In Trieste, while the Sicilian relatives were eating their celebratory desserts at Easter, we were either eating presniz or gubana (also called putiza) – both are made with similar pastry (gubana has yeast) and fillings containing different amounts of a mixture of nuts, sultanas, peel and chocolate. A little grappa or a little rum always helps.
The presniz or gubana are then placed into a round baking tin and coiled inside the tin so that when baked, the sides will join up and form a round shape when removed from the tin.
The preparation of gubana requires several steps in order to allow a sourdough to develop using very little yeast.Pastry with yeast:
500 g flour 00 20 g of yeast 2 cups milk 130 g sugar 100 g butter 1 lemon, peel 1 egg yolk to complete butter for the plate 3 eggs salt FOR THE FILLING: 150 g raisins, 60 g Mixture: candied citron, candied orange, prunes, dried figs 150 g of walnuts 60 g of pine nuts 60 g almonds 100 g of dark chocolate 1 glass of grappa or brandy 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs 30 g butter 2 eggs grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon Heat 4 tablespoons of milk and when it is warm, add the yeast and let it bubble. Mix 100 g of flour with a teaspoon of sugar and the yeast dissolved in milk. Cover and allow to rise. When it has doubled in volume, add the remaining flour and remaining sugar, eggs, softened butter, a pinch of salt, grated lemon peel and milk. Work this into a dough. Allow to rest 24 hours.
Prepare the filling:Soak the walnuts and almonds in boiling water, remove their skins and chop them finely. Soak the raisins in alcohol for a couple of hours. Add the rest of the fruit cut into small piece sand soak for another hour. Add grated chocolate peel and pine nuts. Add 1 beaten egg (beaten with a fork) and soft or melted butter . Roll out the dough on a towel in a thin rectangular shape (about 5 mm thick). Fry the breadcrumbs in a little butter and when cool spread them over the dough.
Cover with the filling and leave a boarder around the edge (2 cm) . Roll it up on itself, in the shape of a coiled snake. Arrange on baking paper or buttered and floured baking tray. Brush the surface with 1 beaten egg yolk, sprinkle with a little sugar and bake in a preheated oven at 190 ° C for about 45 minutes. Serve luke warm or cold (it cuts better and it is usually made well in advance of being eaten).
All you need to do is look at a map of Italy to understand why much of the cuisine in Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), is influenced by Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslav traditions.
The apple strudel that is celebrated throughout the year and is a standard dessert in the kitchens of Triestini, has yet again a variation of the pastry, some of the nuts, peel and chocolate, but also raw apple. My mother always used the delicious apples because they were the sweetest. In all three desserts, the pastry is rolled around the filling. See Strucolo de Pomi
One year I went to Sicily for Easter and brought a presniz for the Sicilian relatives to try. I had gone to considerable trouble, buying it from what was considered to be the best pastry shop in Trieste and handling it carefully so that it would not be damaged while travelling.
There was no enthusiasm when I put it on the table, most of the relatives were too full to try it (it was presented with coffee and liqueurs after the big Sicilian Easter lunch after all), and those who did try the presniz did not express any great enthusiasm.
Tradition and only Sicilian food is everything for most Sicilians and I could probably say the same about any other region in Italy.
The traditional desserts for Easter in most of Sicily are made with ricotta. Many have cassata, made with sponge cake, ricotta, chocolate and candied peel, others, like the Ragusani have cassatedde, small, baked ricotta filled tarts made with short pastry (cassatedde can be different shaped ricotta filled pastries in various parts of Sicily – some versions are smaller adaptations of cassata, some cassatedde are fried instead of baked). Very different, quite delicious and perhaps as interesting as presniz and gubana.
2 thoughts on “PRESNIZ and GUBANA (Easter cakes in Trieste)”
I loved your Easter story. I have an Umbrian cookbook which has some Easter recipes, similar to the Trieste ones you describe. These treats make a lovely change from the traditional Australian Easter fare, and my friends have always commented favourably!
Los sicilianos no saben lo que se pierden al no probar el Presniz.