Flour, eggs, butter, sugar, Italian meats, cheese, and ricotta. What do these things have in common? They are all part of our family Easter tradition—Easter Pizza. Every Italian family has a variation of this traditional recipe, and everyone believes theirs to be the best.
This is just one of the recipes that I have made with my Grandma. As a child, every Saturday before Easter, Grandma made Easter Pizza for family and friends. She started early in the morning and had the dough ready before lunch. Of course we wanted to help, and she always let us. When we were very young, she gave us a piece of dough to work with, and she always used it when she baked our pizza. As we got older, we helped cut the meats, and fill the pies.
Imagine a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet never written down. I sat in Grandma’s kitchen, and watched her fill the bowl with flour, sugar, adding a pinch of salt, beating in the eggs—never looking at a recipe. Everything was done from memory, and it always tasted the same, fantastic.
Now, I wanted to continue our Easter Pizza tradition, and there was no recipe to follow. Sure, I’d seen it done, and helped make it several times, but I certainly didn’t know the recipe by heart. A quick phone call to Grandma should fix that. Wrong. She had to help me make my first Easter Pizza. Living only a few blocks away, she walked over and helped me out.
I already knew what meats and cheeses I needed, and she did give some guidance on quantity, but for everything else, she was hands on.
The big day had arrived and Grandma was here in her apron, ready to work. I had everything that I needed out on the table, along with measuring cups and spoons. I was ready for my first Easter Pizza baking adventure.
Grandma pushed me aside and started. Instead of me doing the work, she told me to watch and take notes. Was I surprised? No, this was common for her. But as she went along, I wrote everything down, stopping her to get the measurements just right. Today, I am like her, I just know.
We made the dough and while it rose, we cut the meats and cheeses, and told stories. Another memory that will always be with me. We are very blessed. Grandma is 97 and still at it. She doesn’t make the pizzas anymore, but she still cooks and still can teach me a thing or two.
Time to roll the dough. After showing me how to do the first three pizzas, I got to try it on my own. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very good, but I got better. We made ten pizzas total, and by number ten, I was close, slower than Grandma, but I did it. The recipe has enough dough to make a couple of loaves of Easter Bread.
We stuffed all those savory meats and cheeses into a chewy pizza dough crust, then put the pizzas into the oven to bake. The aroma of yeast and spices filled the house. Thirty-five minutes later, we pulled the soft, delicious pizza, out of the oven.
The smell of fresh baked bread wafted from the kitchen out to the porch. The house smelled great, and to me, it smelled like Easter. My mouth was watering just waiting for that first taste.
Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter)