For the uninitiated, the world of Canestrelli can be a confusing one. Depending on where in Italy it is baked, a canestrello can be a thin wafer, a plain or iced biscuit, two biscuits sandwiched together with a filling, or a cake. It can be made from puff pastry or shortcrust pastry and flavoured with olives, nuts, chocolate, lemon, spices, or alcohol. It can be square, oblong, look like a daisy with a hole in the middle, or a donut of varying sizes. Sometimes it is said to resemble the shell of a scallop, also called a canestrello. In Lunigiana it is a cake, resembling a large donut. A similar version can found in Brugnato in the nearby Val di Varo, but there it is flavoured with aniseed.
One of the earliest mentions of the canestrello in Lunigiana is that it was one of the specialities of the Caffé Ceppellini in Pontremoli, favoured by Carlo III of Bourbon, Duke of Parma, on his frequent visits to the town. in the 1800s, Caffé Ceppellini, which no longer exists, could be found on the ground floor of the Palazzo Vescovile, now the Museo Diocesano, in Piazza Duomo. It was founded by Marc’Antonio Ceppellini (1814-1892), originally from Piacenza. Caffé Ceppellini was the most chic venue in Pontremoli at the time, and people travelled from far and wide to sample its exquisite cakes and pastries. It was said that the secret of Ceppellini’s pastries was his ability to balance of flavours of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Lunigiana.
This recipe for Canestrello is from the book, Piatti Chiari, by Tiziana Falorni, the owner of Alla Piazza di Sopra in Filleto, and is the eleventh in our series of recipes. If you’d like a copy of the recipe book, it is available directly from the restaurant and in bookshops in Lunigiana. You can also buy it online at Amazon.it and other online booksellers in Italy.
As always, my thanks to talented pastry chef, Laura Razzoli, Tiziana’s daughter, for guidance and photos.
Canestrello of Lunigiana
Ingredients500g farina per dolci or 00 flour 50g melted butter 300g sugar 4 eggs a sachet of Italian lieveto per dolci or 15g baking powder seeds of one vanilla pod grated zest of one lemon a pinch of salt sugar to decorate
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until you have a light fluffy mixture
- Add the flour, vanilla, salt, lemon zest and melted butter.
- Mix well
- Butter a plain ring tin and generously sprinkle with sugar
- Pour the mixture into the tin
- Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 50 minutes.
Ristorante Alla Piazza di SopraPiazza Immacolata 11 Filetto, Villafranca in Lunigiana, MS Telephone 0187 493796/Cell 349 8783364 Email email@example.com Website: www.allapiazzadisopra.com
Open Tuesday to Sundays for lunch and dinner.
Canestrello of Lunigiana appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 28 September 2014.