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3rdEaster will be celebrated next Sunday, so now is time to think of traditional treats, and these extend way beyond chocolate eggs and spicy hot cross buns.

Countries around the world have their Easter favourites and bread, surprising as it may sound, tops the list. For observant Christians, after the long fast of Lent during which rich foods such as eggs, milk, fruit and desserts are avoided, Easter is the time to indulge, and for many people, sweet breads serve this purpose to the full.

Russian Easter breads are legion in shape and flavour, although kulich (a sumptuous, cylindrical bread bursting with candied fruit, cardamom, nuts, raisins and saffron, with plenty of eggs, milk and sugar in the mix and decorated with red dyed, hard-boiled eggs) is the most popular and – as if this was not enough – it is served with a slice of strong cheese!

Croatians take the celebration a little more lightly with sirnica – sticky, sweet bread redolent with finely grated citrus peel and oozing with rosewater. It has to be sniffed at to be believed and as for the taste… it is just heavenly!

The Italians, bread making being one of their fortes, claim a regional variety of Easter breads although it is a heavyweight delight from the Friuli region – gubana – stuffed with nuts, raisins and chocolate; yes, chocolate, that comes up trumps.

Armenian choerea, Czech houska, Bulgarian kozunak, Dutch paasbrood, Greek tsoureki, Portuguese folar de Pascoa, Spanish hornazo and Ukranian babka are just a few of the hundreds of Easter breads specially baked at this time of the year and, overwhelming as the variety is, one has to wonder why it is that the tasty – yet rather staid British hot cross bun – remains number one in the Easter bread parade.

– B Khan
First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 13, 2014.