It’s a shame Britain doesn’t have a tradition of Easter foods. Well, we consume hot cross buns and chocolate eggs in massive quantities this time of the year – but they are not so much a ‘tradition’ as brainchild of supermarket marketing departments. At least, that’s what I think.
So for inspiration on Easter cooking, look to Italy, Greece and other countries with a strong Catholic or Christian tradition, and you will find plenty of eggs dishes and baked sweet treats.
These Greek pastry ‘bracelets’ – which are like a cross between bagels and biscuits – are a favourite with children. The dough can be shaped into large or small bracelets, rings, rolls, cigars, twists, plaits – or anything else you fancy, really.
This is a traditional recipe – it’s known as Kulurakia in Greece – so I make no apologies for using white flour and white sugar. You can substitute brown flour and raw cane sugar if you wish – I’m sure it would be fine, but it won’t have that old-fashioned rustic Greek taste.
Get children involved in making these bracelets – if you don’t have any, do what I do and borrow a gaggle of nephews and nieces. It’ll be a lot of fun, especially if you make an event of it and have an egg painting party at the same time as the bracelets are being baked. Happy Easter! Serves 4 to 6.
4 oz/ 100g clarified or unsalted butter, softened
4 oz/ 100g white sugar
½ teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 medium organic free-range eggs
12 oz/ 300g white flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
For the glaze:
1 medium organic free-range egg
1 tablespoon milk
For the topping:
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1. Beat the butter with a fork until it is creamy. Add sugar and vanilla extract, and beat well.
2. Crack the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture, and once again beat thoroughly.
3. Sift in the flour with the baking powder and cinnamon, and combine everything to make soft dough. Allow the dough to stand for approximately half an hour.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375F/ 190C/ gas mark 5.
5. Then break off walnut-sized pieces of the dough, and shape each into a roll about 4 inches long.
6. Pinch the ends together to form a bracelet shape and flatten slightly. Place the bracelets on greased baking sheets, making sure you leave enough space between each to give them room to rise.
7. Make the glaze by beating together the egg with the milk. Using a pastry brush, paint each bracelet with the glaze.
8. Carefully sprinkle the top of the bracelets with sesame seeds.
9. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.
10. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with coffee. Store any remaining bracelets in an airtight container.