Pan Ducale

Calanchi di Atri

When we told Lucia of the B&B we stayed at in Roseto degli Abruzzi that we were going to visit the Calanchi di Atri, a beautiful landscape close to the town of Atri, she advised me to also check out the local delicacy called pan ducale. And so we looked for a pastry shop in Atri and asked about it.

There we found out that pan ducale is nowadays made in a factory in the town, and it seems that this factory has the ‘copyright’ on this cake as we didn’t find a pastry shop that sold it freshly made. There is nothing wrong with the store-bought pan ducale, except that it is a bit dry because it isn’t freshly baked. On the package it is advised to pour a few drops of amaretto liqueur over the pan ducale to enhance the flavor and ‘goodness’ and that also helps to make it less dry. An even better way is to bake your own and eat it fresh!

Pan ducale means “duke’s bread”. According to the package: “The dynasty of Acquaviva was one of the most prestigious of the Abruzzo region and for nearly 500 years the city of Atri was the seat of this duchy within the kingdom of Naples. Duke Giosia of Acquaviva, noted connoisseur of fine gourmet foods, was so impressed with this cake, presented to him in 1352 AD, that he demanded it be served at his table every day. Thereafter this cake became most famously known as the ‘Pan Ducale cake’.” The 0riginal recipe from 1352 of eggs, sugar, flour, almonds and candied citron was later enriched with dark chocolate. Here’s how to make your own and feel like a duke! (Omit the chocolate to feel like a medieval duke…)


6 eggs, separated

250 grams (1 1/4 cups) sugar

200 grams (1 1/4 cups) flour

100 grams (2/3 cup) almonds (skin on)

100 grams (1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips

50 grams (1/4 cup) candied citron

grated zest of 1 large (or 2 small) orange

1 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

16 grams (about 1 Tbsp) baking powder

butter and flour for buttering and flouring the pan


Toast the almonds for 8 minutes at 160ºC/320ºF (fan forced) and allow them to cool.

Separate the eggs. I tried the trick with the plastic bottle, but wasn’t impressed (it only works if your eggs are VERY fresh, otherwise the yolk will break too easily).

Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on high speed until creamy and pale yellow, a couple of minutes.

Add the grated orange zest.

Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, reserving about 1 tablespoon of flour.

Mix until the batter is homogeneous. It will be quite stiff.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.

Chop the almonds.

Combine the almonds, candied citron, and chocolate chips with the reserved tablespoon of flour. Stir to mix and to coat everything with the flour.

Add the almonds, candied citron, and chocolate chips mixture to the dough. Mix with a wooden spoon (it will be too stiff to use the stand mixer). (To make this part easier, you could stir in a bit of the beaten egg whites to loosen up the batter before mixing in the almonds etc.)

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter in three additions, working from below with a spatula.

Try to keep as much air in the batter as possible.

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF (fan forced). Butter and flour a 30 cm (12″) rectangular pan and pour in the prepared batter.

Flatten the top of the batter with a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes at 160ºC/320ºF (fan forced).

Test with a skewer in the center whether your pan ducale is cooked through.

Allow to cool to room temperature.


Wine pairing

This is great with vin santo, and just like cantuccini pieces of pan ducale can be dipped into the wine. A glass of amaretto on the rocks would also work as an alternative for wine.


A stovetop smoker is a great tool to have. It allows you to turn a piece of salmon fillet into wonderful hot-smoked salmon in only 20 minutes without any effort or skill. It is best to use outdoors because of the fumes. We love to take it on our boat and surprise our guests with smoked seafood (very appropriate on a boat).

21 thoughts on “Pan Ducale

    1. They didn’t actually say there was a patent, I just assumed. It could also be that they can’t compete with the factory in terms of price, and don’t bother? Oh well, we can bake our own!


  1. The box alone looks lovely! I recently made a very similar loaf shaped cake (from a Patricia Lousada book) called Bishop’s Bread. She thought it originated from Austria, from a lady called Mrs Schwartz. Very similar, with citrus peel, nuts and chocolate except the batter contained butter. It’s fabulous how these recipes move around the globe.

    I’m with you on the hot smoked salmon – a favourite use of my smoker is hot smoked red peppers served with home made labne a scattering of thyme leaves and drizzle of olive oil plus some char grilled sourdough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Stefan! That’s some countryside! How strikingly beautiful!
    The Pan Ducale looks like a cross between a cookie and a cake. Glad you didn’t let a silly little thing like a copyright prevent you from finding and preparing the recipe. ::)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Italian family brings this gem of a cake over from time to time: it is never big enough. From their story, it is second to Pan del Papa, but I would not know that, never had that one. All I can tell, is that the factory made one is divine, and if lucky enough to have some Vin Santo, the cake is just right. Or maybe some good Porto…
    Thanks for the recipe, I’m rolling my sleeves, to work I go!


  4. Stefan, Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe and video. I have mine in the oven now. I have followed your recipe and technique to the letter. I am expecting wonderful Pan ducal!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The scent is divine! I made an alteration or two. Because of the altitude of the southern US, I baked at 350F for 1 hour. I would love to add a picture, but cannot.

    Liked by 1 person

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