The Mona de Pasqua (Easter cake) is a sweet pastry typical of Catalonia, generally decorated with hard-boiled eggs. This pastry is called “mona” – monkey in Catalan- because it’s said the first ones had the shape of that animal or put a monkey figure on top. Its name comes from the Arabic word munna (gift): in Catalonia, they are given by godparents to their nieces and nephews up until they make their first communion; in the Valencia region, grandparents give them to their grandchildren and uncles and aunts to their nieces and nephews.
This is a tradition from the 15th century. In its origins the “mona” was a round cake similar as a big donut with some boiled eggs on top. The number of eggs was the same of the age of the godson (no less than 2 and no more than 12). During the Lent (40 days before Easter) the Catholic Church prohibited to eat meat and eggs so people kept all the eggs from the hens until Easter and put some of them on the “mona”.
The egg symbolises the resurrection of Christ; the Mona de Pasqua is usually eaten on Easter Monday. Although there are many variations, the basic ingredients are flour, eggs and sugar; cinnamon and grated lemon rind are also added. If the sweet is shaped as a round cake, the hard-boiled egg is placed in the centre; if it doughnut-shaped, various eggs are placed around the circle: then it is baked in the oven. These days, the boiled eggs are often replaced by chocolate eggs, which are placed on top after the cake has been baked.
Also, in these modern times, confectioners make more sophisticated cakes and the eggs are substituted by figures made in chocolate. Some confectioners are very good artists and present truly artistic cakes.
Video: © infocatalan