Before Colomba Pasquale (“Dove bread”) became the hero on all Italian Easter tables, Cavagnetti were the traditional Easter pastries of the Italian Riviera.
The name derives from the genoese dialect word “cavagna”, meaning baskets. Indeed they are small baskets of sweet leavened dough with an egg in their center, symbol of the rebirth.
Traditionally people prepared Cavagnetti some days before Easter, brought them to Church for blessing and then gave them as a present to children. Some times the eggs inside were colored with natural dye. Sometime fiancé used to give it as a present to each others, in which cases the eggs in the basket were two and colored in red, the color of love.
I prepared this recipe jointly with Gaia Borzicchi (aka @alicesadventuresinwalderland) and all the – wonderful – pictures you see in this post are hers. As they are many here it is my step-by-step “reportage”.
As you can see this is a funny recipe. Few ingredients and some manual skill for shaping the baskets. For me it’s perfect for playing cooking with kids in these harsh days and you can make it even funnier naturally dying the eggs.
In the pictures you will see a golden-brown dough because I used a semi whole wheat flour. If you use an all purpose flour, which is definitely fine as well, your dough will be clearer.
- 700 g of all-purpose flour
- 200 g of granulated sugar
- 8 eggs (preferably white)
- 3 egg whites
- 200 g of butter
- 30 g of baking powder
- 1 untreated lemon
- ½ glass of whole milk
- white or colored dragee to decorate
- Sift the flour together with the baking powder t in a large bowl or in the mixer. Separately, beat 2 whole eggs with the sugar and the butter previously melted. Beat 2 egg whites until stiff and add them to the eggs and sugar stirring gently. Pour into the bowl with flour and baking powder. Add the grated lemon peel. Mix gently adding if necessary some warm milk until a soft and smooth dough is obtained.
- Roll out part of the dough with a rolling pin up to a thickness of about 1/3 inch and cut out (with the help of a cookie cutter or a cup) 6 disks of 8 cm (ab 3 inches) in diameter. Place one egg in the center of each disc. With the remaining dough shape very thin rolls that you will place cross-shaped on the eggs until they touch the disc of pasta. Then prepare other thicker rolls, about a finger in diameter, and weave them two at a time to create a braid that you will place around the egg after brushing the surface of the disc of pasta with a little water to adhere well.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F – Gas Mark 5)
- Whisk the remaining egg white and spread it on your Cavagnetti with a cake brush.
- Place the Cavagnetti on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden. If you see that the surface darken too quickly, cover them with a sheet of parchment paper. Once baked, sprinkle them with white or colored baking candies or dragee making them adhere, if necessary, with a little sugar syrup.
You can also prepare a “tiny” version of Cavagnetti, using in this case a muffin tin, as I made here below:
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[…] finish the meal with Cavagnetti, small baskets of sweet pastry with the egg in the center and with the inevitable Quaresimali, […]