With recipes for this Easter cake dating back to the Middle Ages, the mona de pascua has evolved with the times but one thing remains - it’s still the most popular Easter treat in Spain!
The traditional mona is a circular, donut-shaped brioche garnished with hard boiled eggs - an indulgence Christians would have been abstaining from through Lent - but they also symbolize fertility and new life at springtime. In modern times, the cake has taken on an altogether more flamboyant style, topped with colorful feathers and chocolate eggs and featuring jams, sugared almonds and other confectionery. You’ll see it in just about every bakery around Easter and it’s still the center of family celebrations during these spring holidays.
The word mona is said to come from the Arabic word “munna”, meaning “gift”. In Spain, it’s the job of the godparents or grandparents of the child to give the mona de pascua, and previously the recipe called for one hard-boiled egg a year on top of the cake until the child reached twelve years old (the age when they would receive their church confirmation). Nowadays, this egg counting is not so widely honored, but families still get together on Easter Sunday or Monday to enjoy their Easter cake, usually as merienda - Spain’s equivalent to afternoon tea.
The origins of the mona de pascua lie in Valencia and Catalonia, so Barcelona was the natural choice for the first edition of a professional baking contest in Easter 2022: La Millor Mona de Pasqua de Catalunya. This promotes and upholds the tradition surrounding this indulgent Easter sweet treat. Divided into two categories, a team of judges picked the best of the mona tradicional - the aforementioned brioche style - and the best mona de chocolate de forma de huevo - essentially a fancy Easter egg creation - from across the regions, with some pretty impressive results!
So, how will you take your mona de pascua Easter eggs: Hard-boiled or chocolate?