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April 8, 2016     Post-Gazette
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April 8, 2016
 

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rr PAGE 4 POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 8, 2016 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Nothing Fresher than Spring Baking/ Last year, as I was watch- ing the Pioneer Woman pre- pare homemade fruit pizzas on the Food Network, an ad came on for a new show entitled Spring Baking. The commercial began with a voiceover narration asking: "So, what exactly is spring baking?" followed by images of people decorating cup- cakes to resemble flowers. The question struck a chord with me because, while I am an avid baker who makes treats all year long. I par- ticularly associate baking with the season of autumn. The cool weather and dusky nights seem appropriate for an evening spent in the hon- eyed glow of a kitchen, feeling the warmth radiating from the oven. Moreover, fall of- fers a bounty of ingredients suitable for baking, from tart apples to juicy pears to sharp, spicy ginger. However, autumn is far from my thoughts as I enjoy the beautiful springtime. Everything gets me excited, from the days when the ther- mometer reaches upwards of seventy degrees to the buds growing bigger and greener on the tips of tree branches. I am also getting excited for the new baking opportunities spring offers. Fresh, seasonal ingredi- ents and inspiration from Italy make for a valuable and fun baking experience during the spring. Citrus: Spring is a wonder- ful time to use up the last of the citrus fruits left over from winter. Moreover, citrus is a staple in Italian cookkg, due to the abundant lemon atd orange groves that dot the laniscape of southern Italy and islands. The zest of lemons (lin.one] and oranges (arancia) flavored the many Italian desserts lining the tables of bridal showers and weddings I remember all my life, from soft-baked, glazed cook/es, by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz to the waffle-like biscuits known as pizzelle. I love to use citrus in recipes like creamy lemon bars and orange-scented cakes. For Easter, I made a classic Italian ricotta pie accentuated by both lemon and orange peels. In short, citrus desserts are a great way to bid goodbye to the cold weather and welcome in spring[ Tropical: As the days get warmer and the summer is so near I can practically smell sunscreen and sand, my mind wanders to the flavors of the tropics. I happen to love ba- nana bread, a trait I inherited from my father. Moist, spongy banana breads are an easy rec- ipe to make and offer a quick, healthy breakfast or snack op- tion. One of my other favorite desserts has to be pineapple upside down cake. An impres- sive finale to any spring meal, these cakes blend the delectable taste of pineapple along with a sweet caramelized topping. Of course, on days when you feel that only an all-inclusive ple{h- ora of tropical fruits will satiate iiii~iiiiiiiii>i~ii i ?>iiiiiiii U