Whatever you do this Easter, don’t offer Nadine Ingram a chocolate egg. The Sydney baker and the talent behind one of the city’s favourite bakeries, Flour and Stone, was brought up with standard Easter traditions – egg hunts, chocolate, more chocolate – but these days, she prefers her treats straight from the oven. “Chocolate?” she says. “You can have that any time of year.”
Easter is a busy time for Ingram. The bakery goes into a hot cross bun production frenzy and this year she’s bringing brioche into the picture, too. (Whack it in the toaster for a few minutes on Easter morning, she says – “wow”). Work duties aside, come the Easter long weekend it’s all about spending time with family. And baked goods – lots of baked goods.
“Now, for Easter, we borrow from Europe more than Australia,” Ingram says. “We steer away from chocolate and try to find out more about what the Europeans eat. I think it’s far more interesting.”
One of her favourite Easter recipes is derived from the Italian myth of Parthenope, a mermaid from the coast of Naples who would rise from the watery depths to serenade the city. The people of Naples repaid her with ricotta, orange blossoms, flour and spices, which the sea gods then crafted into the Easter tart known as pastiera. “It’s just the most amazing story,” Ingram says. “I’m much more into myths than the Easter bunny.”
It’s recipes like this – warm, homey and laden with tradition – that take centre stage in Ingram’s Easter spread. She shares some of her greatest hits, sweet enough to convert even the most committed egg-lover. And no, she won’t advise leaving space for store-bought chocolate afterwards. “A well-baked cake trumps it any day,” she says. “Or ice-cream. That’s my vice.”