Growing up, Easter was always a time for getting together with the extended family and has my birthday at times coincided with Easter celebrations including being born on Holy Thursday means I've always had a connection to the season.
Along with the dark chocolate Italian Easter Eggs that you'd have to portion out due to their intensity, there were also the cakes like Colomba di Pasqua (Easter Dove Cake) to look forward to and their simpler cousins the Pandolce. The Australian influences would be found in the presence of Hot Cross Buns.
In the spirit of equality, as I have already made Hot Cross Buns I thought I'd make a Pandolce - this is based on one found in Ursula Ferrigno's La Dolce Vita.
I've made some minor changes to the recipe but you'll see that it's not quite one of those fluffy pandolce - it's more compact like a panforte but the combinations of flavours is a winner.
120 grams dried Apricots
1 orange, zested
50 grams butter
10 grams fresh yeast
200 grams strong Plain flour
75 grams caster sugar
50 grams slivered almonds
50 grams white chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Place the yeast into a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of tepid water and a pinch of sugar - stir to dissolve and let it sit for 10 minutes until it bubbles and is active.
Place the apricots and orange zest in a food processor and process until roughly chopped but not mushy.
Put this mixture into a pan along with the butter and gently heat, stirring constantly until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
Sift the flour into a bowl, then add the sugar - stir to combine before adding the yeast mixture, slivered almonds and white chocolate. Continue stirring then add the eggs and buttered apricot mix. Ensure it's well combined before placing it in a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin.
Smooth the surface before placing it in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven to cook for about 1½ hours.
Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack before serving.