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    Focaccia di Pasqua

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    Focaccia di Pasqua

    This buttery and fluffy bread, traditionally made at Easter (Pasqua in Italian), is the Italian equivalent of our hot cross buns. The dough is enriched with butter and egg, then infused and coloured with saffron, which in the past was said to symbolise wealth and generosity. Due to the amount of sugar, butter and egg it contains, the dough rises really slowly, so it's easier to let it rise in the fridge overnight.

    • Vegetarian
    • Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus 6 hours proving and rising
    • Cooking time: 55 minutes
    • Total time: 80 minutes, plus 6 hours proving and rising 60 minutes 20 minutes


    • 4 tsp active dried yeast (not easy-blend)
    • 1 large pinch saffron threads
    • 150g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp
    • 150ml hand-hot water
    • 600g plain flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 150g unsalted butter, softened
    • 5 large egg yolks
    • 1 orange, finely grated zest
    • 1 lemon, finely grated zest
    • 1 medium egg, beaten
    • 100g blanched whole almonds
    • Icing sugar, for dredging


    1. Put the yeast and saffron into a jug and add 1 tsp of the sugar. Mix well, then whisk in the water to dissolve the yeast. Leave in a warm place for 10 minutes, until frothy, then whisk in 100g of the flour to make a thick batter. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours until doubled in size (or leave overnight in the fridge; bring it back to room temperature before continuing the following day).
    2. Sift the remaining flour and salt into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the sugar, egg yolks and orange and lemon zests and beat till well-mixed. Pour in the yeast mixture and beat until smooth and elastic; about 5 minutes. You can knead it by hand but it will be very sticky and you may need to add more flour. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled; about 2-3 hours. Gradually beat in the butter until shiny and pliable. Shape into a ball. Transfer to a sheet of baking parchment and roll out until 2.5cm thick. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 1 hour. Brush with egg then push in the almonds.
    3. Bake at 180°C, gas mark 4 for 25 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170°C, gas mark 3 and cook for a further 30 minutes. Dredge with icing sugar.

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    Drinks recommendation

    The richness of this cakey bread lends itself especially well to a rich Sauternes from a hot year.


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    3 stars