History, curiosities and infinite variations of a typical dessert of the Spoleto carnival
Before the flavor I liked the name: crescionda, a term that remains impressed, bombastic and sinuous at the same time, a bit of a fun fair game, a bit of a futurist term, instead it indicates a typical cake of the Spoleto Carnival. How I came across this recipe I don't know, certainly during some of my nocturnal research, and the encounter evoked a memory that remained in a hidden corner of my memory. There was a time when every Sunday my father, who didn't even cook an egg, tried his hand at butter creams and filled two or three-layer cakes with them, soaked with plenty Alchermes. The basics, tall and perfect sponge cake, they came from the hotel institute where my father taught physical education and where his gluttony (surely the two aspects will seem in contradiction) led him to forge not only connections but also friendship with those who taught cooking or pastry techniques including a colleague of Umbrian origin who arrived one day saying: "hold Luciano, I made you a sweet from my land". And so there crescionda arrived home, today I'm sure, I could never forget a name like that. And out of mine onomatopoeic fantasies the meaning is that of "Grows" that is focaccia and "onta" because it was used in the dough old chicken broth, but also olive oil or lard and with these fats the dry bread was soaked by adding the "Schjianci", semi-wild sour apples, eggs and sheep's cheese and honey to sweeten, because it sugar it cost too much. In practice, until the eighteenth century it was a sort of sweet and sour pizza, cooked on the embers of the fireplace if you did not own the oven, made by eye, in two versions, both on the occasion of the Carnival: the "Dorge" or sweet and the "poretta", poor thing with only flour corn, water, eggs and apples. There crescionda modern is the daughter of the nineteenth century when the use of sugar, cocoa and the Mistrà liqueur. Depending on how the ingredients are mixed, the cake changes color and texture, so much so that we can define it as “magical”. But it is only a matter of physics and chemistry. It can be dark if you use cocoa, white with milk and bread, yellow with corn flour. Or it can be of two colors with the macaroons and the milk, the macaroons rise to the surface and the milk remains below or of three colors: amaretti, milk and chocolate. Also changes consistency, if the version is the one that involves separating egg whites and yolks, working these with sugar and whipping the first peaks. Once cooked it will be crunchy on the surface and soft underneath. Because of this specialty, which today is, there are many, indeed many versions so as to feed the Spoleto saying "home that you go crescionda you find ". But what will mine ever be? I just don't remember this.
by Laura Maragliano, portrait by Gian Marco Folcolini, photo of the plate by Francesca Moscheni, in the kitchen Claudia Compagni
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