Tuscany, like all the other regions in Italy, has traditional local dishes prepared especially for the holidays. Now that Easter (la Pasqua) is upon us we would like to share our family recipe for a traditional Easter cake which, for the simplicity of its ingredients, was widely prepared by farmers generations ago. The cake is prepared with orange extract and a splash of our dessert wine. The Schiacciata di Pasqua can be enjoyed by itself or since it is not very sweet, with chocolate and a glass of Il Poggione Vin Santo. We hope you the “Schiacciata di Pasqua” – Salute e Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter)!
SCHIACCIATA DI PASQUA – a Traditional Tuscan Easter Cake
2 TBSP active dry yeast (not instant)
2 cups plus 4 TBSP all-purpose flour
8 TBSP butter, softened
4 eggs (one will be used to brush the top of the bread before baking)
1 cup white sugar
4 tsp anise seeds
2 tsp orange extract
3 TBSP of Il Poggione Vin Santo
A pinch of salt
First prepare the dough. Dissolve 1 TBSP of the yeast in 4 ounces of lukewarm water. Then mix the yeast solution with 1/2 cup of flour. Cover with a rag and leave it to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Next combine the anise seeds with the orange extract and the Vin Santo in a small bowl and allow the seeds to soak up the liquid and soften.
After 30 minutes, add to the risen dough to the rest of the flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, 4 tablepsoons of softened butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon of yeast. Mix all the ingredients by hand until you get a smooth, soft and elastic dough. Brush the inside of a large, clean bowl with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and put the dough in the bowl in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours.
After 1-2 hours add 4 tablespoons of softened butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, one egg, anise seeds (with the liquid), and pinch of salt to the dough. Incorporate the new ingredients into the dough and set the bowl in a warm place to rise for 2-3 hours.
Once the dough is ready to bake, heat the oven to 325°F. Put the dough in a large baking pan with high sides and brush the top with the egg yolk. Bake for 60 minutes, then turn the oven off and crack the door. Allow the fresh cake to rest for 30 minutes in the oven while it cools. Serve while the cake is still warm.