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…)
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
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.)
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).