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Apulian Cooking
…one of the Easter delicacies
It has different names in different parts of Puglia. Cuddhura or puddhica in Salento by Dario Ersetti
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Scarcella. Photo Archivio Fotogramma

It’s not even necessary to provide the recipe for this sweet, since for once the form is more important than the substance. Its basic feature is that it must contain one or more hard-boiled eggs (always an odd number) and that it must be in the shape of a braid or an animal to amuse the kids. That is for rich kids, while poor children used to receive, when possible, the egg with just a thin covering of pastry.

An Easter dish found all over Italy, in Puglia it goes under various names, generally scarcella in the Taranto, Bari, BAT and Foggia areas and cuddhura or puddhica around Lecce and Brindisi. It is officially listed amongst the typical traditional products of the Puglia Region with its different names.

At Easter-time Santa Cesarea Terme (Lecce) holds the Cuddhura Fair, and Statte (Taranto) the Scarcella Fair. At Molfetta, in the Madonna of Martyrs Basilica, in the eight days following Easter Sunday, the feast of indulgence is celebrated with the distribution of scarcelle to the faithful. Some say the name derives from the fact of being “scarcerati” or released from the prison of sin thanks to this indulgence.

The name cuddhura is most probably of Sicilian origin and of Greek derivation and originally referred to a ring-shaped loaf to be carried on the wayfarer’s staff. The Sicilian cuddhura evolved from the bread baked on Maundy Thursday to recall the Last Supper. The basic dough, quite elaborate like all Sicilian cooking, created a very soft bread which was then sweetened and decorated.




   For 4 scarcelle:


- 800 g of ‘00’ flour

- 200 g of sugar

- 200 g of extra virgin olive oil (or butter or lard)

- 4 whole eggs

- salt

- 1 sachet of rising agent for cakes

- zest of 1 lemon

- 1 sachet of colored sprinkles

- 2 egg-yolks for brushing

- 4 hard-boiled eggs


Combine the ingredients, leave to rest for about ten minutes, then roll out the dough and shape it into Easter figures or shapes for children. Place a boiled egg on the shape using two strips of dough to hold it firm. Brush with beaten egg yolk, top with colored sprinkles and bake at 180° for about 45 minutes.

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