Sunday, March 23, 2008

The tradition of the "Cuddura cu l'ova"

Buona Pasqua! history behind the cuddura
Right about now, every child in Italy probably has a room full of chocolate eggs that were giving to them as an Easter gift. Wrapped in a colorful presentation, usually with their favorite cartoon character, and filled with a little surprise. The temptation to join this ritual it overwhelming as we know they are considered expected. But, this year we wanted to come back to what is becoming the lost tradition of the Cuddura.

The Cuddura can be traced back to Ancient Greece, when the Greeks colonized Sicily over 2500 years ago. The Greeks would offer something similar to their Gods calling it a Coulloura. Christianity then spread with time through Sicily and this offering was then adapted into the Easter celebrations, becoming a gift during the festival of Easter. The cuddura has an odd-numbered amount of hard-boiled eggs decorating the confection, each crossed with strips of dough. Forms include a bell tower to ring the bells of Christ Risen, a basket to wish for abundance, a chicken (or dove) for boys, and a doll for girls. For engaged couples, a young woman presents her betrothed with a cuddura in the shape of a heart and in turn, he returns the favor with one in the shape of a little ring.

The memories that awakened when each child opened their wrapped Cuddura were priceless... I heard about stories from long ago, when great-grandmothers made these Cuddure after making the bread for Easter, in their wood ovens. Need I mention that these were the days before colored sprinkles? The Cuddura was a gift for all ages and one I hope to continue in my family.

Elisa enjoying her bambola, little doll...

Mario and his Cuddura...

Cuddure500g flour
150g sugar
100g butter
10g ammoniaca (2 teaspoons baking powder)
150ml of milk at room temperature
skin of one orange
2 eggs
8 hard boiled egg

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, butter, milk, orange, and fresh eggs.
Mix well and then add the ammoniaca. Fold into a dough, then on a lightly floured surface, knead gently for a few minutes until pliable. Roll dough till about 1cm thick, cut out forms, and place on a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment. Place a hard boiled egg on each form, cross with two strips of dough, and brush with beaten egg. Finally, decorate with sprinkles and bake in the oven at 200° per 20-25 minutes.


rowena said...

Absolutely wonderful! I made only a few and here you've got the makings to start your own little bakery. I love that you made a lot of different shapes for each of the different meanings. The basket...too cute.

Next year hopefully at Easter...I'll want to purchase cuddura from a sicilian, maybe yours? ;-)

Jilli said...

Thank you so much! It was great to see the faces of all those who remembered this great tradition... I'll make sure to make a few more next year! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jilli,
I am fairly new to your blog, but I love it, because I am half Sicilian and half Calabrese. My Sicilian grandmother made these cuddura every year and I have been making them for the past 30 years. It is a tradition that I love and so does my family. Yours look beautiful!! Thanks for sharing.

Jilli said...

Thanks Sandy,
I'm happy to hear that there are others out there who also keep the tradition! Great to hear from you...

bleeding espresso said...

Gorgeous! Here they're called cuzzupe, and for some reason in my village they don't put eggs in them and they're more cakey than bready...but still delicious :)

I had photos up of them last year, both with sprinkles and without...and actually I took some of these to Sicily with me to pass around and all the recipients appreciated them :)

Bob and Rosemary said...

I've really been enjoying reading your blog and catching up on your life in bella sicilia. My mouth is watering from all the beautiful things you have made with Sicily's freshest ingredients! It really makes me miss being there -- I'm only sorry we did not get to meet then! I will have to try some of the recipes you so generously posted. Thanks!

Jilli said...

Bleeding espresso, I imagine your recipients in Sicily appreciated them!! YUM!! What a great idea...

Bob e Rosemary, thank you for your kind words. Keep me posted on your next trip to Sicily!

Harrow said...

How wonderful! I am Sicilian and live in UK, the Cudduras I see here are just the same as my mother does, well... did, when we were little: she used to make them and give one to anybody came to visit or invited for Easter lunch. It was tradition to eat them on monday picnic... Thanks Jill. Not sure if this blog is still active but I say Buona Pasqua anyway. Massimo