Celebrate Easter All Year Long with French Cloche Bells

Not everyone celebrates Easter with chocolate Easter eggs. The French have a charming tradition that honors the Spring Holiday with both sweet chocolate and savory bread.

During the medieval period, the Church in Rome dictated that from Good Friday to Easter Sunday all village church bells in France would be silenced to honor the liturgy of Christ’s suffering.

And while this might seem a noble idea in the Vatican, it was one that caused great concern in France’s small rural towns.  

For you see, in a world without clocks and phones, the church bells regulated the activities of the everyday worker.  Their tolling marked the start of day before the sun rose and its end as the star came out. Without their rising, life was without order or focus.

To justify their silence, local priests created a legend that the bells, high in their church towers, actually flew through the air to Rome on the eve of Good Friday carrying all the sins of the villages with them.

Once in Rome, the reigning Pope would absolve the collective sins and send the bells flying back through the air, ready to ring loud and clear on Easter morning. 

Over time what was once thought of as fact transformed itself into a charming tradition, one now celebrated by the French through the exchange of chocolate bells on Easter morning.

These sweet bells, or “cloche” as they are called in French, are often molded and elaborately decorated. But that is not the only “cloche” honored in French cuisine.

Since medieval times, French bakers have used clay cloche or bell pans to bake their bread in. Their design insures a crisp crust and a cloud soft interior. In other words, a perfect French loaf.

Commercial made cloche pans are available and are excellent. You can also create a personal cloche from unglazed terra cotta pots.

Add a stainless steel ring hook to seal the planter drainage hole. Oil the base plate and preheat in the oven before adding your raised dough. (Be careful when transferring the dough not to touch the heated the lower plate).

Bake at the temperature and time stated in your recipe. The results will make you want to celebrate Easter all year long!

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2013