Pies, cakes, biscuits
Petrali [Christmas pies, somewhat akin to mince pies]
These pies are of ancient origin and their ingredients were once put aside during the year to use on the occasion of the Christmas festivities. The dough with which they are made are: flour, yeast, eggs, olive oil, sugar and sweet, syrupy white wine. Petrali are small disks of dough filled with dried figs, walnuts, almonds, grated tangerine peel, all mixed with vino cotto [literally cooked wine] and honey and flavoured with cinnamon and cloves, and, finally, brushed with egg white and icing. They may be closed or open. The latter are decorated with a lattice of dough and embellished with coloured sprinkles, while the closed ones are coated in white icing or chocolate and embellished with coloured sprinkles.
Ingredients for the pastry: 1 kilo of fine, white wheaten flour, 5 eggs, 100 grams of olive oil or dripping, 200 grams of sugar, 1 glassful of white syrupy wine, a sachet and a half of baking powder of confectioner’s ammonia.
Ingredients for the filling: 1 kilo of honey , 3 kilos of dried figs, 2.5 kilos of peeled almonds, 1.5 kilos of walnuts, 2 glasses of vino cotto, cloves, cinnamon, the rind of one mandarin.
Clean the dried figs and steep them in boiling water for a few minutes, dry and chop them, then place them in a bowl. Peel the almonds and nuts and toast them for a few minutes in a pan. Add the almonds and walnuts to the dried figs and mix them adding the vino cotto and honey until you obtain a smooth paste. Add grated tangerine peel, a pinch of cinnamon and cloves. Place this filling in a pan on the fire until the honey melts, then let it stand. Meanwhile, prepare the dough by mixing the flour, sugar, oil or dripping and adding the baking powder or ammonia. Roll the dough and use a glass to cut out discs of about 10 – 12 centimetres in diameter. Put a tablespoon of the filling on each disc and cover with a lattice of pastry. Bake in a preheated oven (180 ° C). When they are baked, cover them with white icing or chocolate and, above this, sprinkle multi-coloured sugar sprinkles called diavulicchi.
‘Ngute (Easter cakes)
This recipe is typical of Greek Calabria, especially of the municipalities of Melito Porto Salvo, Condofuri and Bova. It is associated with the Lenten period during which it was forbidden to eat foods derived from animals (meat, eggs, cheese…). At last, on Easter Sunday, eggs, preserved during the long period of penance, could be eaten again. Besides the traditional omelette, ‘Ngute, made during days coming up to Easter and garnished with hard boiled eggs, are eaten. It was traditional in Greek-speaking Calabria for a fiancée to make a present of this pie to her fiancé on Easter Sunday. The number of the eggs, always uneven, was a sign of a family’s wealth.
Ingredients for the pastry: 1 kilo of fine white wheaten flour, 5 eggs, 100 grams of olive oil or dripping , 200 grams of sugar, 1 glass of sweet, syrupy white wine, a sachet and a half of baking powder or confectioner’s ammonia
Garnishing: 1 or more hard-boiled egg for each pie.
Mix the flour with the baking powder or ammonia, sugar, oil or dripping, syrupy wine and eggs and make dough. When it is ready, it is possible to cut the dough into various shapes: buns, plaits, baskets, Greek crosses, dolls (called pupazze) etc…. On top of these, place the hard-boiled eggs, shells and all. The eggs are pushed slightly down into the dough and fastened to it with thin cross made of dough. Bake at 180 ° C.
Buffeddi (Christmas pie)
This kind of pie is eaten at Christmas in the Greek Calabrian area. Before Christmas according to tradition, many kinds of biscuits, cakes and pies were prepared and kept in the madia, a typical Italian kneading trough. Buffeddi in particular, because of their particular filling, made from sweet potato, were, especially for less well-off families, a culinary treat.
Ingredients for the pastry: 300 grams of fine white wheaten flour, 3 eggs, 50 grams of sugar, olive oil or dripping , 1 pinch of salt , 1 sachet of baking powder or confectioner’s ammonia, 1 glass of sweet, syrupy white wine.
Ingredients for the filling: 500 grams of sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoonfuls of vino cotto, a pinch of cinnamon and a few cloves.
Make the pastry on a board using the four, oil, sugar, eggs, raising agent and a glass of sweet white syrupy wine; knead, flatten and roll the dough until it is rather thin; then cut it into discs. Boil the sweet potatoes, sieve them and add cinnamon, cloves and the vino cotto, and, if necessary, even a little sugar. At this point, spoon the right amount of filling onto each disc; then fold the discs in two, thus obtaining a half moon shape, and deep fry them in olive oil .
Scaddateddi /scaldatelle/taralli [
This recipe is typical of the Bova area. These friable doughnuts are spiced with cimino (carum carvi) tiny seeds with an aniseed flavour. These were usually eaten at breakfast and often given to wedding guests as a kind of “favour” to thank them for their gifts.
Ingredients for the pastry: 1 kilo of fine white wheaten flour, 1 glass of sweet, syrupy white wine, 1 glass of olive oil , 1 pinch of sale, 15 grams of brewer’s yeast.
Mix the flour, oil, wine, salt and caraway seed on the pastry board. Dissolve the raising agent in a small amount of warm water and add it to the other ingredients. Knead the dough until it is soft and very pliable. Divide the pastry into strips and roll these into “strings” as thick as a finger and about 20 centimetres long. Press the two ends of the strings together to form a ring (once this joining was made using a family seal, so that each one might recognise its own when confectionary was baked in the village oven). Allow the rings to stand, covered by a cloth, for about 1 hour. Preheat the oven and, meanwhile, boil about three litres of water and two tablespoonfuls of oil in a large pot. When the water boils, scald the rings in the water, one at a time, (remove them when they come to the surface of the water), drain them and bake them at a temperature of 200°C until they are golden.
This is a fried pastry twine. This deep-friend pastry is made for the Christmas festivities because they are believed to represent a child’s crib, as the name Nnacatuli suggests (naca in Calabrian dialect is a crib or cradle). In actual fact, the Naca was a very particular kind of crib, once widespread in southern Italy, originally made from the hide of a sheep, later from homespun cloth, swung on a wooden frame and suspended above the child’s parents’ bed, where it was fastened with a rope. In ancient and classical Greek nake, naka in Crete, was the name given to the hide of a sheep or goat, and the particular use to which it was put, probably accounts for its semantic association with “cradle”.
Ingredients for the pastry: 300 grams of fine white wheaten flour, 3 eggs, 50 grams of di sugar, olive oil or dripping , 1 pinch of sale, 1 sachet of baking powder or confectioner’s ammonia, 1 glass of sweet, syrupy white wine.
Make the pastry on a board mixing and kneading the flour, sugar, eggs, raising agent and a glass of sweet white syrupy wine. Roll strips of the kneaded dough into strings of about 40 centimetres in length, take a spindle or knitting needle and twist the strings of pastry around it 5 or 6 times to make a spiral. Remove it from spindle press it lightly against the mesh of the flour sieve so that the pattern will remain impressed on the surface of the pastry. Deep fry these “spirals” in boiling olive oil. Once fried, dry off the excess oil with kitchen paper.