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A cake for the Befana: the tradition of the Venetian “pinza”


The Befana


The word “befana” comes from the Greek “epiphany” and it means apparition. In the collective imagination the befana is an old woman with a long nose and a sharp chin, who travels at night on a broom. She appears at night on January 6th bringing gifts to all the good children. The night before her arrival they are supposed to leave a sock under the fireplace or in the kitchen that she fills with gifts, but especially candies and sweet coal.

To thank her for her visit as a reward in the past, it was tradition to leave her favorite cake, “the pinza” ready for her on the kitchen table.


The Pinza


This cake is usually prepared during Christmastime, and it is a rustic and substantial sweet, made especially with leftovers.

There are two versions to create this cake related to the use of the basic ingredient: made with soaked bread or with corn. In Venice soaked bread is preferred to corn, and it is mixed and amalgamated with sweet spices, dried fruit, dried figs, apples and raisins and plenty more.

Although the “ pincia” is part of the Venetian tradition, today it is rarely made at home, and it is sold only in some bakeries.

It belongs like all the traditions to the past, which are rediscovered by new generations when someone in the family brings it to life.


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