The sweet flavours of the festive season

Tavole imbandite di dolci - Casa Atzeri - Maracalagonis

The sweet flavours of the festive season

It's time for traditional breads and cakes: they warm the crisp winter air, complete the cosy family Christmas atmosphere and fill the heart
Festive breads are precious gifts

The typical breads and cakes prepared in Sardinia for Christmas have always been a symbol of festivities and celebrations, and are richly flavoured jewels, always different from one village to another. In the Logudoro bakeries, su bacchiddu 'e Deu, a stick-shaped bread reminiscent of a bishops' crosier, and sa pertusitta, a flatbread decorated with relief images of shepherds and sheep, are prepared. The taste of sa tunda, a round bread from Oristano, is enriched with walnuts and sultanas. In Ogliastra, there used to be an ancient custom that returns every now and then: gifting loaves of bread in the shape of a heart, a star or a baby. Originally from the Nuoro area, nowadays baked all over the island, is su pani cun gherda, i.e. with pork crackling. There is a cake that was once only for Christmas but is now so good that for decades it has been prepared all year round: torrone di Tonara (nougat). It has no sugar, just a base of honey melted over a low heat in a copper pot and stirred for hours, with the addition of almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts.

Cesto di dolci tradizionali
Forno tradizionale - Gavoi
Pani pintau - Cabras
The tradition of homemade cakes comes to the shops

Amaretti, golden and crunchy 'jewels' of inimitable flavours, are a must when celebrating something special. They are made from a perfect proportion of almonds, sweet and bitter. In northern Sardinia, sapa, or 'vincotto’ (a dark, sweet grape must syrup), is added to the mixture of almonds, egg whites and sugar, common to many autumn and winter sweets, such as pan'e sapa, an ancient example of bread 'transformed' into a cake, widespread in the lower Campidano and Nuoro areas. It is characterised by its long leavening, dark colour and intense flavour of cooked must and cinnamon. It is circular in shape, like a cake. Closely related to All Saints' Day are sos ossus de mottu (dead man's bones). They originated as November cakes but have become 'for all occasions', sos pabassinos, in the centre-north, or is papassinus, in the south. The name derives from papassa, the sultana that embellishes the dough. In their Christmas guise, these biscuits are covered in icing and dusted with silver sprinkles. In the Campidano area, they are flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla or sapa, in the Barbagia and Logudoro areas with citrus peel, fennel seeds, etc.

Pane cicci di Desulo
Pabassinos di Ittiri
Flour, honey, sapa, eggs, almonds: the heart of Sardinian cakes

Sas tiliccas are also autumnal sweets, originally from the centre-north, which are now known everywhere under various names, the most famous of which are the caschettas di Belvì. A very thin crispy sheet of violada pastry (a semolina pastry enriched with lard) holds a filling of almonds and honey (or sapa), with orange zest and saffron. The shapes vary: horseshoe, heart, spiral or letters. In Dorgali and Mamoiada they are prepared for the Feast of Sant’Antonio, together with another delicacy: su pistiddu, with a sapa filling also typical of copulettas, small sweets from Ittireddu and Ozieri, with their characteristic flower or half-moon shape. They are prepared for weddings and christenings and the initials of the bride and groom or the baptised child are engraved on them. In Oristano, the desserts par excellence are is mustazzolus, rhombus-shaped mostaccioli cookies, very soft, with the aroma of cinnamon and lemon, covered in icing. They are perhaps the oldest Sardinian biscuit.

Preparazione di dolci tipici - Casa Atzeri - Maracalagonis