Christmas Dessert Recipes from Maremma Tuscany

This is the time of year when desserts have that particular and irresistible aura about them… especially in Italy, where you can rarely go wrong with pastry!

Things are no different in Maremma, where the seasonal dishes make Christmas extra special and delicious. To sweeten up your last days of 2014 and to welcome 2015, whether you are in southern Tuscany or elsewhere, here are two of our favorite local specialties!

Pagnottella di Natale

A Christmas Loaf that is typical from the sea village of Porto Santo Stefano.
Pagnottella di Natale, image from atavolaconmammazan.blogspot.it

Pagnottella di Natale, image from atavolaconmammazan.blogspot.it

The ingredients:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 1 kg dry figs
  • 1 kg peeled almond
  • 400 gr raisins
  • ½ kg walnuts
  • ½ kg hazelnuts
  • 100 gr pine nuts
  • Orange peel cut into small pieces
  • 100 gr jam
  • Cinnamon aroma
  • 50 gr yeast (Italian lievito di birra)

How to cook it:
Cut the dry figs and the orange peel into small pieces. Dilute the yeast in lukewarm water and knead half of the flour to create a small bread. Carve a small X-shaped cut, cover it with a cloth and let it rise. When the small bread has doubled its volume, put it in a big bowl, work well the dough and add all the ingredients bit by bit, including the remaining flour. When everything is blended shape the dough like a big bread loaf and let it bake like bread it in the hot oven at 180°C.

Castagnaccio di Saturnia

This chestnut flour cake is a typical autumnal dessert in Maremma. However, the area of Saturnia – famous for the thermal hot springs – has a special Christmas version too.
Castagnaccio from Saturnia. Christmas dessert

Castagnaccio from Saturnia. Christmas dessert, image from viviconstile.it

The ingredients:

  • 400 gr chestnut flour
  • 25 gr sugar
  • 100 gr pine nuts
  • 100 gr grinded nuts
  • 80 gr raisins
  • 3 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • As needed: rosemary, salt, water

How to cook it:
Dissolve the flour in cold water until you get a soft batter. Add sugar, the three olive oil spoons, a pinch of salt and the rosemary. Mix well using a whisk, until you get a homogeneous dough. Add the raisins, the pine nuts and the walnuts. Let rest for at least one hour. Brush the bottom of the pan with olive oil, then pour the mix (the dough should be no thicker than 2 cm). Then place the castagnaccio in the oven.

Buon Appetito!