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Romagna Easter Loaf, A Peasant Recipe For Breakfast

Romagna Easter Loaf, A Peasant Recipe For Breakfast

Easter loaf or pagnotta di Pasqua is a simple loveria of Romagna (loveria is a term from the Romagnolo dialect used to refer to good food).

It is a leavened dome-shaped semi-sweet bread, typical of the peasant tradition of Romagna and once eaten on Easter morning.

Romagna Easter Bread

The Easter loaf of Romagna

In Romagna, the traditional colomba (the typical cake eaten at Easter in Italy) looks like a dome-shaped loaf of bread.

It is a semi-sweet leavened bread, my version is really not very sweet, that looks like a soft pan brioche, enriched with raisins (sometimes also with aniseeds).

And although it needs a long leavening time, it has nothing in common with an Italian Easter colomba. It is a rustic bread from the peasant Romagna, which recalls a very ancient tradition: when Catholic rites were superimposed on previous archaic rituals.

Although it is a recipe widespread throughout Romagna, depending on the area and the house the recipe undergoes some small variations, the pagnotta originates in the Cesena area, particularly in the valley of the Savio River. The most famous Easter loaf is today, thanks to a dedicated festival, that of Sarsina, a municipality in the province of Forlì-Cesena and gateway to the upper Savio valley and the Parco delle Foreste Casentinesi.

How tradition wants

The azdora made the dough in the days leading up to Easter. To satisfy the needs of large families, the loaves could weigh up to several kilograms. For this reason, after the long rising time, each family would take their bread to be baked in the big village oven.

The loaf had to be ready for breakfast on Easter morning, to be eaten after returning from the church, and it was traditionally eaten with salami and Easter (hard-boiled) eggs.
A typical reinforced peasant breakfast.

Even in my childhood home, this was the Easter breakfast

Nonna started working the dough as early as Friday.
The next day the loaf was ready to be baked while we cooked the eggs that we would take to be blessed.

First they were boiled; once they were cooked, I would decorate the shell with drawings and decorations; then I would wrap the eggs in a clean towel and put everything in a little basket. Finally, me on my green bicycle and nonna on foot, we went together to the church for the blessing. I was so proud to carry out such an important job!

After we returned from the blessing, everything was put away for the breakfast we would have the next day, after returning from Easter Mass.
Sliced bread, salami and blessed hard-boiled eggs.

Romagna Easter Loaf

One tradition and several recipes

Depending on the cook, the recipe can change.
Some use butter and sugar. This is certainly a more recent version, as in the past, in the Romagna countryside, these two were expensive ingredients and were scarce on the farmer’s table.

In general, a little lard, if any, and a few tablespoons of honey were added to the dough.

Unfortunately, nonna Sara did not leave a written recipe of this loaf, but mum remembers that she did not use sugar, only honey, and that she kneaded the flour with lard.
Finally, that she sometimes added a teaspoon or two of anise seeds.

A common ingredient in many Easter loaf recipes is the presence of grated lemon zest in the dough. Mum says that grandma used to add the scent of grated zest but I honestly don’t remember.

The last time I ate a slice of Easter bread, strictly always with salami for me, I must have been about 10-12 years old. Then, the loaf became rare until it disappeared from our table.

My latest experiments

I baked this recipe for the first time, sharing it on the blog, among the pages of my virtual cook book. But before I made several loaf tests: with fresh and dry brewer’s yeast (both are fine), with a little sugar in addition to the honey (for me this is a no-no. It gets too sweet and this, instead, is a semi-sweet loaf that also works well with savory and sweet food); with olive oil or lard (both work well for me); with or without lemon or anise seeds (follow your taste).

This is the recipe for the Easter loaf I remembered, not very sweet despite the raisins.

And, once again, I feel gratitude for this blog which, like a time machine, brings back dear flavors and memories.

Serve the loaf with boiled eggs, cold meats, cheeses, jams, pinzimonio.

Buona cucina, Monica

Easter with my recipes

I leave you with a few ideas for cooking a special Easter menu. Mix and match the recipes to your taste and create a more formal table, where the courses follow one another according to tradition, or one where everything is ready and served.

Parmigiano biscuits and mortadella mousse: not only are they a pair that works very well together. I find that they are perfect to fill a wait-time, while the cook ends putting the last things away and nobody has sat down at the table yet.

Lasagne! At Easter you can’t miss them: they can be prepared in advance, everyone loves them and they are easy to heat up in the oven and bring to the table. Which do you prefer, green sheet lasagne with Bolognese meat sauce or Goccia d’Oro (béchamel, cooked ham and mushrooms)?

As main course, I leave you with two alternatives. Vegetarian artichoke stew, which is also excellent served at room temperature, and a super classic lemon roast beef. These are two “clever” recipes, both of which can be prepared in advance and don’t necessarily need to be reheated.

Bread and Bolognese friggione. It is a vegetarian and gluten-free recipe which you can eat as a side, one dish, or make some croutons.

And to end, what about a traditional Bolognese cake such as rice or tagliatelle cake? Alternatively, tiramisu crostata, or chocolate strawberry frozen cake (you don’t need an ice cream maker, it’s a very simple recipe) or, finally, pastry cream served in individual glass cups. Something a bit vintage that I love.

Keep in Touch

Italian Easter Loaf

Food Tip

The loaf needs to rise overnight and almost half a day, so organize preparation and baking in time. For example, start on Friday if you want the bread ready for Sunday.

Romagna Easter Loaf Recipe

for a 1/2kg loaf of bread

flour 0 or 00 or spelt flour, 500g
eggs, 2
acacia or mixed-flower honey, 5 tablespoons
sultanas, 2 tablespoons
40 g olive oil (or 1 tablespoon lard)
Milk 150 g + approx. 40 g for dissolving the yeast
fresh brewer’s yeast, 25 g
salt, a generous pinch (about 3g)
if the flour absorbs a lot of the liquid part, water to taste

egg yolk, 1 for brushing the surface

optional: zest of an organic lemon and/or 1 teaspoon of anise seeds left in cold water for an hour


In a bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of flour with the yeast dissolved in 20g of warm milk, then cover with plastic film and leave to rest in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, combine all the ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl and finally add the yeast. Knead for about 10-12 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. Cover the dough and let it rise overnight.

Grease a round baking tin, pour in the dough without kneading it and leave to rest for another two to three hours, covered or in the oven.

Preheat the oven (taking care to move the dough if it is there to rise) to 160 degrees, static function.

In a small cup, mix the egg yolk with a few drops of water and brush the surface of the bread. Make a cross-shaped cut and bake in the oven for about an hour.

The loaf is cooked when the surface is brown, like a pan brioche.

Allow to cool before eating.

Italian bread

Italian Easter Traditions

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