INT. HOUSE. DAY. Early Sunday morning.
My daughter M. wakes up and reminds me of a promise I made earlier that week.
'Facciamo i biscotti, Mamma?'
(Shall we make cookies, Mummy ?).
I smile. Yawn. I give her a drowsy nod. She immediately gets excited at the idea of picking her favourite cutouts from our ever-growing collection.
'Facciamo le colombe per Pasqua?'
(Shall we make pastry doves for Easter?)
'E anche le farfalle e i fiorellini, però!'
(And butterflies and little flowers, too!)
I give her another nod. I perfectly agree with her.
ROBERTA (VOICE OFF)
Doves are getting quite boring these days...
Here in Italy, they are as common as Easter bunnies
in North America or Northern Europe. You just have to look around in pastry shops and supermarkets, they are everywhere: dove-shaped cookies-sweets-candies-chocolates, and Easter dove cakes, of course (a soft and orangey flavoured cake with an almond topping).
As to our family traditions, we usually prepare a nest with a wicker basket and fill it with straw and chocolate eggs.
This year I fancied a change, though. As we rolled out the dough and cut tiny butterfly-shaped cookies out of it, I imagined them hanging beautifully from an old tree branch. Dancing and floating in the air as a cool spring breeze blows into the house through the open windows. I suggested the idea of making an Easter tree and decorating it with the cookies, but Maddalena was quite reluctant at first. She was determined to eat them all, offering them to a class-mate and her visiting family. At last I managed to convince her (she is quite a stubborn kid sometimes), and I stored some biscuits in the cupboard, almost hiding them...
As for the doves I was so eager to do... I baked a dozen this time, decorated them with an immaculate white lemony glaze and carefully placed them in an origami box filled with straw. I also made some marzipan eggs and placed them in the nest too.
Sweet, cute little eggs.
'Mi piacciono tanto!'
I love them!
'Anche a me.'
So do I.
We exchange an affectionate glance.
Ingredients for the short-pastry:
all purpose flour: 250 gr - 8,8 oz
rice flour: 50 gr - 1,7 oz
granulated sugar: 90 gr - 3 oz
unsalted butter: 175 gr - 6 oz - room temperaturefree-range egg: 1 (50 gr/1,7 oz approximately)
salt: 1 pinch
Ingredients for the icing:
organic lemon juice: 60 ml - 1/4 cup
sifted powdered sugar: 100 gr - 1 cup
lemon extract: 3 drops
red&blue food colorings (optional)
Sift together the two flours in a large bowl. Add granulated sugar and salt and mix carefully.
Make a 'well' or a 'fountain' in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add butter and eggs in the well and mix the batter roughly with a fork, then knead the mixture with your hands until you form a ball.
Divide dough in half. Wrap each one with plastic film and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Roll out the first dough ball (while you keep the other one in the fridge, of course) on a lightly floured surface to 3/4 mm (1/8-inch) thickness. Cut out dough using Easter or Spring cookie cutters of your choice, such as doves, flowers, bunnies, eggs, bells and butterflies. Place cutouts on an ungreased parchment paper. Repeat the same process with the second dough.
Bake for approximately 10/12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden or light brown, rotating the pans from top to bottom once or twice meanwhile. Let them cool down completely on a wire rack.
Prepare the lemony icing: pour the lemon juice and extract in a small bowl, gradually whisk into it the confectionary sugar until you get a smooth, sticky - but pourable - glaze.
Divide it into three different small bowls and tint two of them with one or two drops of food colouring, as desired, leaving one white (for the doves).
Decorate Easter cookies with the lemony glaze, adding assorted sprinkles and candies if you wish so. Enjoy!