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  • Lucia Borzillo

Easter Baking



The feeling hits every year like clockwork: the holidays roll around and suddenly my oven is begging for a marathon baking session. But it's just Chris and me, and let's be honest, a whole house full of Easter treats wouldn't be the most waistline-friendly outcome.


So, how do you satisfy your sweet tooth cravings without winding up with enough baked goods to feed a small army? Enter the magic of halved recipes!


This year, I tackled some Easter favorites by simply cutting the recipes in half. My trusty mini pie pan came in super handy for a half-batch rice pie, and the Easter bread turned out perfectly adorable (and portion-controlled) in a smaller loaf pan.


Of course, there were exceptions. Let's be real, who can resist a whole batch of fresh-baked cookies?


Here's the takeaway: don't let a small household hold you back from baking fun! By using halved recipes and mini baking pans, you can still whip up delicious treats without going overboard.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a plate of warm cookies...and maybe just a slice of that Easter bread.


Happy baking!


THESE THREE RECIPES ARE THE FULL RECIPE.

I REPEAT, THESE ARE NOT HALF THE RECIPES.


Slice and Bake Lemon Gems.


Ingredients-

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup colored sugar or nonpareils

Icing: (I did not add the icing)

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice


Method-

In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy.


Beat in lemon zest. In another bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch; gradually beat into creamed mixture.


Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour or until easy to handle.


Shape into a 7-in.-long roll roll in colored sugar.


Wrap in plastic; refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until firm.


Preheat oven to 375°.


Unwrap and cut dough crosswise into 1/4-in. slices.


Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.


Bake for 9-11 minutes or until set and edges are light brown.


Cool on pans for 1 minute.


Remove to wire racks to cool completely.


In a small bowl, mix icing ingredients; spread over cookies. Let stand until set.



Italian Pigna di Pasqua

Ingredients-

1 cup (235 ml) warm milk

6 eggs, beaten

6 oz (177 ml) olive oil (or avocado, or nut oil)

3 Tbsp anisette or Sambuca (or other liqueur)

grated rind of one large lemon

1 1/4 c 250 g sugar

6 to 7 cups (720 g to 840 g) all-purpose flour

⅛ tsp salt

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast


Icing & Decoration-

4 cups (400 g) confectioner's/powdered sugar

about 4 ½ Tbsp lemon juice and/or water

edible sprinkles


Method-

Place the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until it dissolves and is activated.


In the stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 3 or 4 minutes.


Change to the dough hook.

Add the milk and yeast, oil and liqueur and lemon rind, and mix on low, just to combine the liquid ingredients.


Begin adding the flour a little at a time until a soft, slightly sticky consistency is reached.

The texture will change after kneading for some time.


Knead for at least 10 minutes, then shape into a ball, and cover the dough.


Allow the dough to double in size. When ready empty onto a countertop dusted in flour.Knead gently, then divide into three parts.


If you  are using the same size tins, divide evenly, if not, adjust accordingly.


For a regular cake, shape each piece into a round ball and place into a buttered and floured tin (you can add parchment paper to the bottoms for easy removal.


For a bundt cake, you will still start with a round ball. (If you don't have a bundt tin, you can use a glass or jar filled with rice, and buttered, or covered on the outside).


When you have the round, use your fingers to make a hole in the center.


Stretch the middle hole, and place into the tin and repeat with the other two pieces of dough. Cover and allow to rise for 3 to 5 hours, until well-risen.


Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).


Bake the Easter cakes for approximately 25 minutes or until the cake is ready.


They should be golden brown and extremely light (in weight).

Allow to cool in the pan for about 45 minutes, then remove sides, bottom, paper and the glass jar (twist and turn to remove gently).


While the cakes are cooling, make the icing.


Stir the lemon juice and water into the powdered sugar until it is smooth and the consistency of thick honey.


Keep covered until ready to use.


Generously spread the icing over the tops of the cool Easter cakes.


Do one cake at a time because you have to add the sprinkles quickly, before the icing starts to set.


Once you're happy with the icing (help it to drip down where you want), then add the sprinkles.


Allow to set before touching the cakes, then serve or put in an airtight tin.



Traditional Italian Easter Rice Pie


Makes (one) 10.5-inch pie

Ingredients-

Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ stick unsalted butter (chilled)

1 extra large egg

1-2 tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed

Filling:

1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice

4 cups water or whole milk

7 large eggs

1 cup sugar

The zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 pound ricotta cheese (drained)


Method-

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl; add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles.


At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form.


Using your hands and working the dough as little as you can, transfer it to a lightly floured surface.


Knead until the dough holds together.


Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill while preparing the filling. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.)


To make the filling, place the rice and water in medium heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil.


Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is sticky.


The rice should still be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven.


Remove from heat and set aside.


Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and using a hand-mixer, beat until well combined.


Add lemon extract and vanilla extract, and beat on low for about 10 seconds.


Add the drained ricotta and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined.


Add cooked rice and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of rice.


Place in the refrigerator.


Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.


Coat the 10.5-inch pie plate with cooking spray.


Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 11- inch circle.


Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides.


No fluted crust in necessary since, like a tart, the crust is flush with the filling.


At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.


Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking.


Note: If you have some extra filling left over, then you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions.


Bake for 1 hour or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is “set,” meaning it should not be jiggly when you gently move the pie plate from side-to-side.


Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Note: Though 1/2 cup arborio rice to 4 cups water or milk usually works perfectly, depending on the brand of rice, some absorb more, some less. If you find the rice is completely cooked after the 20 minutes and there is still some water left, you can simply drain it.




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