"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter !

Easter, very much like Christmas, is a time for baking and recreating traditions and customs observed at this time of year.  I love Easter because it truly is a time that the focus is totally on just being together with family and not having to rush around in crowded malls and spending too much money on gifts.  The weather is finally getting a little warmer and the promise of spring is in the air.  The daylight lasts longer than 4pm and we finally feel that winter is behind us.

One of the Easter traditions in our home is to bake a rice pie.  It is a very traditional neapolitan pie made at this time of year that symbolizes rebirth and represents both the resurrection of Christ and the arrival of spring.  In the recipe that I have they use an ingredient called "grano cotto" which is a pre-cooked wheat.  We use rice instead, because that is how my grandparents made it.  Also, this pie is a lot sweeter than the one my grandparents used to make so you may want to reduce the sugar if you want a less sweeter version.      

Neapolitan Easter Pie

300g rice or grano cotto
150ml milk
1 wide strip lemon rind
10g unsalted butter
350g firm fresh ricotta
300g sugar
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
335g flour
135g sugar
135 cold unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

  •  For the pastry: process flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Add eggs and vanilla and process until dough just comes together.  Form pastry into a disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for 2 hours
  • Place rice, milk, lemon rind, butter and pinch of salt in a saucepan and stir frequently over medium heat for 10min or until thick and creamy.  Remove from heat, cool and then refrigerate until cold
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer add ricotta and sugar and beat until smooth and creamy with no lumps.  Stir in eggs, vanilla and rice mixture until well combined
  • Roll out pastry and line a 9" pie plate.  Pour in rice filling and cut strips from extra pastry and line the top of the pie
  • bake at 350 for 35-40min
  • Cool in pan and refrigerate for 1hour before serving
  • Dust the top with icing sugar if desired
Serves 8-10 

I also made some vanilla bean sugar cookies.  I bought these adorable copper cutters from Williams-Sonoma.  The recipe is also from their website.

 Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 


Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Over a small bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and continue beating until all of the flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

 Cut out the desired shapes. If the dough sticks to the cutter, dip the cutter into flour before cutting out more shapes. Using a small offset spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 1 inch apart. Reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Decorate as desired with the decorating tools.

Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges, 7 to 10 minutes for smaller shapes, 12 to 16 minutes for larger shapes. If baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and 180 degrees halfway through baking.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes about 20 cookies.

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