Ten provinces compose Tuscany, each one with hundreds of traditional dishes. This is a tasty tour through all these provinces in order to discover the traditional and representative cake or dessert of each area. Enjoy and forget about calories for a while!
The Buccellato of Lucca is the cake of this city. It is simple but very tasty, dark brown coloured and shiny for the brushing of sugar and eggs on its surface. It can have the shape of a donut or it can be oval. Buccelato is made of a sweet and soft pastry, with a lot of raisins and aniseed. It is sold fresh daily.
In the province of Massa Carrara, there is a cake made with eggs, rice, milk and liquor called “torta di riso” or rice cake. The finished product is a circular or rectangular cake, depending on the baking sheet, composed by a layer of rice as a base and a layer of a cream-type pudding. The surface has a caramel-brown colour, inside it is creamy yellow, and the smell is delicate and pleasantly flavoured.
The " bischeri " of the cake have different meanings, but for sure is referred to the “pricks” obtained by shaping the pastry around the edges, forming a circle of cones. The base of the cake is a pastry-like and the filling is prepared with rice, cocoa, chocolate, eggs, sugar, pine nuts from the Pisa area, as well as with candies, raisins and enriched with some spices, such as nutmeg and “Strega” liqueur. The “Torta co’ bischeri” is originally from Pontasserchio, near Pisa, and it was first made around the beginning of the sixteenth century as an offering to the pilgrims who visited the town every April 28th for the feast of SS. Crucifix of Miracles.
Schiaccia briaca is a kind of sweet flat bread topped with pine nuts, raisins and dried fruit, which has an Oriental flavour. Since the nineteenth century, Aleatico red wine has also been added to the bread. A little of the liqueur Alkermes may also be added to deepen the red colour of this bread.
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina is a delicious spongy cake widely consumed during Carnival. It is covered with icing sugar and with a “Giglio” (lily) of Florence in cocoa at the centre. You can find it plain or filled with whipped cream, chocolate, cream and jam. It's great eaten warm.
The “Brigidini of Lamporecchio” are thin, crispy and fragrant waffles, rounded and curled, gold-orange in colour, with a diameter of about 7 cm. They are made with eggs, sugar, anise or fennel seeds, and very little water and flour. They are traditionally sold in the streets during fairs and festivals, cooked directly by vendors with the help of a special machine, before being packed in transparent, long and narrow bags.
Pesche di Prato are rounded brioches soaked in alkermes liqueur and paired with custard, then covered with sugar, resembling the shape and skin of natural peaches. It’s said they were first made at the end of March in 1861 during a huge dinner party in Prato’s Piazza del Duomo celebrating Italian unification.
Among the traditional cakes of Arezzo, we can count the “baldino” and the “gattò”, but there is one even more known as “panina”, that can be “gialla” (yellow) or (oily). There are two versions: one that is called “unta” (greasy) and is enriched with Tuscan bacon; the second one, called “gialla” (yellow), it's slightly sweet and contains raisins and saffron, which gives the classic mixture a golden hue. In Arezzo, the tradition is that you have to eat a slice of hard-boiled egg with panina (blessed by the priest for the believers) and slices of salami.
The “sfratto” (meaning “eviction” in English) is a sweet from an old Jewish tradition, adopted by the cuisine of the Maremma area, in particular in Pitigliano and Sorano, located in the province of Grosseto. The origin of the “sfratto” is related to the decision of Cosimo II Medici, in the early 1600s, to bring together all the Jews of Pitigliano in a single neighbourhood. The Jews were evicted from their homes and the notice of eviction was carried out by beating with a stick on the door of the house. To prevent the recurrence of similar events, local Jews turned into sweetness things that in the past had caused bitterness, creating sweets in the form of sticks, the same ones with which they were expelled. Their mixture, consisting of honey, orange peel, nuts, seeds of anise and nutmeg, is enclosed in a thin wafer, with a golden colour and modelled into the shape of a stick.
The original version of this article was written by Serena Puosi.