Instead of an oversize bunny rabbit leaving a basket of candied eggs, citizens of Orvieto wake up on Easter morning to a breakfast of Pizza di Pasqua (it’s not really a pizza, but it’s not exactly a cake either).
Pizza di Pasqua is a yeast-filled bread (similar to Christmas pannettone) that’s served during the holy days of Pasqua (Easter Sunday) and Pasquetta (Easter Monday).
A cherished tradition typical of central Italy (Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche), Pizza di Pasqua comes in both dolci (sweet) and al formaggio (cheese) versions.
Folks in Orvieto take great pride in their Pizza di Pasqua, so you can imagine there’s lots of fighting discussion about who has the best recipe (there are as many as there are cooks). For the past 14 years, Palazzo del Gusto Orvieto has sponsored a bake-off to decide whose is the yummiest. Both professionals and amateurs are invited to compete for the coveted culinary distinction of “Best Pizza di Pasqua di Orvieto”.
“You must have patience and allow the pizza to rise in a warm spot for at least 18 hours”, she warns. “It’s in this way that you can be sure it will turn out very soft and airy.”
Pizza di Pasqua: It isn’t Easter in Umbria without it.
4 yeast cubes (from the refrigerated section, not the powdered kind!)
1 kg of flour 00
250 grams of sugar
1 cup olive oil
300 ml of water
300 ml of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or one package)
1 lemon zest
1 small glass of anisette liqueur and ‘rosolio di cannella’ (cinnamon liqueur)
Dissolve 2 cubes of yeast in 250 ml of warm water.
Meanwhile, in a large plastic bowl put 300 grams of flour.
Add the yeast mixture into the flour and mix with a fork until all the water is absorbed into the dough (be careful not to let it get hard). Add flour gradually making sure the dough remains soft!
Cover with a cloth and put in a warm space (inside a shut-off oven is best) and let the dough rise (about 1 hour).
Melt the remaining 2 cubes of yeast in 300 ml of warm milk. Remove the bowl from the oven and add the eggs, sugar, olive oil, lemon zest and milk with yeast. Blend with an electric mixer, adding more flour gradually, by hand.
Pour in two glasses of the liqueur and the vanilla.
At some point, if you did everything right, you will see that you will be forced to stop mixing because the dough will stick to the whips and it won’t be possible to continue. At this point use your hands to knead the dough, still continuing to add flour until you find that the dough comes off easily from your hands. But beware, it must not become a nice smooth ball! It must always remain soft and wet!
Grease two baking pans (large and tall) and put a quantity of dough that must not exceed one quarter of the height of the container to allow the dough to rise more than twice its size. It’s ready when the dough reaches the edge of the container.
Put in a preheated oven at 100C, then increase the temperature to 180C. The pan should be placed on a lower rack but not resting on the bottom of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes.
Pasticceria Nando, Via dei Sette Martiri, 68, Orvieto Scalo
Bar Montanucci, Corso Cavour, 23, Orvieto
Palazzo del Gusto Orvieto, Via Ripa Serancia I, 16, Orvieto TR