Goddess of Fertility Day

Pupazza of the chestnut forest

Yes there is such a day, and no way was I going to let it go by without mention of the extra-endowed Pupazza Frascatana. More than a decade ago we visited Pasticceria Purificato in the town of Frascati (Rome) where these cookies originated. Standing at about 10-inches tall, they’re symbolic of abundance and fertility, just the thing we all look forward to with spring equinox in a few days. Unfortunately the shop doesn’t sell online, so I put together a quick recipe based on various descriptions and basically cut my pupazza freehand.

Check out this video of how they make the pupazza at Pasticceria Purificato (subtitled).

The original recipe lists honey, oil, orange extract, flour and that’s it. These are very firm cookies (the texture reminded me of teething biscuits!), perfect for dipping in coffee or wine. This is what I did:

4 oz. butter (113 grams or 1/2 cup)
8 oz. millefiori honey (225 grams or 3/4 cup)
2 1/4 cup “00” flour (roughly 330 grams)

Gently warm the butter until melted. Remove from heat and add the honey; stir to combine well. Add the flour all at once and mix to a smooth texture. Divide dough into thirds and roll each directly onto baking parchment (pre-sized to fit baking sheet) to approximately 1/4-inch or 5 mm. Cut out desired shapes with cookies cutters or a pastry wheel. Remove dough scraps, slide parchment onto baking sheet, and bake at 180°C/350°F for 12-15 minutes until light brown around the edges.

You can reroll the scraps, but if the dough has firmed up too much, zap in the microwave at 10-second intervals to soften. Cool baked cookies completely and store in an airtight container.

Bitten by the springtime bug

Yes it’s technically still winter, and normally I believe ‘bitten’ is that seasonal urge to roll up the sleeves for a day of cleaning out winter’s cobwebs. Hello primavera! In this case, however, we just wanted a change of place with a view to go with it. Somewhere other than our usual #1 choice of Piemonte. Someplace that offered a vista like this…

Castello Rocchetta Mattei (Savignano, Emilia-Romagna)

Ca’ dla Gina – Situated at the edge of a forest with a terrace facing the castle, our small, fully equipped house rental, (that means tv and internet y’all) was too good of a deal to pass up. Plenty of space for the furkids to run around, absolute peace, and in the evenings, visits from forest friends! They came around 5-6pm on each day, but were too shy (or too wary of the dogs) to stay put as soon as we opened the door.

Taken from the kitchen window

Although much of the landscape was still winter barren, early-blooming trees were already at their showy best. I’m not familiar with this area of Emilia-Romagna (about an hour south of Bologna) but if WWII history interests you, the Regional Park of Monte Sole keeps witness to tragic events. From the parking at Casaglia cemetery, a 1/2-mile walking path leads downward to Cerpiano (difference in level is 180 feet).

Spending a few moments of quiet reflection at Cerpiano, Parco Storico di Monte Sole