At the bottom find a recipe for Torcolo, the sweet bread to celebrate the patron saint of Perugia San Costanzo.
- 600 grams flour bread flour/strong flour
- 330 grams warm water
- 15 grams fresh yeast or 12 dry yeast
- 160 grams sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 150 grams candied citrus ideally citron
- 75 grams olive oil extra virgin
- 75 grams butter room temperature
- 150 grams raisins soak to stop from burning
- 100 grams pine nuts use less if to expensive
- 10 grams anise seeds
- 1 egg yolk for burshing on top
- Begin by sifting the flour. Add the yeast to the warm water and leave for a few minutes. Pour the water and yeast mixture into the flour.
- Mix together. Kneed for 3 minutes in a mixer or 5 by hand
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover to protect in from any draughts. Leave it in a warm place until it has doubled, about an hour.
- Leave the dough in the bowl and add the sugar, salt, butter, oil, citrus, raisins, pine nuts, and anise seeds. Kneed to combine and let rise for another hour.
- It will probably need more flour add. I end up adding about 1/2 cup more before kneading.
- On a floured surface shape into a ring. Use a soup bowl to keep it from closing.I use a metal ring that can go into the oven to keep the hole from closing up.
- Turn the oven on to 350 F or 180 C. Let the dough rise while the oven warms up.
- Brush the egg yolk on top of the Torcolo. Make 5 slashes for the 5 gates of Perugia.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
I bake to relax. I like to try new recipes, techniques and flavours whenever I can.
In Italy it’s easy to find new recipes, every town has their own specialty. A pasta, a pasta sauce and always sweets. Occasionally these different dishes are for special occasions.
One occasion all towns in Italy celebrate, even the smallest town, is the day of their patron saint. Each saint has his or her own day throughout the year.
The city or town celebrates this day with a holiday, when government offices and schools shut, and even most businesses.
Italy has two patron saints, one from Umbria, Saint Francis of Assisi, and the other is from nearby Siena in Tuscany, Saint Catherine. But Perugia has three patron saints.
Perugia’s Patron Saint: Saint Costanzo
One of the three patron saints of Perugia is San Costanzo. His day of celebration is on January 29th. The other two saints are San Lorenzo and Sant’Ercolano.
He became the first Bishop of Perugia at the age of 30 and he died in 170 AD by decapitation near Foligno. He is known for being evangelistic and for taking care of the poor.
There are many stories of him being arrested for promoting Christianity. One story tells of him being forced into an oven with his companions, whom he had converted, but they all escaped unharmed.
The Church of San Costanzo in the center of Perugia houses his tomb. The church was first built in 1205 but has been rebuilt several times. The latest was in 1889 and it was in a Romanesque style. For decoration, terracotta is used from a kiln in Perugia called Biscarini.
If you visit this church take a look at the moulding around the front entrance of the church. With carved animals and vines, this moulding is from the original 13th century church.
San Costanzo was a favorite subject of Perugino, Perugia’s most famous painter. You can find many images of Costanzo in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria by Perugino and others.
Il Torcolo: A Recipe from Perugia
While I love
The Torcolo was a poor man’s dessert. But nowadays I don’t think it can be considered that, 150 grams of pine nuts will cost you 10 euros.
Perfect for breakfast, it is in the shape of a ring and rather dense. An important element to add are the slashes making a 5 point star symbolizing the 5 gates of Perugia.
The cake is most popular around the celebration San Costanzo, January 29th. But it is a typical cake/bread only found in Perugia so most bakeries produce it all year round.
The Recipe for Torcolo
600 grams or 3 ½ cups of flour
330 grams or 1 ½ cups of luke warm water
14 grams of yeast
160 grams or ¾ cups of sugar
150 grams or 1 cup of candied citron
75 grams or ⅓ cup of olive oil
75 grams or ⅓ cup of soft or melted butter
150 grams or 1 cup of raisins/sultanas
170 grams or around a cup of pine nuts
One egg yolk for brushing on top
20 grams Anise seeds or to taste
A pinch of salt
How to bake Torcolo
1. Begin by sifting the flour. Add the yeast to the warm water and leave for a few minutes. Pour the water and yeast mixture into the flour.
2. Mix together and knead the dough. 3 minutes in a mixer or 5 minutes by hand.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover to protect in from any draughts. Leave it in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about an hour.
4. With the dough still in the bowl add the sugar, salt, butter, oil, citrus, raisins, pine nuts and anise seeds. Mix well and knead slightly to combine the ingredients. Leave for another hour.
5. On a floured surface shape into a ring on the baking sheet using a bowl in the center to stop it from closing up.
6. Once ready turn the oven on to 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit.
7. Leave covered in a warm spot.
8. Brush the egg yolk onto the top of the Torcolo and make the 5 slashes for the gates of Perugia.
9. Bake for around 45 minutes.
*The candied citron is called Cedro in Italian. It is a type of citrus fruit which similar to a lemon but far bumpier. Grown in southern Italy it is normally used when it hasn’t fully ripened and is still green.
*So the raisins don’t burn it’s good to soak them before adding them to the dough.
*Pine nuts are expensive, I’ve been known to only put in half.
While we don’t take the day off from work, we have Torcolo for breakfast and as a snack throughout the day.
Please make this recipe for Torcolo and enjoy it any time of the year.