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Easter Around the World

Easter is coming up in about two weeks, and for those who observe Lent, this is one of the most important times in the year. The chances are that you already have your traditional Easter recipes ready, but have you thought about trying out new things this year?

Easter is a holiday that is celebrated in many parts of the world, and each culture has its traditional Easter fare. Easter eggs are a given, but there is so much more to this holiday than eggs. Why not take a look at some traditional Easter food from different countries? You just might discover a gem or two.

British Easter Food

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross BunIn the UK, hot cross buns are among the most popular food items consumed during Lent. Traditionally served on Good Friday, a hot cross bun is actually a rich spiced tea cake with a cross mark on top. The bun is made using leavened yeast with raisins or currants thrown into the mix. As for the cross, it can be made in various ways: pastry, flour and water, icing, rice paper, and even merely cutting the dough in a cross shape. Here’s a recipe for tradition Hot Cross Buns. If you want a little variety, try Easter Buttermilk Hot Cross Buns or Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns (after all, everything is better with chocolate in it!).

Simnel Cake

Simnel CakeIf hot cross buns are not your thing, then you might want to try Simnel Cake. This cake is rather similar to the traditional fruit cake that is served during the Christmas season. This cake is light and covered in marzipan. Before it is served, the cake is toasted. As you can see in the photo, 11 balls of marzipan are place around the edge of the cake top. These balls stand for the 11 disciples. You might be thinking that one disciple is missing – you are right. Judas has been “removed” in this recipe. Here’s a recipe for Simnel Cake. Again, if you can’t have enough chocolate, try the Chocolate Simnel Cake.

Roast Lamb

Easter Leg of LambRoast lamb is a traditional dish served for Easter dinner – not only in the UK, but in other parts of the world. The origins of this tradition actually goes back before Easter was celebrated – to the Jewish Passover. When some Hebrews converted to Christianity, this tradition was continued during Easter. Lamb has a distinct flavor that goes very well with certain spices. It makes for a rich roast that is sure to satisfy your family. Try this recipe for Easter Leg of Lamb with Roasted Vegetables. Alternatively, try the Easter Greek Lamb.

American Easter Food

Ham

Roasted Easter HamIn the US, ham is the most served dish during Easter. This tradition stems from the fact that way back when refrigerators hadn’t been invented, hogs were slaughtered in the fall. The meat that was not eaten during winter was then cured so as to preserve it. By the time the curing process was done, it was time for Easter celebrations. Thus the tradition of Easter ham began. If you feel like some ham this Easter, here is a simple recipe for Roasted Easter Ham. If you’re a glaze kind of person, then there’s a Glazed Easter Ham recipe just for you. Now if you drink cola like water, and you can’t get enough of it, try some Cola Easter Ham. For some fruity flavor, this Tangerine-Glazed Easter Ham with Baby Carrots will tickle your taste buds.

Central/Eastern European Easter Food

Paska

PaskaPaska is a kind of bread that is commonly eaten during Easter in Eastern European countries such as Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia. This bread is very simple and is made with eggs, flour, and sugar. As with many traditional dishes, though, the recipe for paska has evolved and many modern versions include a host of other ingredients. More so, Eastern Europeans who have settled in other parts of the world have introduced paska to their new homes. Here’s how to make basic Paska Bread. Hot bread is always good with cheese and paska is not an exception. Here’s a recipe for Cheese Paska.

Kulich

Russian KulichIn Russia, the bread that is served during Easter is called kulich. This bread originates from the Orthodox Christian faith. As such, Orthodox Christians in other places such as Belarus, Bulgaria, and Serbia also traditionally serve kulich for Easter. Kulich is rather unique as it is baked using tall cylindrical tins. This is supposed to represent the church tower. Also, the bread is cooled down and drizzled with white icing and colorful flowers, with the sign XB to top it off. This sign means “Christ is Risen”, the essence of Easter. For this year’s Easter bread, why not make some Russian Kulich? Here’s an alternative recipe for Russian Easter Bread (Kulich).

Babka

Chocolate BabkaAlso known as bobka or baba, babka is a sweet cake with yeast. Babka is a traditional part of Easter for Central and Eastern Christian Europeans. As with many other Easter breads and cakes, babka comes in different varietions. Perhaps the one that caught my attention the most is the Chocolate Babka. (Yes, I cannot hide my love for chocolate. I am sure that you understand!) If cheese is what makes you happy, then check out this Cheese Babka recipe. Are you a health buff? Or maybe you just like fruits. Here’s another variation: Apple Babka. Whatever tickles your fancy, there should be a babka to suit you!

Other Traditional Easter Food

Tsoureki

TsourekiTsoureki is Easter bread served in Greece, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. This sweet bread is similar to the many other breads described above and is often braided. Tsoureki is served not only during Easter in Greece, but also for Christmas and New Year’s. More so, this bread uses milk as a base, in lieu of water. A characteristic quality of tsoureki is that it should be slightly underbaked as opposed to overbaked. Think soft, moist, and fluffy bread. At the same time, tsoureki should have a stringy and chewy quality. Mouthwatering? Indeed! Here is a recipe for traditional Greek Easter Bread/Tsoureki.

Pretzels

Glorious Soft PretzelsBefore I started working on this entry, I honestly did not know that pretzels have strong links to Christianity! All I knew was that pretzels are good! Apparently, pretzels were invented by monks and their unique shape is supposed to resemble the folded arms of a child as he says his prayers. Historical accounts state that the monks invented pretzels as a reward for when children were good and said their prayers. Whether you consider pretzels as Easter food or not, they are always a welcome treat for adults and children alike. Doesn’t this recipe name just tempt you? Glorious Soft Pretzels. Mmmm… How about some Chocolate-Coated Pretzels that take a few minutes to make? Here’s the clincher: Sweet & Salty Pretzel Brownies!

Correct me if I am wrong, but you probably have an arsenal of traditional Easter recipes – aside from eggs, of course. If you do, why not share them with the rest of us? We could all use new dishes when Easter comes around!

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