Tag Archives: Pannetone

The Umbrian Cake Trail With Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!, Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!

What better way to restart the Rocking Dog blog than a post about cake! We finally returned home from Umbria on Monday evening after a 1,300 mile drive through Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. The highlight was seeing Lake Como, Lugano and Lucerne by night. It was so reminiscent of an elaborate model railway layout. Truly enchanting.

In between painting No5 throughout, dismantling bunks, building a bed and reconfiguring furniture, there were small windows of opportunity to go in search of cake!

I am always curious about how people create holiday itineraries. There must be those who go in search of rare birds, those who try to select the most idilic poolside for sunbathing, and those who seek out dangerous sports for an adrenalin rush! My itinerary seems to centre around food. Markets, food festivals, local speciality shops all hold tremendous appeal. Even the humble supermarket is always more exciting far away from home. The solitary shop in the village is an Aladdin’s cave of Umbrian goodies. Locally butchered meats, local vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, Umbrian lentils, it became part of my daily routine to walk Real Live Rocking Dog there in the morning. I believe in the philosophy “use it or else lose it”

We found some spectacular cake shops in Assisi (approximately a 1 hour drive from our little place). Meringues, pastries, Pannetore, bombes and gelato it really was a sugar rush! Interestingly, although I love taking photo’s of the sweet treats I much prefer a savoury plate. Italian cheeses and salami’s are my downfall.

On my first day away from UK I realised just how much I missed Marmite. A mean 150ml jar will need to be stashed in my hand luggage when we return to Umbria in the spring.

Locally, there is always Michele’s with an amazing array of full size and amuse bouche sized cakes, desserts and pastries. My favourite has to be the aragosta (lobster tail). It is a shell shaped horn made up of thin layers of light crispy pastry which is filled with a flavoured cream. The original pastry was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in the province of Salerno in the 17th Century. Later the recipe was acquired by a pastry chef from Naples called Pasquale Pintauro. He started selling these pastries from his shop in 1818. Michele’s aragosta’s contain a delicious rich creme patisserie. Delicious! Interestingly the girls spotted Nick Ross heading into Michele’s, I wonder what his favourite is!

Wednesday’s and Sundays it’s up to Paciano for a coffee and pastry at Lo Scoiattolo (The Squirrel). Sitting in the family kitchen you can eat delicious bread and pastries from the wood fired oven. Fausto makes a divine cappuccino whilst Lia deals with the Italian/German influenced yeasty loveliness. Our first weekend there, a local town was hosting a Saffron festival. In honour of this amazing local flower product, Lia made delicious saffron buns with a dusting of rose petals and cornflowers, much too good for Real Live Rocking Dog! Later in the week some of the Borgo degli Olivi residents went for a baking masterclass with Lia … more about that in a later post.

Now it’s time to go on the straight and narrow after three weeks of bread, cheese, charcuterie, wine and just the odd aragosta here and there!


Window Shopping, Rocking Dog

Window Shopping

Gilded Treats, Rocking Dog

Gilded Treats

Piped Loveliness, Rocking Dog

Piped Loveliness

Michele's Amuse Bouche, Rocking Dog

Michele’s Amuse Bouche

Take Me Home!, Rocking Dog

Take Me Home!

Too Good For RLRD!, Rocking Dog

Too Good For RLRD!

More Festive Hosiery From Rocking Dog

Santa's Tankards, Rocking Dog

Santa’s Tankards

In between doing a brilliant Kim and Aggie job on Andyman’s mum’s flat (just who does need eight can openers?!) I have been trying to soldier on with a little bit of heart slowing sewing. Worryingly, I have to have my blood pressure taken this morning, better fit some sewing in before I hit the surgery!

Late night sewing is getting to be a speciality of mine, and I finally forced myself to bed at 2am on Saturday night. The results of my labours are festive hosiery made from some ?50’s fabric featuring lovely jolly tankards. Complemented by vintage gingham, floral braid and brushed metal buttons they somehow look quite Tyrolean! In past incarnations the fabric had been kitsch curtains before I bought it to make French style aprons for a vintage garden party.

Now, these stockings are looking for long term caring homes. A stocking is for life and not just one Christmas! My own beloved tartan stocking was made by my Mum and has been with me for as long as I can remember. It’s a long time since it was filled, but I still hang it up every year just in case! There was always a clementine in its toe and of course we continued the tradition with our own brood who always groaned because none of them liked this lovely Christmassy fruit. The other contents in my stocking would typically be puzzles, bouncy balls, felt pens, chocolate coins, fart cushions, trick cigarettes (how un-PC now!) etc… Does anyone out there remember the shells which you put in a glass of water and would magically let out tendrils of brightly coloured tissue paper?

Alas this year is the year we finally put an end to stockings for Sorrel, Alex and Olivia. As Lord Alan Sugar would say “it’s with deep regret…..but..” Of course at 29,28 and 22 you really can’t get away with a pack of Happy Families, tendrilly shells and trick cigarettes! I won’t miss the wrapping but I will the excitement of all of us (sometimes six fill size humans plus Real Live Rocking Dog!) snuggling into bed “to do the stockings”. Maybe we’ll just have to conjure up another tradition to replace the stockings. Perhaps we’ll drink Champagne and eat Pannetone all snuggled up on Christmas morning.

The vintage glittery folk as ever are hopeful that just maybe this is the year I will relax and let them adorn parcels. Sorry folks I still love you far too much to part with you!

I think my festive hosiery making is now at an end for 2015. Swimming in treacle (aka cleaning and caring), wedding flowers for a truly gorgeous bride & groom and polishing up a fabulous brass bed ( I will have to show you before and after photo’s in a future blog) beckon this week. Whatever your week brings I hope you’ll feel happy and fulfilled, and not too windswept!

PS. Just had to play my most favourite Christmas record ever over the weekend. It must have been talking on the phone to my brother across the pond that made me do it! Love this. Miss you bruv’!

2 am Tyrolean Inspiration, Rocking Dog

2 am Tyrolean Inspiration

Tankard Swilling Glittery Fellow, Rocking Dog

Tankard Swilling Glittery Fellow

My Childhood Stocking, Rocking Dog

My Childhood Stocking