In Veneto, there is a traditional cheerful Christmas tart made out of almonds: the Fregolotta.
The name comes from “fregola” that in the Venetian dialect means “crumb”. This delicious crumbly almonds tart comes from the city of Treviso.
You can also find the same cake with different names like “Sbrisolona” in Mantova or “Rosegota“. The main ingredient is almonds, which figuratively represents the light, the rebirth.
In Veneto, the origin of this dessert goes back to religious holidays and traditions. Some treats were invented by the nobles – like the Pandoro -, while others come from the poorer families. Most of the times, the long-lasting traditions come from simple and everyday ingredients that people could harvest from the land they cultivated.
That is the reason why most of the families prepare treats and cakes combined with a glass of grappa (alcoholic beverage, spirit) or, in special occasions, with a sweet cream.
In the original tradition, this cheerful almonds tart called Fregolotta required only corn flour, lard instead of butter, and cheaper hazelnuts instead of expensive almonds.
This delicious Cheerful Almonds Tart comes in crumbs. The tradition says that you should bring the cake to the table and break it with your hands. Because of its friability, it is impossible to cut the Fregolotta regularly with a knife. Then you eat it in crumbs, as its name says in “fregole“. It represents the family bond, where you share the food and you take it from the same plate.
Moreover, you can taste the crumbs with grappa, straw wine or Moscato wine. The tradition wants you to dunk the crumbly almonds tart for a few seconds in the liquor to get the most taste from it.
- 1 2/3 cups almonds
- 1 3/4 cups corn flour (fine nor coarse)
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs yolks
- 1/2 lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 150 F
- Blanch hard of the almonds and remove the skins. Let them dry on a baking pan for a few minutes in the oven.
- Grind the almonds, both the peeled ones and the others (you can save a few while almonds for decoration).
- Mix with your hands and quickly the flours, with butter, the almonds, and the 1/2 lemon grated zest.
- Add 1 cup of sugar and the eggs yolks. You should obtain a crumbled dough.
- Butter and dust a baking pan or single-serving cups and cover with the dough, press gently with a spoon.
- Dust with the remaining sugar and add the whole almonds if you want for decoration.
- Bake in the over for 25′-35′ (the right time depends on the pan you chose)
- Cool down, and serve...or give them ad a perfect Christmas gift!
The story behind the Fregolotta
The Fregolotta appeared for the first time in a restaurant, Trattoria “Zizzola” in Castelfranco (Treviso). In 1924, Mr. Angelo Zizzola opened his restaurant offering his own bread baked in a wood fire oven. The restaurant became famous also thanks to Mr. Zizzola’s sister, Evelina, who learned the recipe for this almonds tart from a friend, who used to work for a noble family.
It looks like Evelina baked the almonds tart for the restaurant clients, but the cake was so well appreciated that they ultimately decided to open a pastry lab to produce the Almonds Tart in larger quantity. The Fregolotta tradition was born!
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