… or when coming back home in the Sienese countryside gives good results! I always wanted to prepare it, as basically is a vegan cake, but living up here all alone, with an oven that it’s a hyperbole to call it an oven … I had never dared, say. My dad (as all good Sienese people…) is a glutton for it. And, being his birthday the last 30th of August, I’ve decided to cuddle him a bit.

The Pancosanti is a typical Sienese cake, whose origin is reeeeeally old, medieval, I’d say. It’s basically a poor sweet, which was usually prepared during the All Saints days. As the name suggests it’s actually bread dough, with sugar, and strange but true, generous amounts of blackpepper (and this gives it a genuine medieval taste). The other key ingredients are the “saints”: raisins and walnuts. The religious origin of the cake is demonstrated by the cross which is made on its surface before baking it: while making this cross, the housewives used to cross themselves. Being not particularly religious, I didn’t cross myself but I made the cross on Pancosanti anyway 🙂

800 gr of flour (I used wholewheat, but next time I’ll put a quarter of Manitoba, or very strong Canadian flour)
400 ml of warm water
40 gr of yeast (a cube and a half),
1 pinch of salt
100 gr of walnuts
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
200 gr of raisins
100 gr of sugar
black pepper at will (preferably freshly ground)
rosemary and a pinch of cinnamon

It’s a bit long, but more for waiting times. Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Combine it with the flour, with a pinch of salt. Knead it well and allow for it to rise for a hour; as usual, in a warm place far from the air currents. Meanwhile, proceed with the funny part…shell the walnuts. I do not have much patience and with the nutcracker I have a sort of unresolved conflict, so to speak:-P. Anyway, I faced the task with so much calmness that when I was finished the dough was ready…Also, while the dough leavens, put the raisins in a little of warm water (to be counted separately from the given amount). Sauté the walnuts, coarsely chopped, in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (extra virgin olive oil, please, even better if Tuscan with a strong flavour) and a sprig of rosemary. Take the dough and knead it with walnuts, raisins, 100 grams of sugar, cinnamon and pepper. The amount of this is up to, I’d say I put a very generous spoon in it! It combines really well, that’s what makes it special. At the beginning you’ll desperate but then everything will mix perfectly.

Now, let the dough rest for 3 hours. Take the dough, shape it as shown in the pics (with or without a cross, it’s up to you).

I cooked it for 15 minutes at 220°, then for 40 minutes at 200°.

It was excellent! Dad was very happy 🙂
In my opinion is one of those baked goods that, if made with sourdough, they come out better, last more and are also lighter; and certainly, even if you can’t perceive the taste of yeast, they also have a slightly different flavor.
Obviously do not expect a real cake … it’s not a cake … it’s Pancosanti!

  1. Titti 3 September 2010 at 21:39


  2. Mimì 4 September 2010 at 11:35

    dad will have been delighted to receive a gift so special and good 😛

  3. Pizza pie 5 September 2010 at 07:49

    I will do it here, in French country… I hope it will smell good as in Italy 😆

  4. ascanio 8 October 2010 at 19:56

    That’s great! My dad’s from Siena and I know it very well. Seems one of those you buy in the bakeries, should try this

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