Pane dei Morti – Bread of the Dead
The light of the Sun fights its way through the thick cloud cover as the early morning fog engulfs the streets, muffling the usual city noise. The clouds are low in the sky, the buildings, streets, and people merge together in a grey hue. Milan has become one great mausoleum. It is the Day of the Dead, sometimes known as All Souls, but for the Italians it is “I Morti.” Italy is a family based society and family is the thing that holds them together over time, weathering the good and the bad. The extended family includes those passed on, remembered throughout the year but even the most skeptical of individuals will visit the cemetery on the Day of the Dead.
Several generations of the family will gather. The tombstones cleaned. The children play while silent tears sneak down the cheeks of those mourning, remembering, loving those no longer near. “Il Nonno che ha costruito l’ospedale,” says a small child pointing to the picture on the marble shrine. The father pulls his child close and carefully tells the story of his father’s life.
It is logical to expect that a culture based on family ties would have a holiday bread associated with the remembrance of those who have come before us. There are many versions of Pane dei Morti throughout Italy. This is the most widely used recipe in Lombardia. Local pastry shops will begin preparing Pane dei Morti during the last two weeks of October through the Epiphany in January.
1/4 lbs. (100 g) Almonds
1 lbs. (450 g) Savoiardi (Lady Fingers) or Amaretti
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (300 g) sugar (brown sugar can also be used)
1/4 lbs (125 g) dried figs diced into small pieces
1/4 lbs (125 g) white raisins soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
1 Package (7 g) active dry yeast
4 Egg Whites
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
Blanch the Almonds in boiling water. Remove the peel and mince.
Drain the Raisins and pat dry with a towel.
Crumb the Savoiardi or Amaretti to a powder and mix with the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the raisins, the figs, the almonds, the sugar, the dry yeast and cinnamon. Mix the ingredients well.
Cakes Available online
Tags: Gourmet Foods Almonds Holiday Breads Italian Holidays Italian Recipes Food and Wine Travel Italy