Food News

A Good Egg

The Mediterranean baking tradition is alive and well at Vesta Bakery

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“Baking a hard-boiled egg into a loaf of bread isn’t difficult,” says Allyson Mansfield, owner of Vesta Bakery in Westerly. “But there are a few tricks to ensure a beautiful loaf.”

Mansfield bakes an incredible range of breads and pastries in her shop, and she specializes in elaborate, multitiered wedding cakes. But one of her busiest times is Easter, when customers request traditional braided loaves. This special bread is known as Tsoureki in Greek and Pane di Pasqua in Italian, and when Holy Week approaches, they sell like, well, hotcakes.

“I have a love-hate affair with this bread,” Mansfield admits. “I love tradition and recipes handed down from generation to generation. The loaf is beautiful and fun to make. My grandmother used to make this bread.” But to cook for a large family, her grandmother would bake the bread in advance and keep it around for days, so the freshness was lost by Easter dinner. “Then, like all good Italian grandmothers who waste nothing, days later she would make egg salad from the eggs that had been sitting at room temperature. To this day, I still can’t look at egg salad.”

Family quirks aside, Mansfield dutifully bakes the bread because demand is so high in South County. She also creates a Colomba di Pasqua, a citrusy sweet bread shaped like a dove and topped with almonds. “Now we offer both kinds during the Easter season, as well as hot cross buns,” Mansfield says. But “the braided loaf with the eggs is available by preorder only.” Westerly