Here comes Halloween! As you might imagine, Italy’s shops are full of pumpkin shaped tarts and more, such as the curious tombstone shaped Pane dei Morti or Bread of the Dead, as it can be translated.
At this time of year bakeries all over Milan and Lombardy have a plentiful supply of these cakes which masquerade as bread for the dead.
In the dead bread mix, amongst other things is, flour, cinnamon, Amaretti, cocoa, as well as figs and nutmeg, and Vin Santo – a dessert wine. There is also some yeast, but while the name alludes to some relationship with bread, they seem to be rather distant cousins.
The flavor is spicy and fruity. The cinnamon is very much in evidence too.
Despite the disconcerting name, these Italian cakes are rather tasty.
If you happen to be in Italy this Halloween, maybe visiting spooky Poveglia Island, then grab some to try. You will have to be quick though, because this dead bread may not be made until Halloween comes around once again.
Should you find the wait too long to bear, you can try making your own bread of the dead with this recipe, in English, over on Huffington post. I have compared the Huff Post recipe to one on an Italian cooking website and it appears to use the very same ingredients, do the result should authentic.
If cooking sounds like too much of a hassle, hop on a plane and come visit Italy!
Now, if only I can work out exactly why the dead might want bread. Soul food?
Interesting Italy seems to have recipes for every season and festivity. It is a fascinating place for food lovers.