EASTER BREAD | EASTER CAKES
Easter is a mobile annual festival; the date of its observance is calculated on the lunar calendar. In the year 2007 Orthodox Easter is on 8 April.
Easter is the most revered festival in the Church calendar of Orthodox Christians. It is celebrated for three days. Typical of this holiday is the dying of eggs. Easter eggs are dyed on Thursday or Saturday of the Holy Week. The eldest woman in the house has the privilege of dying the eggs. On Maundy Thursday loaves of bread are also made - ritual and ordinary, as well as Easter cakes /kozunatzi/. The different kinds of ritual bread are called Lord's bread /“bogovitza”/, Easter ring-shaped buns /kravai/, or Easter rolls /kolatzi/. Making Easter cakes was introduced in Bulgaria as late as the 1920’s, but nowadays it has a very important place in the Bulgarian people's customs.
Dying the eggs:
Each dye is diluted in a separate, new pot. The first egg to dye should be red. It is placed next to the home icon. In the past women used natural pigments - infusions of walnut tree leaves, onion peelings (to dye yellow), blueberries (to dye purple), infusion of fir-cones (to dye beige), boiled beet (to dye red), corn-flower (to dye blue). Of course, in our days housewives apply chemical dyes. Eggs are dyed after being boiled hard. If you wish to colour eggs in an original way, pour several drops of vegetable oil in the dye. The egg-shell will keep its white colour where touched by the oil, and an interesting mosaic design will be produced. You can also “imprint” leaves of wild geranium or some other leaves. To this purpose, wrap tightly the egg together with the leaf in gauze and then drop it in the dye for several minutes. Take out the egg, but do not unpack it outright. Wait for several minutes, remove the gauze, let the egg dry and only then remove the leaf.
The festive table is not cleared before the three holy days are over. When young couples visit their sponsors, they always bring them dyed eggs.
Easter meal includes festal dishes. The most common dish is roasted lamb garnished with potatoes, rice and lettuces. Nevertheless, housewives show greater interest in the typical recipes for Easter bread and Easter cakes.
Here follow some original Bulgarian recipes which will help you meet the great Christian festival in keeping with the Bulgarian tradition
EASTER BREAD Ingredients
- 1 kg of flour
- 3 coffee-cupfuls of fresh milk
- 1 teaspoonful of sugar
- 1 teaspoonful of salt
- a yeast cube of match-box size
- 1 spoonful of melted butter or vegetable oil.Directions:
Put the sifted flour in a large bowl.
Make a “well” in the middle and put there the yeast (mixed beforehand with some water and the sugar and left to rise).
Add the salt and while trickling the cooled milk, mix and make the dough; cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise.
Knead the dough again and mould it into a round loaf. Butter, or oil, its top side and place it in a baking dish. Arrange the dyed eggs on top, surrounding each egg with a strip of dough.
Bake the bread in a quick oven.
In the preparation of Easter cakes, it is very important to follow strictly the directions for handling the yeast, because it is responsible for the good rise of the dough and the delicious taste of the cakes. If mixed at high temperature, the yeast will be scalded or overheated. The most adequate temperature is 28-30o centigrade. Mix the yeast cube (of match-box size) with a small quantity of flour, 2-3 spoonfuls of milk, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Leave it in a warm place to ferment, then add some more flour and warm milk to produce a liquid mess and leave it to rise again. Then add it to the flour. The room, where you intend to knead the dough, should be well warmed up. Before rising, the cakes measure 1/3 of the dish they will be baked in. Easter cakes are baked in a previously heated oven at a moderate temperature. If you wish to put raisins in the cakes, first scald them with water, dry them and roll them in flour.
Easter cake dough is used to prepare buns, with or without filling.
Easter cakes make delicious breakfast taken with a cup of milk. tea, coffee, or boza.
EASTER CAKES Ingredients
- 1 kg of fine flour
- 5-6 eggs
- 1 1/2 teacupfuls of milk (1/4 l)
- 250-300 g sugar
- 1/2 teaspoonful of salt
- 200 g of butter or 150 g of fresh lard
- 1 lemon
- 2 spoonfuls of raisins
- 1/2 teacupful of powdered sugar
- yeast of match-box size (30 40 g) or 1 packet of instant yeast (10-11 g)
Prepare the yeast mixture as described above.
Sift the flour into a warmed up baking dish and make a “well” in the middle.
Add the eggs (beaten with the sugar and then mixed with the rest of the milk and the grated lemon peel), the salt, the yeast mixture (prepared beforehand as described above) or instant yeast.
Add the melted butter in small portions and stir with a spoon. Then spread melted butter on your hands and start kneading. (Do not knead hard. Easter cake dough is pulled and gathered into a ball.) When the dough gets smooth, cover it with a cloth and let it rise. (It gets twice its initial size.) Then knead it once again with buttered hands.
Add the raisins. Put the dough in a buttered pan. (It can be plaited.) The dough should measure half the height of the pan, because it rises while baked. Spread one beaten egg on the cake. Bake in a moderately quick oven.
Take the cake out of the pan only when it is cooled.
If you like, you can sprinkle it with soft sugar and vanilla powder.
SOURCES OF REFERENCE:
Mantov, Dimiter. Folk Dishes from St. Dimitri’s to St. George’s Day. Svetulka 44 Publishing House, Sofia, 1997.
Kancheva, Nevyana, Ada Atanassova. Modern Cooking. Kolhida /Colchis/ Publishing House.
The Bulgarian National Cuisine section is compiled and edited by Kaliroy Papadopoulou.
Copyright ©1997-2012 OMDA Ltd. All rights reserved.
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