Christmas is about tradition. For my last holiday baking post this year, I wanted to share a traditional Italian desert that is a Christmas favourite of mine. My Zia’s make this delicious nut and honey cake every year. It is called spongata and it is a cake that is made in Emilia Romagna, the region in Italy where my father was born.
I love Christmas time because it is a time where I get to spend the most with family. I especially love the time I spend cooking with my Zia. She is always teaching me something new about baking and cooking! My Zia also reminds me of my family’s Italian roots. Most of this teaching is in the kitchen! She never fails to amaze me with her cooking, and I think my whole family can vouch for that!! I’m so glad that took the time to teach me some of her favourite recipes that I can now share with you!!
Dad: “Fra-gee-lay” …it must be Italian!
Mom: I think that says “fragile”, honey.
Dad: Oh, yeah. – A Christmas Story
Spongata is great for gift giving because it can be wrapped up and it is quite sturdy. I love seeing parchment or kraft paper around it and then the disk can be tied up with some red and white twine. It also freezes well, so go ahead and make quite a few at once early in the season and take them out as you need them.
Italian Spongata Recipe
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
- 1 cup marmalade or chunky jam
- 1 3/4 cups honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup raisins golden , soaked in water and drained
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 lemon zest
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp Icing sugar for dusting
- Chop the walnuts finely.
- Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Place in 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 slowly bring to a boil.
- Stir honey mixture into the mixing bowl with the breadcrumb mixture. Add the raisins, pine nuts, and cinnamon. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl and leave to stand in a cool place (not refrigerator) for 2 to 3 days.
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and lemon zest and mix well.
- Place on a pastry board and heap in 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. Divide in two portions (one slightly larger) and shape each piece into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Roll discs trimming one to a 9 1/2 in and the other to a 11 in diameter.
- Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and transfer the smaller disk onto it.
- Spoon filling onto the dough, spreading it out, leaving a 1/2 in border all round the edge.
- Cover with the large disk, pressing the border and edges to seal well
- Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.
- Cool before sprinkling with icing sugar.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Let me know if you try this Italian spongata recipe. If you are crying at the price of pine nuts, check out Costco as that is the cheapest place I have found them.
Safe travels for anyone that is going out of town. I am thinking we may get a white Christmas here, which is not typical, so that is pretty exciting for me. ❄ ❄ ❄ ❄