Ticino has the Colomba di Pasqua, and many of the Swiss-German and Swiss-French cantons have a braided Zopf/Tresse on the table at Easter time, but what about the canton of Neuchâtel? It also has a special bread for this holiday season, known as Pain de Pâques (Easter bread). I have read about this bread for several years now and even tried making it at home. Today, however, I finally bought one of these loaves—which can only be found during the Easter season. It came from a well-known Neuchâtel bakery, Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Mäder.
What is Pain de Pâques? In Neuchâtel, the dough for making this Easter bread is nearly identical, if not exactly the same, as the dough for a loaf of Zopf/Tresse. Instead of braiding the dough, however, it takes a rounded form, resembling an oval—or more appropriate to the season, an egg. After lightly coating the loaf in egg yolk to give it a golden brown color, a slash mark is made across the top. The result? A loaf with a rich, butter flavor and a slightly tighter crumb than a typical Zopf/Tresse.
In the mid-1960s, bakers in Neuchâtel first started making Pain de Pâques for a very practical reason—they take less time to shape than a braided Zopf/Tresse. Over the years, though, these loaves have become very popular at Easter. They are not typically made at home, and instead purchased from a local boulangerie. A slice of Pain de Pâques is delicious with butter and jam.
Happy Easter / Frohe Ostern / Joyeuses Pâques / Buona Pasqua