Christmas Zelten Cake from Italy

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When it comes to Christmas, Italy has a lot to offer and every single region is capable of bringing different food to the table. If the panettone and the pandoro are the Christmas cakes everyone has, there is a huge amount of traditional and local recipes you only know if you’re from that particular area. One of this recipe is the zelten, a typical recipe from the Trentino Alto Adige area which is typically “christmassy” and it makes you really feel in a fairytale.

The zelten looks like a bread full of raisins, sultanas and flavors and it’s great eaten together with a cup of cinnamon tea; every area in the Trentino Alto Adige region has its own recipe but the ingredients are, more or less, the same. It’s usually baked in a round tin but also a loaf pan tin makes its job perfectly.

What do you need for a zelten of about 20-22cm
200 grams of flour
150 grams of sugar
67 grams ofbaking powder
100 grams unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup brandy (in Italy we use the grappa, you can also use plain vodka)
100 grams of dried figs
200 grams of nuts and pine nuts
100 grams mixed candied fruit
100 grams raisins

How to make the zelten
1. Put the raisins in a bowl of water and, after 40 minutes, drain and squeeze them very well and put in a bowl with the the candied fruits, the figs, the nuts and the pine nuts all shredded.
2. Cover the whole candied fruit with the brandy and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
3. Beat the butter and the sugar until you get a frothy cream then add 2 eggs, stirring constantly, and also incorporate the flour and the baking powder. Mix everything well and add the milk continuing stirring until solids and liquids are not well blended and there are no lumps.
4. Add the fruit together with the remaining brandy mixing everything bottom up to prevent the fruit does not penetrate well into the dough.
5. Grease a cake pan or a loaf pan (20-22cm) and pour the dough. Beat the pan to level the surface of the cake and brush the surface with the beaten egg. Put to rest and in the meantime turn the oven to 200°.
6. When the oven is hot bake the zelten at 180° for at least 50 minutes checking with a noodle or a toothpick that the center is dry and the cake is cooked. When cooked put it out of the oven and let it cool in the pan then transfer it to a serving dish and serve as it is or with the addition of sugar.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Result: the zelten is not over sweet and it is the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea but it’s also great if eaten alone, maybe smeared with jam!

Note: you can prepare the gluten free version using the corn flour instead of the white one. The zelten should be consumed in any case no later than 2-3 days after cooking, after having stored in a tin or a cake-stand.

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Categories: Christmas recipes, Traditional Italian recipes
Article written by Veruska Anconitano aka La Cuochina Sopraffina


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