Friday, March 27, 2015

“Cuzzupa” or “Cruzzupe” Italian Easter Cakes For Palm Sunday

This post is a revise from April 10, 2014. Everyone always asks me about my Easter Cake recipe so I thought I would revise the whole blog and recipe. Hope that you enjoy! 

Spring has finally arrived, even though the weather is still cool. But that is not going to stop the coloring of eggs, bunny rabbits, Easter bonnets, parades, and egg hunts as Easter is right around the corner. It’s also time to start thinking about baking Easter cakes and sweet desserts for your Easter dinner. Christians in over 80 nations will be celebrating Palm Sunday this weekend, and Easter Sunday next weekend. “Happy Easter” is translated in Italian as “Bouna La Pasqua,” and “Happy Palm Sunday” is “Felice Domenica delle Palme.”

On Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday as it is often called, Christians celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. The Bible reveals that when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him by waving palm branches and covering his path with palms. In Italy, this Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, mass will be celebrated by Pope Francis I. On Palm Sunday when I was growing up, we would go to church, and receive the Palms. When we returned home I can recall creating palm crosses and beautiful braided wreaths.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week and it is the holiest of all the weeks in the Roman Catholic faith. We would go to church on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and most of all we went on Good Friday. That was the last day of eating a meatless meal. On this day, Jesus died on the cross at 3:00 pm. Some times I would go with my family to the Easter Vigil. This took place on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. I remember that it was a beautiful, impressive, but solemn mass.

Also want to wish all of my Jewish friends out there a “Happy Passover” as well. Passover begins at sundown on Friday April 3rd and ends the evening of April 11th. Passover is a beautiful and meaningful holiday. It allows the Jewish community to relive its past, celebrate the present, hope for its future by lovely rituals, and by being together with family and friends which is bound by tradition.

Great-Grandmother Sofia
During Holy week, between going to church, we would do all of our Easter baking. Easter cakes and many desserts. I have a wonderful recipe for a very traditional Italian Easter cake called “Cuzzupa” or “Cruzzupe.” This is a time-honored recipe from my great-grandmother Sofia and comes from Calabria, Italy. It is made with Anise (licorice flavor) and made into a braided wreath or nest with hard boiled colored eggs placed into the dough, and then colored sprinkles are added to top off the cakes. The consistency is a cake type of dough not bread. 

This recipe won first place two years ago in a contest for Easter Cakes on Cooking With Nonna.” Rossella Rago who is the owner of “CWN” selected my recipe and what I won was a huge, beautiful basket filled with all delicious items from Academia Barilla. Thank you Rossella for the honor of posting my families favorite Easter Cakes.

I remember a time when I was about 9 or 10 years old…………….We had a large kitchen. My family and I would prepare for baking day with a large wooden board that we used to roll out our dough and create our special cakes and cookies for holidays through out the year. This antique pastry board was passed down through the years from my great grandmother Sofia’s, which I have inherited to create my own delectable sweet treats. As I roll out my dough, I think back to a simpler time. The smells in the kitchen would always give me that warm and toasty feeling. It was a feeling of love, family and food. Food was and still is a big part of my family. 


6 cups of flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
Anise Seeds (between 1/3 and 1/2 oz of crushed & cleaned anise)
4 tablespoons Crisco (room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
6 eggs (save 1 egg white to brush on cakes before baking)
3/4 cup of milk
Confetti candy sprinkles

Color hard boiled eggs (amount is up to you) a few days ahead of time. Preheat oven to 350F°--375F° depending on your oven. Grease flat cookie sheets or pans. Crush Anise seeds and put into dish (before, use a cotton handkerchief to gather anise and twist hanky under it. Then rub hard on the ball of Anise. After rubbing it rolled up in between both hands (make fists.) Open carefully and sort out Anise from brown husks and sometimes small stones.)

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Then mix in Anise. Mix in Crisco with sugar and after make a well shape. (Remember, this is the traditional Old Italian way, but you can also use a bowl to mix all ingredients.) Put in eggs (save/1 egg white) and milk. 

Gradually take flour from sides of the well and mix with eggs and milk. Don’t break the wall as all liquid will run out. When all mixed you knead dough till all mixed good and a smooth texture. Might have to put a little flour on board or counter, so it will not stick. Not too much flour or the cakes will be too dry. Then cut a chunk and leave the rest on the side of board or counter.

Roll out dough in a long and thin strip. Make the strip the thickness of a wooden spoon handle, not any thinner as the dough will break. If you twist 2 strips together to make a braid make each a little thinner than your finger. They will swell as they bake. Put your colored eggs in the braid, nest or dolls, whatever you decide to create. Be careful as you put them on a baking sheet so they don’t break or crack. Roll small pieces of dough and then flatten out with the palm of your hand to cover around the side of the egg on dolls or nests. This helps keep the eggs more secure. If you make dolls, put a slit on feet and hands.

Now beat saved egg white and with a pastry brush, brush egg white on all parts of your cakes. (Careful not to get egg white on cookie sheet as it will burn and also try to keep egg white off of colored eggs as they will be spotty after they bake.)  After the egg whites are on brushed on the cakes dip a finger in egg white mixture and then dot with candy confetti sprinkles on the dolls, crosses or what ever you made. 

Then bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. They should be lightly browned. Let them sit about 10 minutes to cool off before taking them off the cookie sheet/pans, they may crack or break so be careful removing them from the pans. You can store in an air tight cookie tin for about a week, if they don’t get eaten before that.

Till Next Time……………………………….........................

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Oh I cannot wait for Easter! The children gets really excited when they can open their Easter eggs. The Italian ones always have a small toy inside as a surprise.
    I love baking for Easter too and to be honest I prefer it to Christmas as it is less stressful and therefore more enjoyable.
    I really love your recipe with eggs especially the fact that you have coloured the eggs too.. so pretty!
    Enjoy your weekend xx

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thank you for your visit and comment. I also love Easter. The eggs, the plants, the foods, etc. Besides the religious reasons as you said it just seems less confusing and more enjoyable. When the children (nieces, my son & nephews) were young would love to hide the eggs for an Easter Egg hunt. Your children I am sure love those eggs with the surprise inside. Glad that you love my recipe, yes, you have to color the eggs, it is a tradition.Hope that you have a blessed Palm Sunday...
      Dottie :)

  2. Good evening Dottie,
    I remember reading our post last year , so glad you reposted it , wanted the kids to make the Easter cakes with the eggs . I will be such fun for hem and different .

    Your post is full of information as usual , you remind us of so many things we have forgotten or some we didn't know .
    I love holidays and Easter is one of my favorite . Have a great week ahead preparing food for Palm Sunday and Easter . What memories we all will make .
    Thanks for sharing ...Nee :)

    1. Good evening Nee,
      Thank you for your comment dear friend. Yes, I do not like to repost but I did change the some of the photo's and the words. I have been feeling really tired lately and couldn't think about writing something new, besides so many people always ask me about this recipe. So it was a good way to repost this one. Yes, Nee this one was a good one filled with lots of info. Being very religious, I think that Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday is the most religious time of the year. Maybe the weather will be nice and warm on Easter Sunday. Right now we are looking for about one inch or two of Snow, (yes snow) on Saturday. Thanks for your stopping over...Enjoy and have a blessed Palm Sunday...with your family. And yes make more memories...
      Dottie :)

  3. I remember all the Easter preparations my mother made, she cooked up a storm and decorated and so forth. It's a great time of year with all the Easter goodies to make and for activities at church. Your cakes are adorable and I can imagine how delicious. Thanks for a great informative post, and I think Great Grandmother Sofia is quite a lady, very refined, in her Easter bonnet! Happy Palm Sunday to you and your family!

    1. Hi Pam, Thanks for your comment and your visit. So glad that I have brought you to think about your mother and memories about the past. Yes, this is a wonderful time of the year, I just wish that the weather would cooperate. Yes, my great-grandmother I never knew, she died when I was very little..But she is such an influence in my life now. She is my muse and I know that she is watching over me as I bake these goodies. Hope that you had a blessed Palm Sunday and a glorious Easter Sunday with your family too...Enjoy!
      Dottie :)

  4. Dear Dottie, My mom would set aside a day for baking too. We too had the big wooden board that came out for baking. I truly don't know what happened to the board and it saddens me. So much is gone. Baking was such a big part of the festivities. Those were wonderful days and the memories are so full of love.
    The Cuzzupa are delicious.
    Blessings dear friend. Catherine xoxox

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Thank you for visiting and your comment. I am so glad that you liked this post and sounds like you had many wonderful memories as well. You are correct, baking is so traditional at this time and anytime you need to bake for a holiday. That is a shame that you can't find your board, but you can always have the memories. You should get another one at a kitchen store and start a new tradition for your children.Yes, these goodies are very tasty and they can be addicting. Hope that you had a nice Palm Sunday....Next week is Easter already, where did the time go! Have a blessed week ahead.
      Dottie :)

  5. Such a wonderful post, Dottie :)

    If I can find the time, I hope to make Easter bread this year. I've never made it myself. Looks wonderful, Dottie.


    1. HI Tammy,
      Thanks for visiting and your comment. So glad that you enjoyed this post. Yes, these Easter cakes with the Anise are awesome. I make the cake sometimes throughout the year, just leave out the Easter Eggs. You have to try them, yours will be fabulous, I am sure. Hope that you have a blessed week..
      Dottie :)