The rich spice from the Far East and the flavors of the Italian tradition meet in the perfect Christmas cake.
Panpepato, or pampepato, (in Italian ‘peppered bread‘) is one of the many Italian fruitcakes made in winter. This round-shaped dessert, a type of panforte uasually containing real pepper, is typical of Ferrara and Terni and other areas of central Italy.
The recipe of the ‘Panpepato Ternano‘ dates back to the 16th century.
When caravans brought the spices to Italy from the Far East. These married well with the local tradition of preparing so-called ‘enriched loaves’ during the Christmas holidays. In fact, rural families could afford these very expensive ingredients, especially spices, only on special occasions. One of these ingredients is still difficult to find today, the cooked must. Only in Terni, it is bottled specifically for the preparation of panpepato.
Panpepato’s recipe lists many ingredients including almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, candied orange and cedar, and raisins. They are mixed together with or without cocoa, coffee, liqueur, honey, flour, and cooked must.
Traditionally, for Christmas, families bake (preferably in a wood oven) their panpepato and swap it with a spring of mistletoe. There are countless variations and each family has a slightly different one.
In the video below our favorite one, a delicious variation with Loacker wafers, a union that does not distinct flavor identities but opens up new horizons of an unexpected taste. Loacker wafers and panpepato are undoubtedly a winning combination, two of the most authentic and representative ambassadors of a traditional Italian dessert.
Ilona Catani Scarlett