Recipe: Pizza di piazza
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This weekend I’m getting married. So while you read this recipe sitting comfortably on your sofa, I will be having a very hectic time: a special Shabbat dinner at my parents; a Shabbat Chatan at the main synagogue in Rome and, of course, the chuppah on Sunday… all very exciting! The Pizza di Piazza (sometimes called Pizza Romana) is a traditional fruitcake that we prepare in Rome for weddings, barmitzvahs and brits — it is a unique delicacy from the Roman Ghetto. It is sold only at Boccione, a delicious little bakery in the main square (piazza) of the ghetto, hence the name — although it has nothing in common with a normal pizza.
These delicious fruit-cakes are eaten at the mishmara — a traditional Roman Jewish evening of prayers and song (and, of course, food!) which takes place on the Thursday before a wedding. Most people buy Pizza di Piazza already made, but for my wedding, I am baking them with my mother, sister and any other women who wish to help. So if you feel like getting in the festive mood, why not bake your own?
Preparation time: 40 minutes. Makes 15-20 pizzas.
● 80g raisins
● 80g unskinned almonds
● 80g pine nuts
● 80g mix candied fruit/peels in chunks
● 80g margarine
● 100g candied cherries
● 100 ml Marsala or sweet wine
● 150 ml sunflower oil
● 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
● 170g white caster sugar
● 500g white flour
● A pinch of salt
● Preheat the oven to 220˚C.
● Place the raisins, almonds, pine nuts and the chunks of candied fruit and cherries in a bowl together with the Marsala wine.
● TIP: Ideally leave the fruit and nuts to soak for a few hours or overnight for extra taste.
● In a separate bowl mix the flour, the sugar, the vanilla extract, the oil and a pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly, either by hand or with an electric hand mixer. Melt the margarine, add it to the dough and mix well.
● Now add the wine-soaked nuts and candied fruit mixture to the dough.
● Mix thoroughly until you get a floury but homogeneous consistency. If you can’t get this with the electric mixer then work the dough with your bare hands.
● Spread a little flour on a clean surface, cut the dough into 3-4 parts and create with each piece long, chunky rectangular strips.
● Now divide each strip into 5-6 pieces of 5-6 cm long, 4-5 cm wide and 2 cm high.
● Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper, sprinkle on it a little flour and place the fruit cakes on the tray.
● Place in oven and leave to bake for 20 minutes.
● Remove from the oven, leave to cool down and eat at room temperature. These cakes last for several days.
Silvia Nacamulli is running two cookery courses in Italy this summer, one from May 31 to June 5 and one from June 19-22. Proceeds of the second course will go to the Meir Panim charity. Details at www.cookingforthesoul.com