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Meadow cookies, history and recipe of Tuscan cantucci

Among the typical Tuscan sweets stand out the cookies of Prato: myth, tradition and success in the world

In addition to being celebrated for the production of fabrics,for which Prato is famous all over the world, the city finds its most natural expression inconfectionery art for which it stands out nationally. In fact, the center and its hinterland boast over 60 high-quality bakeries, where citizens and tourists love to enjoy their daily breakfast. Among the most popular Tuscan desserts are however the delicious Prato cookies.

The myth of Prato's biscuits

Prato is the second largest city in Tuscany and offers many culinary specialties,but one in particular that makes it excel is that of biscuits and their preparation with traditional recipes handed down through generations. Prato cookies are often referred to simply by the name of "biscuits", and the word comes from Latin meaning "twice cooked". The recipe goes back a long time: the first is said to be centuries old; in fact, the Romans, for example, were attracted to these sweet delights, and often provided them to legionnaires as they could be preserved for a long time.

The recipe of Tuscan cantucci

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • grated zest of an orange (or a lemon, if we're not in orange season)
  • 50g butter, melted and cold
  • half a sachet of yeast
  • half a teaspoon of baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 300g flour 00
  • 150 g whole almonds (not deprived of brown "skin")

To brush:

  • 1 yolk

P.s the recipe changes from house to house. You'll hardly find one the same.

The recipe for Prato biscuits is one of the most famous in Italy and is processed by combining flour with yeast,baking soda and with a pinch of salt. Separately, then beat the eggs to which you add the sugar, orange zest and almonds. All this then blends and at the end the mixture is placed in trunks in a baking tray where they should be brushed with yolk: all should be cooked for about half an hour at about 160 degrees C. Once ready, the trunks are cut into slices of about 2 centimeters,after which they should be put back in the oven for their "second" cooking (20 minutes) which makes them beautiful and crispy!

The story of Prato's biscuits

Nowadays, people tend to add other ingredients to these cookies,to create different flavors, such as olive oil, anise seeds, chocolate, pistachio and various spices. While many tend to enjoy them with a cup of tea or coffee, the original Tuscan way of eating Pratocookies, is to dip them in a sweet dessert wine known as Vin Santo which is sweet and amber in color. Walking through the streets of the old town it is easy to feel wrapped up in the wonderful scents of freshly baked biscuits, thanks to the presence of numerous ovens of companies that for centuries have made history in this laughing city of Tuscany. Their composition and the way they have been made over the centuries, makes Prato cookies different from those of other cities in the region.



Prato's award-winning biscuits

An original 18th-century recipe is preserved in the Prato State Archives in the 17th-century book of Amadio Baldanzi and The Christian Salvi Fund. In these volumes it is in fact possible to find cookies from all over Italy but especially those of this city. The first and most famous producer was Antonio Mattei who founded his company under the name Mattei Biscuit factory in Via Ricasoli in the year 1858, where he began to produce and sell Prato's almond-flavored cookies. His fame soon crossed the borders of Italy; In fact, Mattei presented them at the Paris World's Fair in 1867, where he also received a special mention. The shop is still there today, and the original recipe of the Tuscan cantucci has not been changed.

The tradition of Prato cookies continues to this day

Meadow cookies are delicious and reproduced wisely by generations of bakers and by many people in their homes. The slight variations are endless and the creative art of the prairie pastry chefs is appropriately expressed. What they have in common is the combination with Vinsanto which is sometimes hidden as an ingredient in eggnog, and which can deliciously accompany cookies. Walking through the streets of Prato you can find them anywhere; In fact, in addition to the historic Mattei oven there are many others such as the Peruzzi Pastry. In Caiano, a few kilometres from Prato, there is the famous Steno Oven that produces many types of Prato biscuits including the Jamaica version that involves the use of chocolate and almonds. Celebrities like Hermann Hesse haveoften talked about these special cookies,and also tried to find out how they are produced.

A real secret is not there as at the base of the goodness of Prato cookies there are only better ingredients and the dough is prepared with flour, sugar, local eggs, almonds and pine nuts of San Rossore, paying special attention to the times of preparation and proportions,and especially without the use of yeast agents, butter, oil or milk.

In these complicated days, why don't you try to make them at home? Let us know how it went.

#dreamingtuscany #iorestoacasa

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