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Apulian Cooking
An alternative to panettone and purceddhruzzi
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without pastries, but we find that nearly all our lunches and dinners end with the same traditional sweets. They are delicious but for those who feel like something different our gastronomy expert suggests a range of cakes from some of the best pastry shops in Lecce. Enjoy the choice! by Dario Ersetti
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Franchini’s ring-cake, filled with chestnut custard and decorated with fresh fruit and candied chestnuts, 
is a revisitation of his classic “Dolce della Comare”. Photo by Dario Ersetti

Apulian pastries can be considered descendents of the Sicilian and Neapolitan traditions. We are talking about haute patisserie, which in the past was reserved for the aristocracy.

This month we have chosen some pastries from Lecce, which though innovative, and in some cases exclusive creations, embody the spirit of the sweets of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The typical ingredients, mainly almonds and pistachios, which reflect the flavors of that period, are chosen with the utmost care and combined together in perfect proportions.

Let’s start with Natale pastry shop, in via Trinchese. There’s pear and gianduia tart, called a flan but it’s actually a torta pasticciotto with classic confectioner’s custard and black cherries without the covering of short pastry; Mikado, a tart filled with almond custard, julienned apple, walnuts and pine-nuts; Paradiso, a special Christmas treat of their own creation, is a low panettone with layers of chocolate drops, chantilly custard and tiny cubes of pistachio-flavored almond paste, covered with a fine layer of pistachio-flavored almond paste; the traditional Neapolitan pastiera made of short pastry, ricotta and wheat grains; Sicilia, an almond and pistachio custard tart; the torta pasticciotto, inspired by the pasticciotto, Lecce’s typical small pastry of leavened pastry dough and pastry cream with black cherries in syrup.

CinCin Bar, in St. Oronzo square, has a cake made of pistachio-flavored chantilly custard and sponge, covered with a layer of pistachio flavored almond paste, created by Luca Capilungo in his pastry kitchen in via Bari.

The master pastry chef Franchini, in via San Lazzaro, to celebrate his shop’s fiftieth year of activity, offers a ring-cake filled with chestnut custard and two cakes dedicated to children. The ring-cake is a revisitation of Franchini’s classic Dolce della Comare, decorated with fresh fruit and candied chestnuts.

Then there is Davide of Syrbar (via Libertini/piazza Duomo) who continues his family tradition of “home-made” cakes with the classic torta pasticciotto’ (but without black cherries) and with an apple pie with walnuts, sultanas and apricot jelly.

Finally, as a curiosity, there’s the olive panettone, an experiment carried out by a bakery in Grottaglie, Premiata Forneria Lenti, in an attempt to “Apulianise” the typical Milanese pastry by combining it with olives.

As well as the olives and the color they give the cake, in the slice pictured you can see the vertical “eyes” typical of natural leavening using the so called mother yeast.

The choice is up to you!

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