Friday 29 January 2016

Torcolo di San Costanzo

The 29th January is the feast day of San Costanzo, one of the Patron Saints of Perugia in Umbria, Italy.

Costanzo is believed to have been the first Bishop of Perugia and was martyred by decapitation in about 170 AD. He was only about 30 years old.

He appears in art wearing a mitre and carrying a crozier. Il Perugino included San Costanzo in his painting 'Virgin and Child with Saints'  - 1495. This painting is in the Vatican.

Every year the Feast of San Costanzo is celebrated with a festival and a traditional cake called a Torcolo di San Costanzo. This ring shaped sweet bread has citron, raisins, pine nuts and anise seeds in it. It is formed into a ring to represent a crown of jewels or garland of flowers - either representative of the beheading.

Five diagonal cuts in the surface represent the five gates of Perugia.

Having discovered this delicious bread in Tavernelle last August (yes, you can buy it all year round now!), I tried to make one myself, with not a lot of success. It tasted fine but looked awful!

So with a new recipe and a lot of Google researching, I have tried again to produce a good Torcolo di San Costanzo. This is a very lengthy process; it took about six hours to make, with three proving sessions.

There was kneading ...

and rising,

mixing and kneading, and kneading and kneading ...

and more rising.

Then there was rolling and shaping and more rising.

Then it was time to bake.

But the best part was in the eating.

Salute a San Costanzo!