The history of Perugia all in a typical Easter cake: ciaramicola

Photo from above of ciaramicola, a typical Easter cake baked in Perugia. It has the shape of a donut with a central hole, covered with white icing similar to a meringue with coloured sprinkles.

Ciaramicola is one of the typical Easter cakes in Umbria, in particular in the city of Perugia. Through its shape and colours, ciaramicola encloses the Umbrian pastry tradition and tells its story. And it is precisely its history, taste and tradition that have led the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to recognise the ciaramicola as a Traditional Food Product (PAT).

The history of ciaramicola of Perugia

The ciaramicola of Perugia has always been the typical Easter cake and, in ancient times, it was offered by women to their future husbands. In Gubbio, on the other hand, it is a cake associated to the celebration of Saint Ubaldo, the patron Saint of the city celebrated on the 15 May, to recall the act of devotion of the citizens to the Bishop Saint Ubaldo Baldassini after his death in 1160.
However, according to the tradition, ciaramicola is a cake typical from Perugia: the round shape with a central cross represents the shape of the city the cross at the centre, hence the Church. The red colour of the cake, given by the Alchermes liqueur, and the white of the meringue decoration on top represent the colours of Perugia, while the coloured sprinkles represent its five districts. Red like the district of Porta S. Angelo – said Emanuela C., one of the most well-known pastry chefs of Perugia – through whose door gate came the wood for the fires. White like the district of Porta Sole, where the star reflected among the marble and the travertine of Terra Vecchia. Blue like the district of Porta Susanna, whose door leads to the blue of the Perugian lake along the Via Trasimena (Trasimena road). Green like the district of Porta Eburnea stretching towards forests and vineyards that filled the overlooking valley. Yellow – she concluded – like the district of Porta S. Pietro through whose entrance door came the yellow wheat, main food on every table.

One of the many variants of the recipe for this Easter cake

There is no single recipe for ciaramicola, but every bakery, every citizen of Perugia who makes it at home, preserves its own recipe with a few small variations. SecretUmbria proposes one of the many variations: 500 gr flour, 200 gr sugar, 150 gr butter, 4 eggs, 1 packet of yeast, 100 gr Alchermes, 1 lemon zest. Mix 3 whole eggs and 1 yolk with the sugar; add butter, Alchermes, lemon peel and flour. Place the mixture in a baking tray with a whole in the middle and bake at 175 degrees.
For the icing: 2 egg whites, 200 gr powdered sugar, coloured sprinkles. Add the sugar to the egg whites and whisk all until obtaining a frothy and stiff snow. Spread the icing over the baked cake and add the coloured sprinkles on the top of the still fresh icing. Bake in a static oven at 50 degrees and check that the icing solidifies.

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