Easter arrives early this year, and I’m still working to plan my brunch menu for Sunday. As I consider my options, I’ve been thinking about some of the traditional Swiss foods for Easter. In no particular order, here they are, as well as some recipes if you want to recreate them at home.
1. Chocolate Bunnies
When I first moved to Switzerland three years ago, I was surprised by the invasion of huge chocolate bunnies during the weeks leading up to Easter. In all shapes and sizes, and with various types of decoration, you can find these bunnies in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, with nuts or without and more. Sometimes the bunnies look almost half the size of the children who will be eating them on Easter morning!
2. Naturally-Dyed Hard-Boiled Eggs
This time of year, Swiss supermarkets like Coop and Migros sell bags of brown onion skins. You can use these at home to dye hard-boiled Easter eggs (learn how to do this at apartment therapy). I haven’t tried it yet, but maybe this year. Otherwise, I can just buy the pre-made ones at the supermarket.
According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the first tarts in Switzerland resembling today’s Osterfladen (German) or Gâteau de Pâques (French) may have started as early as the 16th century, and several sources pinpoint Basel as the birthplace. These tarts generally contain either rice or semolina. My local bakery uses semolina and a thin layer of apricot jam. One of the bakers I spoke with last year said he preferred using semolina over rice because it makes a lighter cake.
4. Colomba Pasquale
Colomba Pasquale, known as Colombe de Pâques in French, is a yeasted cake with a distinctive shape that resembles a dove with outstretched wings. The top of the cake usually has a generous coating of powdered or coarse-grained sugar and almonds. Traditionally, the dough is studded with candied orange peel, but you can find myriad flavors.
While Colomba Pasquale originated in Italy, it’s popular throughout Switzerland, and is especially well-known in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, since at least the 1950s. Apparently, the Swiss typically eat this after lunch on Easter day, accompanied by chocolate eggs and sparking wine, as reported by Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse.
- Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove Bread), from King Arthur Flour
Braided loaves of Zopf (German)/Tresse (French) seem to be an essential component of an Easter breakfast or brunch. There’s evidence the Swiss have been making loaves of Zopf since the mid-15th century. Zopf will be on our table for Easter again this year, and I like to pair it with a bittersweet orange marmalade.
This time of year, it’s also common to see Zopf dough made into little bunnies for children. Known as Zopfhasen in German, these are also a fun baking project for little hands. They have raisin eyes and are sometimes sprinkled with sugar.
What are YOUR favorite Swiss Easter foods? Please leave a comment below or send me an email. I’m always looking for new recipes!