When Madame Benoît brought Easter bread to share 50 years ago

Madame Jehanne Benoît brought some new ideas to the Take 30 table in 1970, for some Easter bread in shapes often reserved for chocolate.

And lamb-shaped bread at that!

Mme Benoît treats viewers to a lesson in Easter bread-making

Digital Archives

51 years ago
Mme Benoît and her co-hosts at a table laden with Easter breads made with unusual ingredients and in unusual shapes. 1:59

Madame Jehane Benoît, well-known to CBC-TV's audience as the go-to expert for all things culinary, brought not only her baking expertise, but some of her treasured moulds to the Take 30 studio for lessons in making Easter bread extra special.

Seated at a table laden with Easter treats in 1970 — mostly breads in shapes usually reserved for sweets and candies — she was peppered by her co-hosts with questions about the origins of the unusually-shaped bread moulds.

"I haven't seen this before ... why don't we see more of these things used in homes?" she was asked by Take 30 co-host Ed Reid.

"It's a European custom, especially the lamb for Easter, they like to have a lamb on their table," she replied.

"I'm going to have a cake lamb on my table, many of them as a matter of fact," she added.

Lamb-shaped bread

An earthenware bread mould, made in Quebec, used by Jehane Benoît to bake her Easter bread. (Take 30/CBC Archives)

Benoît often brought her traditional cooking tools to the Take 30 studio, and used them in her cooking lessons. 

Now she pointed out the "very old Quebec mould" as the one that would have been used for the pain bénit.

It produced a lamb-shaped bread which was blessed and displayed at the altar during Easter mass.

Over at the baking centre, with her attentive co-hosts by her side, she revealed the secrets to getting the dough into its vessel, to bake it into a lamb that would be possible to remove in perfect shape.

'Never use butter'

The secrets of baking bread in moulds


51 years ago
The main thing to remember is how important the oiling of the pan is when baking bread in moulds. 2:24

"Of course they have, I should say first, to be thoroughly oiled," she cautioned, to allow for an end result that was easy to remove after baking. 

"Never use butter, because this will stick, use oil ... or sweet almond oil, that gives no flavour at all."

With tips and tricks out of the way for getting the dough baked, she described the international origins of some of the unusually shaped and decorated treats.

First up was a loaf decorated with a bow and coloured eggs.

"Now one bread that's moulded in a different way, ... that's the Italian bread and I think it's just beautiful."  

Pointing out the coloured eggs baked in the dough, she explained the method for baking and serving it.

'With the shells still on?'

Italian Easter Bread, made with coloured eggs

Digital Archives

51 years ago
Mme Benoît shows off a traditional Italian Easter bread, garnished with coloured eggs baked right in. 0:54

After the eggs are coloured, she explained, "you put them in the bread dough, uncooked."

"With the shells still on?" asked Reid.

Yes, Benoit added, "with the shell still on, and then they cook in the oven."

Directing all eyes along the table, she pointed to a bread and dairy duo, decorated with flowers.

A 'marvellous' kulich

A kulich loaf, beside the its companion pashka, a Russian tradition

Digital Archives

51 years ago
Mme Benoît has made the traditional Russian Easter bread, kulich, which is served with a moulded cheese called pashka. 1:18

"You have there the Russian one, she pointed out, "which I think is just marvellous to eat.  This is called a kulich."

"This is made, always garnished with a little flower, the kulich, but not the cheese," she explained.

"I just put it for fantaisie," she added.

Pointing to the pashka, she listed the various ingredients, confessing she broke the rule of not using an electric mixer.

"But I'm sorry, I used one," she smiled.

This little lamb with currant eyes and pistachio shell ears was glazed with melted jelly, decorated with a bow and awaited a dusting with icing sugar. (Take 30/CBC Archives)