Christmas is just around the corner and a brief look around reveals the magical atmosphere of the season.
Illuminated streets, decorated houses…and the smell of sweet treats in the air!
After all, what kind of a Christmas would it be without sweet treats?
Mothers and grandmothers in every region cannot wait for December to arrive, so that they can indulge themselves in the kitchen. And this is also the case in the Alto Adige!
Among the typical local specialities of the Christmas period there is the Zelten, whose origins are lost in the mists of time.
Indeed, the very first recipe appears to have been found in a manuscript from the 1700s.
It is said that in times gone by this cake was prepared on the 21st of December, on the Feast of St Thomas. Usually, the whole family participated in the preparation of the cake, but women had a particular interest, because as they prepared they would ask St Thomas to bring love into their life (that is, they would request a man to marry and settle down with). Mothers also took part in the ritual, marking the centre of the cake with a cross and blessing it before baking.
As for the recipe, many different versions exist depending on the local area. The recipe typical of our region requires dried figs, raisins, sultanas, dates, candied fruits, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts and orange peel. All of these ingredients are mixed in a tureen and covered with orange juice, brandy and sugar. After leaving the mixture to rest overnight, rum and certain herbs (cloves, cinnamon, pimiento and star anise) are added and the mixture is then combined with the dough. This mixture is formed into the desired shape, decorated with walnuts and almonds, drizzled with honey and syrup, and then cooked. Once taken out of the oven, the cake is decorated again with candied fruits, and is then ready to be served!
Are you ready to taste Christmas in the Alto Adige?
We await you in Tyrol!