Traditional French recipes for Easter weekend

Two delicious seasonal treats - one savoury and one sweet - to enjoy this weekend

In France at Easter time, classic main course offerings include herby roasted lamb, served perhaps with gratin Dauphinois, or navarin d’agneau (lamb stew).

However, head to the rural regions and some traditional recipes are worth trying out as an alternative to the meat and potatoes on offer.

Pâte de Paques de Limousin, for example, is a dish of modest origins that uses ingredients symbolising new life and fresh growth – young spinach and nettles. They are cooked down, added to a little cream and encased in pastry, with whole hard boiled eggs added (one per person).

This recipe comes from Régine Rossi Lagorce.

Ingredients (per person – multiply by 6 for a family sized cake tin):

100g of unsweetened leavened dough (see recipe below)

200g of raw spinach mixed with nettles (sorrel or chard are good alternatives), chopped and washed

1 hard boiled egg

Salt and pepper

½ tsp cream

1 tbsp grated nutmeg

For the dough

50g flour

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon warm milk

10g melted butter

1 tbsp yeast

To grease the tin: butter, margarine or parchment paper.


Prepare the dough:

Dilute the yeast in the milk. In a bowl, add the flour, salt and stir with a fork. Add the milk / yeast mixture and mix.

Add the butter and mix. Add ½ small glass of warm water and mix with your fingertips.

The dough should be elastic and supple (if necessary add a little water if it lacks suppleness or a little flour if it is too soft). Form a ball.

Cover with a cloth and place in a warm place protected from drafts. Leave to rise for an hour.

Prepare the filling:

Heat a saucepan and spinach and / or other green leaves, stir until melted and cook for five minutes.

Drain off any excess liquid and put them back in the pan, add salt and pepper, cream and nutmeg. Mix and set aside.

Cut off the end of each egg up to the yolk. Once the dough is ready, divide it into two thirds/one third.

Flour the table and roll out two thirds of the dough before laying it into the cake tin (it must go up to the top of the tin).

Garnish the bottom of the tin with half the spinach. Along the middle place the eggs in a row and cover with the rest of spinach.

Roll out the rest of the dough and place it on the tin as a lid, firmly securing the edges.

In the middle make some knife cuts. Brush with a little milk.

Bake without preheating and cook 50 minutes at 180C.

Once cooked, remove it from the tin and cut into slices at the table

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For a sweet treat afterwards, try making your own Mouna oranaise de Pâques, a traditional recipe of Algerian/Spanish origin for orange flavoured brioche buns.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 kg of flour

fresh yeast

pinch of salt

5 eggs

250 g butter

Zest of one lemon and one orange

Juice of one orange

1 tbsp of aniseed grains

250g sugar

1 egg yolk

granulated or crushed sugar


Infuse the aniseed grains in a bowl of boiling water and allow to cool.

Prepare the dough by crumbling the yeast with 250 g flour and a little of the aniseed water. Knead slightly and set aside until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, sugar, melted butter, lemon zest, orange zest, orange juice, a pinch of salt and the rest of the flour. Slowly knead for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and no longer sticks to the fingers. Leave the dough to stand for about six hours in a warm place.

After this time, knead again. Make four balls and brush with beaten egg yolk with a little water. Make a cross incision with scissors and put crushed or granulated sugar.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes.

Keep an eye on them as they cook, if necessary cover with foil if the pastry catches.