Easter Dolls (Pupe di Pasqua)

My fondest Easter morning memory takes me back to Italy, to being a child, to being with Nonna Irene. Every Easter she used to make Pupe di Pasqua (traditional Abruzzese Easter Dolls) out of pastry, for us children to dunk in our bowl of milk on Easter morning. Me, my sister Ale and my cousin Elena would be the lucky recipients of lovely peasant girl-like dolls while my brother Giammarco and my cousin Giorgio would devour their horse-shaped dolls in no more than a few bites. As if part of some gruesome tribal ritual, the heads would be the first to go, leaving our dolls bearing a vivid resemblance to Anne Boleyn! And so, it is now my pleasure to pass on such precious legacy and make dolls for my children. Following the family tradition, the doll received the Henry the VIII treatment…


3 eggs

3 tablespoons of olive oil (or EVOO)

4 tablespoons of sugar

75 gr (2/3 cups) almond flour

finely grated lemon zest

150 gr (1-1/3 cups)  flour, well sifted

100 gr (3/4 cup)  of self-raising flour, well sifted

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract

1 egg+2 tablespoons of milk for the glaze


1. Whisk the eggs with sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour in the oil, add the zest and mix well with a wooden spoon.

2. Slowly add the almond flour and the self-raising flour to obtain a dough that is just slightly softer than short pastry. Wrap it in plastic film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Turn the oven on to 170 C (340 F)

4. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Craft the doll according to your esthetics straight onto the tray. Glaze it with the egg and milk wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. You uncovered a precious memory for me. When I saw these pictures, I remembered my grandmother baking these when I was very young. I totally forgot about this until now. They are just beautiful!

    Buona Pasqua, Silvia.

    Silvia Del Priore

    1. Grazie Silvia, your comment made me very happy! Love to you and la famiglia

  2. Adri says:

    Those are wonderful! And the “Henry VIII treatment” is hilarious! Kids are pretty funny, though. Well do I remember giving serious thought to which part of the anatomy would be the first to go. Quite often it was “Off with her head!” Buona Pasqua to you and yours!

    1. Thans Adri! Always the head, that’s all the fan , isn’t it? There e a Queen of Hearts in all of us! Buona Pasqua!

  3. shrutisharma says:

    What an amazing tradition! Thanks for sharing. What does the doll signify and what are the origins of the tradition?

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment.The doll symbolizes fertility and it is traditional from the Abruzzo region of Italy.

  4. Sylvia, another wonderful tradition! I don’t remember my gramma making these, but I love this idea! I have a question……..do you just make one doll with these recipe amounts? Thanks again for sharing.

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