The original recipe for Sicilian Lenten biscuits gives us sweets that were formerly made on the island during Lent, but which today are available practically all year round. But what are they in essence, how are they born and how are they prepared?
The origin of Sicilian Lenten biscuits
Lent , it is known, is a period of abstinence and sacrifices, even at the table. How do you explain, then, the preparation of these biscuits during this particular time of the year? It would derive from the ancient custom of the cloistered nuns of the monasteries of Palermo, to increase income through the creation and sale of food preparations.
The nuns, in fact, were skilled pastry chefs, and during the year, to supplement their income, they used to make cakes to sell . The penance imposed by Lent - which did not allow the consumption of meat, milk, eggs and fats of animal origin - seems to have prompted them to make biscuits that did not contain them, and which were therefore permitted and salable in Lent. From there to becoming a popular grandmother's recipe , the step was short.
Lenten biscuits, the Sicilian piparelli
Lentens, known in some Sicilian provinces as piparelli , are sweets made with almonds . They have a crunchy, almost hard consistency, so much so that their ideal consumption sees them soaked in Malvasia or Passito di Pantelleria , as if they were Lenten cantucci , in short.
Quaresimali, the Sicilian recipe to make them at home
- 125 g of 00 flour
- 125 g of semolina flour
- 100 g of sugar
- 80 g of honey
- the tip of a baking soda knife
- grated zest of an orange
- cinnamon to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 100ml of warm water
- 75 g of whole almonds
- 1 pinch of salt
Preparation of Sicilian piparelli
- Pour the honey into a bowl and let it melt in a bain-marie.
- In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar, then add the honey and start mixing with a spoon.
- Add the baking soda, orange zest, cinnamon, salt and black pepper. Then add the almonds .
- Gradually add the warm water until you can work the mixture with your hands.
- Create a loaf and place it in a pan on oven paper.
- Cook it at 180°C for 25 minutes.
- Take it out, immediately cut it into slices and put them back in the oven, this time at 160°C for about 20 minutes.
Soft Lenten cookies
The characteristic of these biscuits lies in their crunchiness which is obtained, precisely, thanks to the double cooking. To prepare soft Lenten biscuits , you can add a pinch of baking powder to the dough, then create balls to flatten with your hands on the pan and cook them at 180 °C for about twenty minutes.