump, sweet, fermented' cakes are English institutions...The most interesting of the recipes is perhaps the simple spiced fruit bun, the original of our Good Friday hot cross bun without the cross. These spice buns first became popular in Tudor days, at the same period as the larger spice loaves or cakes, and were no doubt usually made form the same batch of spcied and butter-enriched fruit dough. For a long time bakers were permitted to offer these breads and buns for sale only on special occasions, as is shown by the following decree, issued in 1592, the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Elizabeth I, by the London Clerk of the Markets: That no bakers, etc, at any time or times hereafter make, utter, or sell by retail, within or without their houses, unto any of the Queen's subject any spice cakes, buns, biscuits, or other spice bread (being bread out of size and not by law allowed) except it be at burials, or on Friday before Easter, or at Christmas, upon pain or forfeiture of all such spiced bread to the poor...If anybody wanted spice bread and buns for a private celebration, then, these delicacies had to be made at home. In the time of James I, further attempts to prevent bakers from making spice breads and buns proved impossible for enforce, and in this matter thhe bakers were allowed their way. Although for difference reasons, the situation now is much as it was in the late seventeenth century, spice buns appearing only at Easter--not, to be sure, on Good Friday when bakeries are closed, but about a fortnight in advance..."
    ---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin Books:Middlesex UK] 1979 (p. 473-5) [NOTE: This book contains a recipe for hot cross buns.]

    [1875]
    "Hot Cross Buns

    Mix two pounds of flour with a small tea-spoonful of powdered spice and half a tea-spoonful of salt. Rub in half a pound of good butter. Make a hollow in the flour, and pour in a wine-glassful of yeast and half a pint of warmed milk slightly coloured with saffron. Mix the surrounding flour with the milk and yeast to a thin batter; throw a little dry flour over, and set the pan before the fire with the milk and yeast to a thin batter; throw a little dry flour over, and set the pan before the fire to rise. When risen, work in a little sugar, one egg, half a pound of currants, and milk to make a soft dough. Cover over as before, and let it stand half an hour. Then make the dough into buns, and mark them with the back of a knife. Time, fifteen to twenty-minutes to bake. Probable cost, 1d. each. Sufficient for twenty-four buns." (p. 319-320)

    "Good Friday Buns
    (Commonly called Hot Cross Buns). --Rub a quarter of a pound of butter into two pounds of flour. Add a pinch of salt; then mix a wine-glassful of fresh, thick yeast with a pint and a half of warmed milk; and stir these into the flour til it forms a light batter. Put the batter in a warm place to rise. When sufficiently risen, work into it half a pound of sugar, half a pound of currants, half a nutmeg, grated, and a quarter of an ounce of powddered mace. Knead these well into the dough, make it up into buns, and place them on buttered baking-tins. Make a cross on them with the black of a knife, brush a little clarified butter over the top, and let them stand a quarter of an hour before the fire. Bake in a good oven. When bread is made at home, hot cross buns may be made by mixing the currants, &c. with bread dough after it was risen. Time, one hour to let the dough rise; twenty minutes to bake. Sufficient for two dozen buns. Probable cost, 1s. 6d. for this quality." (p. 260)
    ---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875

    RECOMMENDED READING:
    "Easter," The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2004 (p. 419-420)

    Colomba
    Colomba is one of several special breads celebrating Easter in Italy. This dove-shaped panettone-like confection is generally described as the most popular Easter bread in the country. Some theories exist regarding its genesis. The dove symbolizes spring, Christ, and peace.

    "The colomba, a pannetone-like sweet bread shaped like a dove, is Italy's best known Easter bread. Originally from Lombardy, it is now mass-produced and eaten everywhere in the country."
    ---"Festivity and Food," Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Gillian Riley [Oxford University Press:New York] 2007 (p. 199)

    "Colomba pasquale. 'Easter dove.' Dove-shaped Easter cake, said to have been created in Milan to honor the legend of two white doves who settled on a Milanese war chariot until the city won the battle of Legnano in 1176. Pavia also claims the cake was created in the shape of a dove by a young girl who brought it to the Lombard conqueror of Pavia, Alboin, in 572, who was so impressed that he allowed her to go free."
    ---Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 79)

    "Lombardy claims la colomba, a delicate panettone-like sweet bread shaped like a dove. It has become the national Easter bread of Italy and is made industrially and shipped all over the country. Even so, many local specialties remain. The dove, a pagan symbol of the coming of spring as well as the sign of the Holy Spirit in Catholicism, is the inspiration for a sweet called mascardini in Palermo, pasta raffinata in Noto, and caneddate in Syracuse, where it is shaped like a dove sitting with little candies at its base. It tastes nothing like the la colomba, for it is made of pasta forte, a mixture of sugar, flour, and water spiced with cinnamon and cloves; some bakers add finely pestled almonds."
    ---Celebrating Italy, Carol Field [Harper Perennial:New York] 1990, 1997 (p. 423)

    Kulich
    "The most famous Russian easter bread, kulich, also has a tall narrow shape. This shape is Slavic and of great antiquity...The kulich is based on a baba dough, with more sugar, plus additions of candied peel, almonds, raisins, and saffron. The bulging top is iced and decorated, usually with Cyrillic letters standing for 'Christ is risen'. Traditionally the kulich is take to be blessed at midnight mass on the eve of Easter Sunday. In some families it replaces bread for the entire Holy Week. It is served with Paskha, a sweetened confection based on curd cheese."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 266)

    "Russian Easter Loaf. Kulich. Many Russian families still treasure an heirloom recipe for kulich. The traditional loaf is saffron- flavoured and somewhat dry in texture, but it may also be made rich in butter and cake-like, as in the second recipe below. Old-fashioned cooks still treat their kulichi very gently upon removal from the oven. They turn the bread out on to a large down-filled pillow and carefully roll it from side to side until it is completely cool, so that the loaf does not lose its shape. Kulich may be decorated with a silver or coloured dragees or, for a dramatic effect, crowned with a large red rose."
    ---A Taste of Russia, Darra Goldstein [Jill Norman Book:London] 1985 (p. 108) [NOTE: this book contains a recipe for Kulich. We can scan/send if you like.]

    "Krendel' and Kulich are ancient festive cakes. They use the same reigh yeast dough, to which nuts, spices and dried fruit may be added, but the krendel' is wound into a figure of eight whereas the kulich is baked in a tall mould like a baba. The first is common at name-day parties and other celebrations. Kulich appears only at Easter, when it is the pride of the table. In some families it replaces bread for the entire Holy Week...To bake a kulich you will need a tall cylindrical tin or...a deep round tin which allows plenty of room for the dough to rise...Kulich should be lightly browned on top when done...A cylindrical kulich is sliced from the top in rounds with the first slice preserved as a lid. It is traditionally eaten with paskha, an enriched mixture of curd cheese, spices, nuts, dried fruit and sugar. The word paskha means Easter, and the blend of dairy fats celebrates the end of Lenten prohibitions."
    ---The Food and Cooking of Russia, Lesley Chamberlain [Univeristy of Nebraska Press:Lincoln NE] 1982, 1986 (p. 262-265) [NOTE: Recipes follow; happy to send.]

    "Paskha (as weetened cheese mixture) and kulich (a rich yeast bread with raisins and almonds) were the highlights of the Easter table. These distinctive desserts were especially savored as they maked the end of the long Long Lenten fast when all meat, egs, and dairy products were forbidden to devout Orthodox believers. In the countryside especially, baskets containning colored eggs, paskha, and kulich were taken to the midnight Church service on Easter Eve. As the worshippers gathered, they stood in the darkness, each with an unlit taper in hand, waiting for the service to begin. At midnight the priest lit the first taper to mark the resurrection of Christ. From this taper, all the others were lit, and soon the entire church was aglow. The priest then led a candlelit procession out of the church and circled the building three times; he finished by blessing all the dishes and baskets of foods that were arrayed inside and outside the church. The parishioners reclaimed their baskets of foods and hurried home to begin the Easter festiviities."
    ---Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' A Gift to Young Housewives, translated and introduced by Joyce Toomre [Indiana University Press:Bloomington IN] 1992, 1998 (p. 423)

    [1861]
    "Kulich.

    Prepare dough from 6 lbs flour, 1/2 glass good yeast, and 5 glasses milk heated to the temprature of milk fresh from the cow, or a little warmer. When the dough rises, add 10 egg yolks, 5 whole eggs, about 1 lb melted Finnish butter, 2-3 teacups sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and [for flavoring] 1/2 teaspoon finely ground cardamom, 10 drops lemon or rose oil, or 1 lot vanilla drops. Add about 1 glass each raisins and almonds, saving some for deoration. Knead everything together and let rise. The dough must be rather thick so that it does not stick at all to the table. When the dough has thoroughly risen, light the oven. Punch down the dough, shape it into kuliches, and set them to rise in a warm place until the oven is completely ready. There is no need whatsoever to hurry to set the kuliches in the oven. Befor baking, they need to rise fully, which can take rather a long time because of the heavy dough. After the kuliches have risen, paint them with an egg beaten with milk and deocrate with raisins and whole or shredded almonds. Almost everyone likes these kuliches; the dough is completely different form a bun dough (bulochnoe). Saffron kulich is made exactly the same, except the cardamom is omitted. For these proportions add 1/2 teaspoon saffron ground into a powder. Before using the saffron, wrap it well in paper so that it does not lose its fragrance and dry it out in a very warm oven. Mash with butter [when you use it]. More or less saffron may be added according to taste.
    ---Classic Russian Cooking, (p. 410-411)[NOTE: this source also offers recipes for Krendels and several Paskhas.]


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