We want to present you one of the most typical sweets of our Sicilian tradition: Sweet Easter Lamb.
Until now we had appreciated it only for its goodness and its beauty, but thanks to the school we have discovered its interesting history and the link with the Easter feast.
According to some sources, the origins of the Easter Lamb date back to the late nineteenth century when a rich family from Favara, of the agrarian and sulphur mining bourgeoisie, commissioned its preparation for the first time.
According to other testimonies, however, the first to prepare it were the nuns of the Collegio di Maria in the “Batia” district of Favara. Initially the recipe was handed down orally from the older nuns to the younger ones and its production had an essentially artisanal and family character.
Of course, Sweet Easter Lamb could not compete with the most popular sweets, which were the classic “Sicilian Cannoli, and only in the second half of the 1900s did it begin its production on a more industrial level. This favoured its spread not only in Italy, but also abroad.
It is said that on May 12, 1923, the dessert was tasted by Monsignor Roncalli (not yet Pope) when he was visiting Agrigento and stopped in Favara before returning to Rome.
The Pope was so strongly impressed by the taste of the royal paste combined with the fragrance of the almonds that, after his election as Pope, every year for Easter the diocese of Agrigento honoured him with this delicious dessert.
But why is the Lamb one of the most classical symbols of Easter?
Our research has led us to discover that the symbolism of the lamb draws its origins from the Jewish tradition and that it only subsequently arrived in the Christian tradition. The lamb symbolizes mildness and meekness even in the face of death, attitudes that characterized Jesus during the crucifixion.
Innocence and lack of guilt are the basis of the symbolism of the lamb in the Christian religion, and in medieval iconography the triumphal lamb is represented with the head turned back and the right hoof placed on the emblem of the cross. For Christians this became the symbol of the Resurrection, that is, of the defeat of death.
Throughout Sicily, it is customary to prepare the Easter Lamb, but Favara holds the record in the production of Lamb, so much so that it deserves the nickname “City of the Easter Lamb”.
The Favarese Easter Lamb stands out from all the others for the soft heart of pistachio paste that it hides inside. Every year, Favara dedicates a festival to it during which tourists, driven by the curiosity to know the dessert, can watch the preparation of the famous Easter Lamb.
Sweet Easter Lamb Recipe
Ingredients for the preparation:
- icing sugar 1.4 kg
- almonds 1 kg
- Pistachios 1 kg
- Water 500 ml
Its preparation is quite long and laborious, but extremely fascinating.
First of all, it is necessary to blanch and peel the almonds and pistachios. When both ingredients have cooled, grind them separately until you get fine flours.
Then boil 700 g of icing sugar and 250 ml of water in a saucepan, then, after removing the syrup from the flame, add the ground almonds and knead everything until you get a smooth and homogeneous paste.
The same procedure must be followed for pistachios.
Once the almond paste has cooled, insert a part of it into the mould of the Easter Lamb and press it along all the walls of the mould to a thickness of about 1 cm, so as to form what will be the part of the Lamb visible to the eye.
After that, the remaining cavity of the mould is filled with all the almond paste remaining and the cake is left to harden inside the mould before removing it carefully.
Favara’s Easter Lamb can be served as it is (perhaps decorating it with a bow or bell around the neck and a banner planted on the back), or it can be decorated with dyes and chocolates.
To create the lamb’s wool coat, you can use the same food colours that are used to paint the Martorana fruit. Or with sugar fondant and a few silver beads to sprinkle here and there on the mantle. Or, again, it can be created in an even more elegant way by modelling it with a pastry bag containing a little almond paste softened with water.
What a satisfaction!!!! It is a true masterpiece!