During Easter time, Cuzzupa is a traditional dessert enjoyed in Calabria, and particularly in the province of Catanzaro. It is made by hand and can take various shapes, including those of hearts, plaits, baskets, and snail shells. According to Calabrian tradition, every member of the household should have a “Cuzzupa” cake prepared for them, and the size of the cake depends on the rank of the person; the largest being for the head of the family and the cakes become smaller as they progress towards the children. The number of eggs placed in the cake has a further significance. In fact, if a prospective mother-in-law gives her future son-in-law a cake with 9 eggs, this means the engagement to her daughter is renewed, and a cake with seven eggs means the engagement can progress to marriage.Grandmother Adriana prepares “Cuzzupa” during Easter time for her grandchildren, who much prefer this dessert to the classic commercialised “Columba” (dove-shaped sponge cake).
Start by separating 4 egg yolks from the whites, and beat the yolks with the sugar. Once you've obtained a smooth cream, add the oil and the lemon peel. Stir in the flour and then the yeast dissolved in milk. Work the mixture to obtain a dry, solid dough. Following this, separate part of the dough: one part is needed for making the various shapes of the cake, and the other for decorating it.
Once you've made the chosen shape, which can also be ring-shaped, press the eggs firmly into the dough and wrap them with strips of the dough previously kept apart, as a decoration. Bake for about 40 minutes at 150°C. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks and stir in the icing sugar to form the icing, which is spread onto the cake once it is cooked. Sprinkle a little chocolate on top to finish.