Learn how to bake this sweet “San Biagio” treat from Abruzzo
The worship of San Biagio (St. Blaise in English) is strong here in Abruzzo. He is venerated at Castiglione a Casauria and is the protector of the throat.
Every late January this rhyme echoes in my mind. My grandparents would sing it to me as we sat around the fire in the cold January afternoon, as if to chase the winter away:
“Ai 2 è Candelora ai 3 Sant Biagiolo”
I remember looking forward with joy to those days of worship and tradition.
It’s true that our grandparents kept a very particular calendar, because every day of the year was tied to a particular saint with their own history and tradition which everyone respected.
Each saint was related to the work in the fields, the dishes that were cooked and other traditions.
On the morning of February 2nd we all went to Mass and were given a candle which had been blessed by the parish priest, which we all then took home and guarded closely. Indeed, if for health reasons it wasn’t possible to go to Mass, friends were asked to bring an extra candle home because the candle also brought with it purity and the blessing of the Mass.
The candle of Santa Candelora was hung behind the door or kept in the bedroom for an entire year, to then be lit only when it was to be replaced the following year.
On the evening of February 2nd, while the children slept, the mothers kneaded the dough for the ‘Ciambelle di San Biagio’. They needed to rise and to be baked in the village oven in the early morning, then everyone went to Mass with a basket of ciambelle.
In addition to the ritual oil which was used to bless the throat, the ciambelle were also blessed.
Back home they were shared with people in the neighborhood who didn’t have any.
Those who didn’t have eggs or sugar simply made them with normal bread dough and seeds of anise to give them a little flavor.
Those who could, made their ciambelle with these ingredients:
- 500 grammes of type ‘00’ flour
- 100 grammes of sugar
- 3 eggs
- Brewer's yeast
- A small glass of vegetable oil
- A small glass of milk
- Knead the dough and then let it rise for about 1 hour.
- Roll the dough into little sausages and then shape them into little rings
- The bottom of the ‘ciambelle’ should be coated with flour before putting on the plate to stop them from sticking, or you can put baking paper directly onto the pan.
- Once in the pan, the ring shapes are brushed with a syrup of sugar and water and allowed to rise again for about 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees (400 degrees Fahrenheit)
Once we had baked our ‘ciambelle’ they were soaked in the Muscat wine that my grandfather kept specially or we ate them in the morning dunked into milk.
Wishing you all a good San Biagio!