Saturday, 30 March 2013
Scarcelle Pugliesi (Big Easter Cookies-Cakes from Puglia, my home!)
The sky was blue and full of light. The swallows chased each other and danced in the blue sky, while below, the church bells rang everywhere, telling the world it was Easter.
With visions of chocolate and silky bows, she walked home. Easter was in the air! Everything seemed to say:"It's Springtime!" and she felt so happy deep inside... that kind of happy feeling which, no matter what happens in your life, you'll never forget.
As she walked home, she stopped to look at shop windows: enormous shiny, dark chocolate eggs had been masterfully decorated with icing, to make flowers and leaves. Myriads of sugar almond blossom adorned the hugest eggs she had ever seen!
At home, Easter was a time for being together. Before lunch, my Babbo would stand up, before we ate, to bless the family, by dipping an olive tree branch in "acqua santa" Holy Water, my mum would have brought from the church. She always went to Church at Easter!
My dear Mamma, you know by now, didn't make desserts, cakes or sweets, except a few "classics!" I remember, though, how once, at Easter, she made my brother and I these massive biscuits, decorated with colourful sugar strands and... a hard boiled egg, she had coloured red, cleverly placed on the biscuits and held in place by two strips of dough.
The biscuits are what we call "Scarcelle." Apparently, they are typical of the Puglia region, where I was born, though I believe they have something similar in Greece.
Having found the recipe, today I made some. I was so surprised when I took them out of the oven: they looked so pretty and, most of all they looked like the "scarcelle" my mum made, only a more contemporary version.
This is how I made them:
(Easter Cakes-Biscuits from Puglia)
(makes about 6)
1 kg ( 2.2 lb) plain flour
400 g ( 14 oz)sugar
2 tsp baking powder
the rind of 1 lemon
2 dl ( about 6 fl oz) olive oil
pinch of salt
1 extra egg for the egg wash
6 hard boiled eggs
(hundreds and thousands)
icing, to decorate
(you might need some milk, if your dough is too dry)
Before I started, I preheated my oven (180 C, 350 F, Gas 4 ) and put my six eggs in a pan of boiling water, to cook. These need to be hard boiled.
Next (this is really easy and quick!) I put my flour onto a board, made a well and added all the ingredients in the middle. I made a dough, using flour, eggs, oil, sugar, salt, baking powder, some vanilla essence and lemon peel. As the mixture was a bit dry, I added some milk (maybe I should have used larger eggs")
I placed my dough in the fridge, so it would rest for half an hour. I used this time to ice my Easter cookies... so cute! I feel like a "bambina!"
Anyway! Half an hour later... I took the dough out of the fridge, and decided to make my scarcelle in the shape of plaited Easter wreath and hearts. You can see from the pictures how I made my wreath, step by step. It was easy!
Having made my plait, I joined the ends and, next I pushed one of my boiled eggs into the pastry and kind of secured it by crossing two strips of pastry over the egg, to make a cross.
I did the same with my heart shapes, then "painted my scarcelle with egg yolk, sprinkled some pink and blue sugar over my biscuits and baked for about half an hour.
My scarcelle smelt so good and looked so sweet, I wanted to try one, but I didn't...
I let my biscuits cool down, first, then decorated with icing and rice paper daisies. They looked lovely! Though they were not as nice as the ones my mamma made, as they contained the extra ingredient! Remember LOVE?
BUONA PASQUA A TUTTI!