Gingerbread is a traditional peasant dessert whose origins are lost in the mists of time. TO sweet characteristic of festive periodsbecause it is rich in spices, that is, in expensive ingredients that common mortals once rarely could afford.
However, contrary to what one might think according to current habits, It is not a typical dessert for a particular celebration. It was prepared mainly at the end of October, on the occasion of the anniversary of the deceased, but in large quantities. In fact, it was also stored for 6 months, so that it could be used at Christmas, carnival and even Easter.
Then there was a second version, which was prepared in June and used to celebrate the harvest.
Sweet peasant, therefore sweet without rulesprepared according to family tastes and availability: the first written recipes do not appear until the beginning of the 19th century. Even today it is a typically artisanal dessert, prepared in very different ways depending on the area.
Typically considered gingerbread typical of Umbria and Emilia-Romagna (more precisely from Ferrara). There is a discreet difference between the two panpetati, which in turn is multiplied in the infinite recipes that are cooked from the Via Emilia down, to lower Lazio and beyond. But in Umbria the differences multiply even more, to the point that both gingerbread terniI know that from Spoleto and Foligno. The latter is made with a lot of flour, so that it looks like a spicy bread outwardly. On the other hand, Terni’s is more like the gingerbread you see in the photo, with very little flour, but much richer in ingredients, including liqueurs (rosolio and rum), cooked must and restricted coffee.
However, it must be said that Similar desserts are prepared in practically all regions., more ingredient, less ingredient depending on the characteristics of the territory. And they really go back to the Romans, if not before, laying out a path that later divided into infinite paths. Besides gingerbread, this is where panforte of Siena, the pangiallo Roman, I spiced breads very widespread in the Alps, the Carthusian bread of the Po Valley, etc. Including the Panettonewhich is not a product of modern industry, but dates back to the late Middle Ages.
Things that have evidently evolved and been enriched over time following fashions, tastes and new possibilities. He panvinesco Apulia, for example, was originally made simply with semolina, cooked wine, figs and raisins. Today it is found with the addition of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cinnamon, cloves, tangerine peels, orange and lemon, in addition to the already inevitable chocolate.
As for the recipe, it is clear from the premises that Dosages, quantities and even the choice of fruit are very personal.. Our gingerbread, for example, is a hybrid between the Terni version from Umbria and the popular one from northern Lazio. All fruit version, because we like it better that way, especially between Christmas and Epiphany and at Easter, when there is also panettone, pigeons and other similar desserts.
It is preferable that the fruit be peeled, at least almonds and hazelnuts. In the case of nuts, forget about it: be patient with the skin, but only use fresh nuts, discarding any that are moldy or rancid.
Avoid buying already peeled nuts. For some mysterious reason, the industry is still not trustworthy with this product and you are very likely to end up with nuts that taste like rancid oil.
- 70 g peeled and shelled almonds
- 70 g toasted and peeled hazelnuts
- 50 g walnuts
- 50 g pine nuts
- 70 g raisins
- 70 g mixed citron and orange candied fruit
- 120 g dark chocolate bar
- 150 grams of honey
- 5 heaped tablespoons of flour
- black pepper
- Place the raisins in a bowl of warm water and let them soak for about twenty minutes. Drain it and squeeze it gently and delicately / Chop or finely grate the chocolate and set it aside.
- Coarsely chop the walnuts, leaving them in fairly large pieces. Instead, cut the candied fruit into small cubes and place them in a bowl, along with the pine nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and raisins. Sprinkle everything with a pinch of grated nutmeg, a pinch of crumbled cinnamon sticks and a generous pinch of pepper. Complete with a pinch of salt and mix carefully.
- In a saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of water, then lower the heat to as low as possible and add the honey. As soon as the honey has liquefied, add the chocolate and mix, leaving it on the heat (very sweet) for the minimum amount necessary for it to melt.
- Pour the honey with the chocolate into the bowl of nuts and mix everything, stirring. Then, while continuing to mix, gradually add the sifted flour, being careful not to form lumps. Mix well all the ingredients
- Spread the mixture on a small baking tray or bowl lined with baking paper. The pan should not have a large diameter, also because the gingerbread should be 5-6 cm high. The ideal would be to use two pastry molds with a diameter of 10-12 cm. Cook in a preheated oven at 190° for 18-20 minutes. Then let it cool: the gingerbread should be served at room temperature.