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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Recipes of Easter

By Dyfed Lloyd Evans

Easter is the most important of the Christian festivals and celebrates the resurrection of Christ, tough many pagan elements have become part of the celebration and these aspects are often celebrated by Christians and non-Crhistians alike. Indeed, the name 'Easter' itself in English derives from Ester, Eastre or Eostre the name of the putative Germanic goddess of the Dawn.

Traditionally on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday hot cross buns are eaten. Below is a classic recipe for these yeast-based cakes:

Hot Cross Buns


For the Buns:

2 tsp dried yeast

40g caster sugar

360ml warm milk

750g plain flour

2 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp ground cinnamon

50g butter, melted

2 tbsp olive oi(

1 egg

50g caster sugar

280g sultanas

50g candied peel

For the Crosses:

80g plain flour(80ml water

For the Glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp gelatine

2 tbsp water

Place the yeast, sugar and milk in a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes (the mixture should begin to foam). Once the yeast mixture is ready add flour, spices, butter, oil, egg, extra sugar and dried fruit then mix to combine. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover then set in a warm spot for at least 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Divide into 12 balls of equal size and place these on a greased baking sheet. Cover and put in a warm position until doubled in size.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C and mix together the flour and water for the crosses. Place in a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns. Place in an the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until springy to the touch. Meanwhile place the sugar, gelatin and water in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes or until gelatin has dissolved. Brush the still-warm buns with glaze.

For Easter Sunday itself, lamb is the traditional meat for the main meal and below is a recipe for a Greek-inspired version:

Easter Greek Lamb


2.5kg leg of lamb, boned

240ml olive oil

120ml red wine vinegar

2 tbsp garlic, minced

80g finely-chopped parsley

80g finely-chopped dill

4 tbsp dried oregano

black pepper, to taste

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, parsley, dill, oregano, and pepper. Butterfly the lamb (ie open out and lay flat) and pepper generously on both sides. Cut some slits in the meat then marinate the lamb for 2 to 24 hours in the vinegar mixture in a fridge. Drain the marinade from the lamb then place in a shallow roasting dish and cook in an oven pre-heated to 220°C for about 45 minutes. Allow the lamb rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

In Devon and Cornwall Saffron Cakes are traditionally served on Easter Sunday. Here is a recipe for a classic saffron cake:

Easter Sunday Saffron Cake


225g margarine or butter

450g plain flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp saffron strands

175g sultanas

65ml cold water

240g currants

175g sugar

2 eggs

50g mixed candied peel

small amount of milk

pinch of salt

Soak the saffron in salted cold water overnight to extract the maximum flavor.

Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin, making sure greaseproof paper stands above the top of the tin.

Sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda and rub in the margarine or butter then mix in the candied peel, currants, sugar and sultanas. Stir in the strained saffron water and beaten eggs, then add enough milk to form a dropping consistency. Beat the batter well and turn into the baking tin. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180° and bake for one and a half to two hours. The cake is ready if a warm skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven at this point and leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This is only a taste of the various foods consumed over the four days of the Easter festival. There is much more to learn about the foods and practices of Easter.

Dyfed Lloyd Evans is the creator of the Celtnet Recipes site with thousands of recipes from all over the world You can find more Easter recipes on this Easter Recipes page. He also runs the Celtnet Articles site where you can add your own recipes and articles.

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