Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Veronica Shine
The Easter cake known “Mona de Pascua” contains hard-boiled eggs in the center. The sweet pastry is representative of Catalonia and the Valencia areas, and derives from the Arabic word munna, meaning gift.
This has been a tradition in which godparents gifted their godchildren with one. Today, grandparents jumped to the offering to their grandchildren and uncles and aunts present the cake onto their nieces and nephews every year up until they have reached their first holy communion. Some families have placed one egg for each age of the child.
The purpose of having an egg embedded in the cake is that it symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. The Mona de Pascua is given out on Easter Sunday but not usually eaten until Easter Monday. Many people on the coastal Mediterranean towns pack up a feast, including the Mona de Pascua, and eat al fresco at family picnics.
Today the custom of this cake still is gifted during Semana Santa (Holy Week) but instead has gotten very elaborate and is sometimes topped with melted chocolate or assorted frostings.
The plain version is slowly disappearing in Barcelona and Valencia cake and has become extremely elaborated and can compete as the Easter baskets found in the states. The traditional colored egg is still placed in its center. However, many bakeries sell the cake adorned in jellied candies or chocolate bunnies, while others decorate them with non-edible trimmings, such as ornate feathers and ribbons.
The basic recipe is great to make anytime if eliminating the Easter trimmings. If the sweet is shaped as a round cake, the hard-boiled egg is placed in the center, if it doughnut-shaped, various eggs are placed around the circle.
Serve it with coffee when that urge of sweet hits upon you.
Serves 6 to 8
4 whole eggs
2 egg whites beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup crushed almonds
1 tbsp yeast
1/4 cup butter
For the filling:
1 1/4 cups Peach Jam
Colorful candied sprinkles
1) Beat the eggs and 1/ 2 cup sugar together in a bowl and whisk.
2) Mix the flour and yeast together in a separate bowl.
3) Gradually add the mixture of flour and yeast through a sieve (to avoid creating any lumps) to the egg and sugar mixture.
4) Stir constantly while adding the crushed almonds.
5) Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form peaks.
6) Once they are half whisked, add ¼ cup of sugar, and blend in with the flour and egg mixture.
7) Turn the final mix out into a greased and flour-sprinkled mould.
8) Place in the oven at 350ºF for about 40-45 minutes.
9) Remove the cake, allow to cool, cutting in half and spreading in with the jam filling. Sprinkle on powdered sugar.
10) As the cake is cooling but still soft, add your own final touch with some decorated colored or chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies, marshmallow chicks, or slivers of almonds.