Monday, 7 March 2011

GOURMET WORDS FROM THE ITALIAN RIVIERA: PANDOLCE - GENOA CAKE


Pandolce basso according to pasticceria Panarello

Known all over the world as “Genoa cake”, the spendid emblem of Genoese Christmas pasticceria inherited a 16th century wealth of ingredients (raisins, pine nuts, candied fruit…) from ancient Eastern traditions. The origins of this demanding preparation (a cook’s pièce de résistance) are said to date back to Andrea Doria, who announced a competition dedicated to the master pastry chefs of the Superba. Pandolce is must throughout Liguria, from Sanremo (IM), where it is called the “pan du bambin”, to Alassio (SV), where it is lavishly prepared by pasticceria Cacciamani.
Ingredients include flour, yeasts (leavening takes up to 6 hours), butter, pine nuts, sugar, fennel seeds, candied citron cubes, raisins, orange flower water, an optional dash of Marsala wine (once, they also featured acacia honey). 24 hours after baking, the time has come for the ritual laurel bough decoration and for consumption. The first piece is still to be cut by the youngest member of the family. One slice was reserved for the first beggar who knocked at the doorand a special portion (wrapped) was set aside for February 3rd, when San Biagio, the throat’s patron saint, was feasted. The pandolce basso (a relatively recent recipe): a low cake, asking for a shorter preparation, richer in eggs and poorer in yeast. Ancient Ligurian lore accounts for the habit of bringing the rough bun to the baker for a bit of professional cooking... Wine matching: moscato, DOC Golfo del Tigullio (pandolce alto); passito, DOC Riviera di Ponente or DOC Val Polcevera (pandolce basso).

Luisa Puppo
Ligucibario

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