While Easter is almost round the corner, bakeries, cafes, shops and patisseries all get busy decorating windows with chocolate eggs, chicks and bunnies in all colours and sizes.
Yet, some will crave more traditional treats that can be found during this festive season across the globe. Simnel cake and hot cross buns from the UK, colomba di Pasqua from Italy, kulitch from Russia and Osterchüechli from Switzerland, to name but a few.
A rare regional delicacy
Osterchüechli literary translates as “Easter cake”. Today, it seems, the name is used for all sorts of sweet baked goods – like carrot cake, chocolate rolls or muffins – as long as they are decorated for Easter festivities.
However, traditionally, this is a sweet pastry torte baked with a milky-rice filling and various other ingredients. These include raisins, jam, amaretto, semolina, almonds and lemon zest. The recipe originates from 16th-century Basel.
Osterchüechli is enjoyed mostly in Switzerland and sometimes Germany, making it a rare regional delicacy to look out for. So, if you feel like surprising your guests with this not-so-common cake this Easter, try this recipe.
Make your own Osterchüechli
Osterchüechli can be either cooked as a single tart in a 24 cm / 9 inch diameter tin, or as 4 smaller tarts in 10 cm / 4 inch diameter tins. Certainly if you feel like making life easier, use the pre-cooked pastry tarts. Otherwise, make the dough prior to baking.
For the dough
- 200 g / 1 ¼ cup flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 100 g / ¼ cup soft butter
- 40 g / ½ cup sugar
- zest of ½ lemon
- 1 egg
For the filling
- 500 ml / ½ cup of milk
- 60 g / ¼ cup of sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 120 g / ⅔ cup of long-grain white rice
- a pinch of salt
- 50 g / ¼ cup of soft butter
- 40 g / ¼ cup soft raisins, pre-soaked
- 20 g / ¼ of cup ground almonds
- 3 egg whites
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
For the dough
- Mix the flour, salt, butter, sugar, lemon zest and egg.
- Knead the dough until smooth.
- Butter the tin.
- Roll the dough and place it inside the tin, gently pressing down with your fingers so that the dough follows the shape and its edges.
- Poke tiny holes into the dough with a fork. This will help your pastry base stay nice and flat since the trapped air escapes through the holes while baking.
- Chill the tin with the dough in a fridge.
Meanwhile you can prepare the filling for the Osterchüechli.
For the filling
- Bring a pan with the milk and sugar to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, add lemon zest and vanilla extract. Then add the long-grain white rice to the hot milk and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring while cooking.
- Add a pinch of salt, soft butter, pre-soaked soft raisins, ground almonds. Stir and let the milky-rice mixture cool.
- In a separate bowl, whizz egg whites into a stiff peak.
- Fold the egg whites into the milky rice. Doing this in batches and stirring gently will keep the fluffy and airy texture of the mix.
- Remove the tin with the dough and spread 3 tablespoons of apricot jam over the base of the tin.
- Carefully spread the milky rice filling into the tin, making the surface of the cake even, and bake for 30 minutes at 200° C / 400° F or 40- 45 minutes at 180° C/ 350° F.
Once baked, let Osterchüechli cool before you decorate them. Traditionally Osterchüechli are dusted with some powdered sugar. To make a cuter version of this, cut out bunny shapes from paper and place on your cake before dusting. Carefully remove the paper bunnies to keep the powder in place and the edges sharp.