Sicilian Style Panettone And Pandoro

Although panettone and pandoro, Italian Christmas breads/cakes, originated in northern Italy, there are some outstanding ones made in Sicily: Specifically in Castelbuono (Palermo province) in the Madonie mountains and in Belpasso (Catania province) at the southern foot of Mount Etna. I can’t wait to open my panettone from Castelbuono (and heat it in the oven)…

Sicilian Christmas Cookies

Pastries made with filling of chopped dried figs, pumpkin jam, honey, raisins, almonds, orange rind, cinnamon, and Marsala wine are closely associated with Christmas in Sicily. There is a larger, round, cake-like pastry called buccellato, which is also made in an elaborate cookie-sized version known as buccellati. Meanwhile, cuccidati, pictured here, are their sister. They…

Sicilian Christmas Cookies

Oh, right about now, I want one of Maria and Angelo’s buccellati cookies, like this one I photographed in September when our Experience Sicily group visited their bakery in the mountain village north of Agrigento, Sant’Angelo Muxaro. Buccellati are very closely associated with Christmas in Sicily. They are pastries often stuffed with chopped dried figs,…

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a Zampogna Player

Nativity scenes (presepe or presepio) in Sicily and Southern Italy don’t just illustrate the Holy Family, they also show the folk traditions of the people in the region. For example, at the presepe in Sant’Elia that Experience Sicily’s Filippo Buttitta photographed last week, the life-sized figures include this zampogna, or bagpipe player. Zampogne (plural for…

I Can’t Figgettabout Buccellato

These beautifully sculpted cookies are called buccellato (single pastry/cookie) or buccellati (plural). Buccellati are very closely associated with Christmas in Sicily. They are pastries stuffed with dried figs and raisins or chopped almonds and chocolate. These pictured, from Maria Grammatico Pasticceria in Erice, are of the fig variety. I don’t know Maria Grammatico’s recipe exactly,…

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Buon Natale! Mother and child, Maria S.S. di Conadomini, Patron Saint of Caltagirone also known as “Our Lady of the Bread” in recognition of her protection of farmers and their crops. May peace be with you, your family, and loved-ones this Christmas!

Christmas Cuccidati

Cuccidati, pictured here, are another version of “buccellato.” Cuccidati are stuffed with the same dried fig filling as buccellato, yet they are presented in a smaller, cookie form–some more elaborately decorated than others. The fig filling is still some variation of chopped dried figs, pumpkin jam, honey, raisins, almonds, orange rind, cinnamon, and Marsala wine–and…

Oh, Bring Us Some Buccellato

During the month of December, especially in the mountain town of Caccamo in the province of Palermo, professional and home bakers prepare buccellato and other confections in celebration of Christmas. Buccellato is realized as a wreath-shaped cake or as pastries stuffed with dried figs and raisins or chopped almonds and chocolate. These buccellati pictured contain…