Grand Mom Sidotti's Easter Bread
Recipe contributed by Phil Sidotti
Large varieties of bread are a specialty of the towns built in the hills of the Nebrodi Mountains. In fact the
wheat produced in this area is loaded with protein and consequently the flour obtained is high in gluten, when
kneaded the dough acquires a molecular structure, resulting in bread with a soft texture, a golden and crunchy
crust and it is delicious and tasty even a few days after it is baked.
Montalbano Elicona is a town located in the Nebrodi hills, with the Etna volcano in the background on the southern
side and a clear view of the Aeolian Islands at the north side. The town is dominated by a castle built on the top
of the mount by Fredric the II in the XIII century; it is an imposing construction and a tourist attraction. The
water of the Elicona River, down the valley, has made this land rich in agricultural products and livestock and the
bread made with this water has unique features.
San Pier Niceto is a small town 55 miles east of Montalbano Elicona and 12 miles west of Messina, the province’s
capital. In San Pietro di Niceto, the religious observance of the Corpus Domini, forty days after Easter is
celebrated with a feast called ‘nciurata,
infiorata when most of the streets of this clean and quaint
town are decorated with flowers by the inhabitants, who, with love and artistry, renew this yearly tradition by
creating marvelous works of art with religious or allegoric scenes. Parts of the celebrations are religious
processions, music, fireworks and food fairs.
Most of the housewives are excellent bakers and besides making their own delicious bread, over 30 years ago they
established a new event La Sagra del
Biscotto, the Sanpiroto Biscuit Festival, in the first 15 days
of August. These biscotti are flavored with sesame seeds, wild fennels and anise and go well with the sherbet made
with the local lemon.
Mr. Phil Sidotti, whose grand parents were born in Montalbano Elicona and in San Pietro di Niceto, is so kind to
share with us the “Grand Mom Sidotti Easter Bread”, a recipe for biscuits that has been in his family for
We thank Mr. Phil Sidotti and his family for their courtesy.
Mr. Sidotti has a great web site containing Sicilian recipes and some recipes popular in the
Italian- American community. The site is also interesting for the many features presented among them the
Forum, News and some remarkable articles.
We invite you to visit the site at: http://www.italiansrus.com
Makes 100 biscuits
5 pounds flour sifted
1 1/2 cups Crisco melted
3 cups sugar
12 eggs (reserve 6 egg whites for glaze)
6 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart milk
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 ounce anise seed or to taste
Toasted sesame seeds
Scald milk. Set aside to cool and add sugar. Add melted Crisco, reserving enough Crisco for final kneading--set
aside. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm milk. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and set aside to proof. Beat eggs
thoroughly. Mix flour and salt and baking powder in a large pan. Make a well in center -- add cooled milk mixture.
Add eggs and yeast. Incorporate flour gradually until liquid is absorbed and knead until smooth - About 10 minutes.
Place in a large greased pan - cover with waxed paper and put in a warm place to rise - About 4 - 5 hours - until
doubled in size. Punch down and cover again and let rise until doubled in size again. Punch down and let rest while
greasing cookie sheets. Roll dough into braids or other shapes, cover and let rise again briefly - on baking trays.
Bake on greased cookie sheets - 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and brush with
beaten egg white and return to oven for about 5 - 10 minutes.