Pinza form Treviso, the norther-east Italian Santa Claus cake

Pinza trevigiana

It’s frequently mispronounced as “pizza” but behind this sweet recipe there is a whole different tradition: welcome to the Pinza world! Pinza is a sweet cake prepared and eaten in the north-east of Italy right at the end of the Christmas Holidays and the first weeks of January and, if you look at it, it looks like a pudding tile. In fact it is prepared and cooked into large rectangular trays and then cut into small delicious cubes in which, at every bite, you can taste a lot of different tastes and textures: apples, dried figs, raisins and pine nuts.

The old traditions

This traditional sweet is usually eaten right at the end of the Christmas Holidays and in particular during the so-called “Panevin”. During this event, in every city, the locals build a big bonfire, made of old wooden furnitures and thatch, that represents the old year and, depending on the direction of the smoke coming from the bonfire, the superstitious ones decide if it is going to be a lucky or an unlucky yearIn the past, and in some villages still today, the priest is invited to the event and he throws some holy water into the fire to dispel the evil. After setting the bonfire, an old disguised woman called “Vecia” brings small presents and sweets to all the children in town like a sort of Santa Claus (this tradition is much older than the Santa Claus one). After the bonfire families reunite and eat pinza together and while the children open the small presents and sweets given by the “vecia”, the older ones tell stories about the old year and celebrate the new one. 


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Pinza variations

If you visit some bakeries in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia from the end of December and the firsts weeks of January you will notice that there are a thousand different recipes of the pinza, this because it is a traditional dish that was made by grandmas with the ingredients that they could afford. So you must be wondering how to recognize a Pinza from Treviso, here’s a tip: if the pinza is well rose it is probably coming from the cities on the left side of the river Piave, on the other side, in the area of Treviso and Silea, you will find a sweet with more dried figs, raisin and nuts instead. 


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Here’s the recipe to have while spending time with your family during Christmas Holidays


  • 400 gr mais flour
  • 500 gr stale bread
  • 1,5 l milk
  • 125 gr butter
  • 170 gr sugar
  • 16 gr baking powder
  • 150 gr nuts
  • 250 gr raisin soaked into rum or marsala
  • 100 gr diced dried figs
  • 100 gr pine nuts
  • 3 yellow apples diced into small cubes
  • q.s. fennel seeds
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 egg and 2 yolks
  • a pinch of salt

Soak the stale bread, diced into small cubes, into half of the milk, then add the mais flour, the rest of boiling milk and the melted butter. Once well mixed, gradually add the sugar and all the remaining ingredients until you get a nice and smooth dough. Put in a baking tray, that you must previously butter, the dough and cook it in a preheated oven for 1 hour at 180°C


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Cover photo from Youtube