When is a pizzell a pizza? Never, it’s a delicious Italian wafer. Photo by Filomena Cesta

Baking Joy at Our Lady of Sorrows

  • June 13, 2024

Pizzelle. Pizzelle?

I was intrigued. Is it a miniature pizza? 

No, it turns out, it’s a delicious Italian wafer, and was part of a joyful parish project that manifested God’s love and compassion during recently challenging times.

The pizzelle recipe was included in a dessert book put together by the parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows Church (OLS) in Etobicoke during the pandemic. Fr. Chris Cauchi, the much-appreciated pastor there, had sent this collection to help me delight my dear father’s sweet tooth. Fr. Cauchi began his ministry at OLS when the parish community couldn’t congregate in person for Mass or any other social gatherings where they could share food and get to know one another. So, as he explained, an “amazing” parish team came up with the idea of asking parishioners to share the recipes for their favourite desserts, adding “I was delighted by the parishioners’ response and excitement.”

One member of this team was Hannah Ho-Keuthen, who completed the design of the book to which she contributed 2 of the 36 mouth-watering recipes. She had just joined the OLS parish. A creative director with graphic design experience, she came back to Catholicism after losing both her parents who died within 32 hours of each other. “Something went over me,” she related, “a wake-up call,” and she started questioning a lot of things about life. Her devout brother told her: “We need to pray.” She discovered OLS through a Google search, and found a new home where she could grieve and heal by participating in this project.

According to Luisa McKee, OLS’s Communications Coordinator, the OLS Dessert Recipe Book was initially available on their website in 2022 as an Easter gift from the parish. The following year, they decided to have printed copies available for Mother’s Day, with proceeds from the sale going towards the parish’s maintenance fund.

“It was really nice to see how proud everyone was to share,” said Ho-Keuthen, and the recipe book continues to be used for creating treats for parish events.

The provider of the pizzelle recipe was Filomena Cesta. She explained that this treat originated from the 8th century in Abruzzo, a central region of Italy, where her family originated. Originally made with cast iron pizzelle makers over a fire, pizzelles are now made with an electric iron that has intricate snowflake-like designs on its griddle. The iron makes two pizzelles at a time. Using her iron, Cesta places about a tablespoon of batter on each grid (quantities vary depending on the manufacturer), and presses down the iron for about a minute. Pizzelles can be served flat, or moulded into a cannoli or cup, and served with ice cream or jam. She has enjoyed trying other parishioners’ recipes in the book as well.

So, did the recipe delight my father? I made half of it as 30 pizzelles seemed like too many. After sampling the pizzelles from Filomena Cesta’s recipe, he said, “Next time, please make the full recipe”.

Filomena Cesta’s “Classic Italian Pizzelle”

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

½ cup Becel margarine (or butter)

2 tsp vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon plus juice squeezed from ½ lemon

Zest of 1 orange plus juice squeezed from ½ orange

1 ¾ cup of all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1.     Beat eggs, sugar, margarine until fluffy and smooth.

2.     Add vanilla, as well as lemon and orange zest and juices.

3.     Fold in dry ingredients – flour and baking powder – into egg mixture batter until well blended.

4.     Preheat the pizzelle electric iron.

5.     Place 1 Tbsp of batter per side of iron grid, press down, and bake until golden – 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Makes approximately 30 pizzelles.

Lea Karen Kivi is President of Angela's Heart Communications and a regular Register contributor.

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