Calabrian Easter Cookie | Authentic Italian Recipe
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
These southern Italian cookies are known by a different name in every town. Calabrians can at least all agree that they are delicious, particularly for Easter! These semi-sweet cookies are versatile in that they make a great breakfast or can be served as a light dessert.
The addition of the baked egg decorations are optional, as is the shape itself. The grand "crown" shape is the traditional Easter centerpiece but you can also make simpler, smaller shapes. Get creative!
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we made this recipe here:
This recipe makes enough dough for a large crown cookie, plus one or two smaller shapes.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1kg/35oz. all-purpose flour
- 350g/12oz. sugar
- Grated lemon zest (1/2 large lemon)
- 2 tbsp lard
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4oz. whole milk
- 15g/0.5oz. baking powder
- 15g/0.5oz. baker's ammonia (baking soda can be substituted, but ammonia is preferable)
- 5 eggs (plus however many eggs you would like for decoration)
Pour the flour into a pile on a large work surface and use your hand to form a depression in the middle. The pile should resemble a volcano. Into this depression add the sugar, lemon zest, lard and vanilla extract.
In a small glass, mix 2oz. of milk with the baking powder. Do the same with the remaining milk and the baker's ammonia. Pour both into the flour "volcano."
Crack 4 eggs into the mix, sprinkle a pinch of salt in, and begin whisking all together with a fork. Gradually incorporate flour from the outside of the pile until the mixture thickens enough to be worked by hand.
Knead the dough thoroughly until it is very smooth and even.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
Now comes the fun part! If you want to make a large crown, as pictured, cut the dough into manageably-sized chunks and roll by hand into long, thick strands. Keep in mind that the longer the strands are, the more impressive your braid will be but the more difficult it will be to handle! Also, be sure to save some extra dough if adding egg ornaments.
Braid the strands together and lay in a circle on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten the braid slightly with your hand. Take whole eggs and press them into the braid where you see fit, and cover each with smaller strands of rolled dough.
You may have extra dough left over in which case you can make some extra, smaller cookies. Try different braids and twists; get creative!
Whisk the last egg and use this to brush the surface of the cookie. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside. Allow to cool fully before serving or saving for several days.