Easter: Make your own Easter tradition

Easter treat: Emma Crowhurst's daughter Bobby, with her hot cross buns

Easter treat: Emma Crowhurst's daughter Bobby, with her hot cross buns - Credit: Archant

Food has been used throughout human history to celebrate festivals of every religious and cultural tradition imaginable - and Easter is no exception.

But if you think the delicacies on offer at this time of year begin and end with chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, you’d be wrong. Across the world Easter is associated with all sorts of culinary delights.

Here are just a few of them:

Pashka, which in Russian means the celebration of Easter, is made from curd or ricotta cheese, sugar, dried or candied fruit in pyramid-shaped wooden moulds with an imprint of the cross and other decorations. It was traditionally served at the end of Lent with Kulich (see below).

Kulich is a traditional Russian Easter cake shaped like a tower. It’s a yeasted cake and is traditionally made for Holy Week to replace bread. The cake would be taken to church on the Saturday night to be blessed. Back at home it would be decorated with fresh flowers to commemorate the spring. Marzipan was invented by a Venetian baker during a wheat shortage. Almonds are a very versatile alternative to flour and often used in gluten-free cakes and cooking. On Easter simnel cake, it is made into 11 balls to symbolise the 11 faithful apostles.

Simnel cake was traditionally brought home by girls in service to their mothers on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Because the cake improves with age it was generally eaten at Easter. Simnel cake was originally made with yeast-leavened dough and marzipan, rather like stollen.

The hot cross bun is surrounded by all kinds of folklore. In the UK, before the Reformation, many rolls were marked with a cross to ward off evil spirits. But after the Reformation this was thought to be superstitious and buns with a cross were allowed only at Easter, on Good Friday and other burials.

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La Colomba Dove Cake is sometimes made in the shape of a dove and eaten at Easter to symbolise peace. It comes from the Lombardy region of Italy.

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