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Christmas Pie

Spongata
Serves 6
Preparation: 2 hours plus 2-3 days' resting for the filling
Cooking: 25 minutes
Recipe grading: complicated

 

A classic Renaissance dessert, usually served at Christmas time. It is a specialty of two Emilian towns, Brescello and Busseto, the latter being the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi. Christmas Pie

 

For the filling:
Scant 1 cup/4 oz/125 g walnuts
Scant 1 cup/3-1/2 oz/100 g fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 cup/11 oz/300 g chunky jam
1-3/4 cups/1 lb/500 g clear runny honey
1/2 cup/4 fl oz/125 ml water
1/2 cup/3 oz/90 g seedless golden raisins/sultanas,
   soaked in water; well drained
1/2 cup/3 oz/90 g pine nuts
Dash of ground cinnamon

For the pastry:
2-1/2 cups/l0 oz/300 g all-purpose/ plain flour
Scant 1/2 cup/3-1/2 oz/100 g superfine/caster sugar
Dash of salt
Finely grated zest/peel of 1 lemon
2/3 cup/5 oz/150 g butter; cut into small pieces
1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
Confectioners'/ icing sugar

 

Chop the walnuts finely.

Spread the breadcrumbs out on a shallow baking sheet. Place in a moderate oven to brown lightly.

Chop the fruit pieces in the jam into very small pieces.

Place the jam, walnuts, and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl.

Pour the honey into a small saucepan with the water and bring slowly to a boil.

Stir into the mixing bowl with the nut and breadcrumb mixture. Add the golden raisins, pine nuts, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave to stand in a cool place (not in the refrigerator) for 2-3 days.

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar; salt, and lemon zest (with no pith) and mix well.

Turn out onto a pastry board and heap up into a mound. Make a well in the center, then add the butter, using your fingertips to rub it into the flour. The mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and yolks and combine, working the pastry dough briefly. Shape it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap (cling film). Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Divide the dough in two portions, one slightly larger than the other. Roll them out into two disks, trimming one to 9-1/2-in/24 cm, the other to 11 in/28 cm in diameter. (Use the lower edges of suitable size saucepan lids, dipped in flour, for neatness.)

Place a sheet of silicone baking paper on a baking sheet and transfer the smaller disk carefully onto it.

Give the filling a final stir and spoon it onto the pastry dough, spreading it out, but leaving a 1/2 in/1 cm border all round the edge.

Cover with the large disk, pressing the border and edges to seal well (trim off any overlapping dough from the larger disk). Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F/190 degrees C/Gas 5 for 25 minutes.

Leave to cool before sprinkling with sifted confectioners' sugar.

Buy the Book!

 

Flavors of Italy: Emilia Romagna
By Rosalba Gioffrè
Time Life Books, 1999
Hardback, $16.95
Color photos throughout
ISBN: 0-7370-0013-9
Recipe reprinted by permission.

 

Flavors of Italy: Emilia Romagna

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This page created October 2000


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