“The finest hours of our lives are almost all connected, with a more or less tangible link, to some memory of the table,” argued French writer Charles Pierre Monselet.
And while every corner of the world has its own traditions related to the food to be brought to the table at the holidays, it is at Christmas that customs and traditions are revealed in all their magic and beauty.
Never before have we all rediscovered the unique importance of genuine affections and emotions, along with the desire to be able to share them with our loved ones. What could be better, then, than to try to relive the magical Christmas atmosphere that only the mountains can evoke, with their snowy vistas, little lights and that muffled atmosphere, by preparing at home the very Christmas recipes most typical of the South Tyrolean and Tyrolean areas? From South Tyrol to the Tyrol, here are some recipes to recreate in your own kitchen at home, dreaming of being in those areas and wishing to return soon to experience the mountains and their magic firsthand.
3 Holiday recipes to evoke the flavors and magical atmosphere of Christmas in the mountains
HOTEL SCHNEEBERG FAMILY RESORT & SPA****
It is a true white oasis of snow, magic and fun that awaits those who decide to stay at the Schneeberg Family Resort & Spa, a 4-star family-resort framed by the Giovo Mountain massif, the Stubai Alps and Snow Mountain (hence the hotel’s name), located 20 minutes from Sterzing. Enveloped by an enchanted landscape painted white, the hotel evokes in style the warmth of the coziest mountain lodges and hides a myriad of pluses that are appreciated by the whole family (by children in particular). Such as the 8,000-square-meter wellness area, with 12 saunas, 2 indoor pools, one outdoor pool, the rock climbing wall, and the Bergiland water park for the kids, with lots of slides and tunnels for hours of fun.
Christmas sweets:the Zelten
And there is nothing better than the enchanted scenery of the picturesque Val Ridanna in South Tyrol, where the Schneeberg Family Resort & Spa is located, to evoke the scents and sweetness of Zelten, a Christmas cake of Central European origin that is spread somewhat throughout the region. It is usually prepared in advance and then enjoyed all together on Christmas Day. The history of this cake is curious: in the past, in fact, each family would make its own Weihnachtszelten, and from the richness of the ingredients and decorations one could tell the level of wealth of those who had made it. That is: a heavy presence of dried fruits in the dough meant that the family was well off and vice versa. Although it is increasingly rarely prepared at home today, every South Tyrolean family jealously preserves its own version, which often contains a “secret” ingredient.
This is the recipe featured in the book “Holiday Dishes.”
THE RECIPE FOR ZELTEN
For the dough:
250 g of rye flour
250 g of wheat flour
40 g of honey
20 g of brewer’s yeast
For the filling:
400 g of dried figs
200 g of raisins
50 g candied citron
50 g candied orange
100 g almonds
100 g of walnuts
50 g pine nuts
5 ml schnapps
5 ml of dark rum
5 ml cognac
cinnamon and ginger powder
80 g of honey
Prepare the fruit by first rinsing figs and raisins. Cut the figs into pieces, removing the stems. Grate the orange peel and squeeze out the juice. Combine in a bowl the orange zest and juice, liqueurs, spices (the tip of a teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of black pepper) and enough water to completely cover the figs and raisins. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let macerate for 12 hours.
Slice the almonds and gently toast them in a nonstick pan with the pine nuts. Coarsely chop the walnuts and keep everything aside.
Prepare the dough: mix the flours and knead them together with a little slightly warm water in which you have dissolved the brewer’s yeast and honey. Knead the dough, adding as much lukewarm water (about 350 ml) as needed to make a soft, fairly compact dough. Place it in a bowl and let it rise for 3 hours covered with a damp tea towel in a warm, non-dry environment.
After the 3 hours have passed, drain any excess liquid from the fruit and add it to the mixture along with pine nuts, almonds, chopped walnuts, and candied fruit. Process until all added ingredients are well incorporated.
Place the Zelten dough in a well-buttered mold (28 cm diameter), brush with honey slightly diluted with water and let rise for another 3 hours, again in a warm, non-dry room.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Decorate the surface of the Zelten with the dried fruit and candied cherries and brush again with honey. Bake and cook for 20 minutes after which brush again with honey and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Bake and brush one last time with honey. Let the cake cool and let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, even a couple of days before serving.
KRUMERS ALPIN RESORT****S
Surrounded by a forested oasis and nestled in one of the most picturesque areas of Seefeld, an Austrian resort with a long tradition of tourism that lies just a few miles from the Italian border, the charming Krumers Alpin Resort****S is the ideal place for those who want to experience the mountains in their entirety. It is located just a few minutes from the historic center of Seefeld, which can be reached by a walk surrounded by the magic of the landscape and snow-covered trees. Recently opened, Krumers Alpin’s new wellness area offers resort guests as much as 3,500 square meters of pure wellness spread over four floors, with a large relaxation area, saunas, biosauna, fitness center, and indoor and outdoor pools. The Krumers Alpin is the ideal hideaway for those who aim for a stay surrounded by immense and far-reaching spaces, not excluding the practice of numerous winter activities: directly from the hotel door starts a journey to discover a world full of activities, from skiing to walks to reach mountain huts and refuges where to plan a pleasant gourmet stop.
Conceived in the 1980s as a Grand Hotel and a true Beauty Farm, whose charm and elegance it has retained in subsequent renovations, the charming Krumers Alpin Resort in Seefeld is the ideal set to set up, even if they are virtually, a mouth-watering snack with the Spitzbuben, the typical shortbread cookies filled with jam, the quintessential symbol of Tyrolean Christmas, accompanied by hot chocolate or steaming tea. Indeed, in Tirol, it is not Christmas if the scent of Spitzbuben cannot be smelled in the house: each family bakes them in quantity, to be enjoyed in the morning at breakfast, with afternoon tea or after dinner, perhaps while all are relaxing together in front of the fireplace. The ingredients of Spitzbuben are simple and wholesome: butter, flour, eggs, sugar and raspberry jam. The traditional shape is round, but they can also be made in the shape of a heart or a flower.What must not be missing is the “little hole” on the top cookie from which the mouth-watering jam filling can be glimpsed, lying between each cookie.
THE RECIPE FOR SPITZBUBEN
For the dough:
650 g of flour
240 g of cold butter
140 g of powdered sugar
3 egg yolks (about 50 g)
half a sachet of baking powder
the grated rind of 1 organic lemon
a pinch of salt
1 jar of raspberry jam
Place all the ingredients in the planetary mixer or blender and knead quickly until you get a fairly firm dough. Place the resulting dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about 3 mm thick. Let the dough sheets rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Remove the dough from the mixer and cut circles out of it with a mold: you can also use a pasta cup, a glass. On half of the cookies cut a hole in the center using either an apple core lever or the mold created just for making Spitzbuben. The whole cookies will be the base of the treats, the perforated ones the top. Place all the cookies on a baking sheet or on the baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake the cookies and let them bake for about 8 minutes at 170/180 C° in a ventilated oven-they should not darken. Once baked, let them cool for about ten minutes after which place half a tablespoon of raspberry jam in the center of each base and overlap the perforated cookie. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
“FEAST DISHES” by Simona Recanatini and Sonia Sassi.
At the table with the memories and flavors of the Holidays: is there anything more beautiful? At Christmas in particular, we Italians love to rediscover the taste of local and regional family dishes, from Cappelletti romagnoli to Cappone ripieno, from Insalata di rinforzo to Pandolce genovese. Within the traditions, each family has its own recipes that are proudly handed down from generation to generation: gestures, habits, flavors that magically come together in a preparation that is more than just a dish: it is life, love, history. And fortunately there are people who love to bring “those” recipes to the table, guarded with sweet passion. This is precisely the thread running through the book “Dishes of the Holidays. Traditional Flavors and Recipes for Celebrating at the Table from Carnival to Christmas” by Simona Recanatini and Sonia Sassi, published by Gribaudo, a book that evokes traditions, memories, and recipes related to the most traditional festivals of our country, where the encounter between typical dishes, creativity and regional ingredients testifies to the richness of an Italy that reveals in taste and the art of cooking its most authentic side. And in such a special historical moment as the one we are living in, where our “certainties” are being challenged and changing all the time, never before should Christmas recipes at least remain a staple of our Holiday season.
A specialty of Trentino-South Tyrol, but originating in the Austrian region, apple strudel(Apfelstrudel) for many people is inseparable from the festive atmosphere of South Tyrol’s Christmas markets, so much so that it has become the signature dessert of the region’s winter and Christmas season, along with Zelten. A beloved and versatile dessert, it is perfect at any time of the day, from breakfast to dinner via a snack. Made from apples, raisins, and pine nuts, it features the unmistakable scent of cinnamon.It can be served with ice cream, with a vanilla custard, or with lightly whipped cream.
APPLE STRUDEL RECIPE
Ingredients for 4-6 people
For the dough:
250g of wheat flour 0
100 ml of water
3 tablespoons of seed oil
For the filling:
100g grated stale bread crumbs
50 g butter
130 g of sugar
5-8 g of cinnamon
170 g of raisins
800 g rennet apples
2 tablespoons of rum
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
For the dough:
Work flour, egg, water and oil with your hands until it forms a smooth mixture, give it a ball shape, brush it with oil to prevent the surface from drying out, and let it rest for 30 minutes, covered with a clean tea towel.
Meanwhile, start preparing the strudel filling: rinse the raisins and drain them well. Then place it in a bowl to soak with the rum and just enough water to cover it.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and when it is hot throw in the breadcrumbs, sautéing them over the flame until they take on color. Let it cool.
Mix the sugar with the cinnamon and set aside. Peel the apples, removing the core, and slice them into wedges about 3 to 4 millimeters thick, wetting them with a few drops of lemon juice. Then mix all the ingredients together to form the filling: the apples, cinnamon-flavored sugar, raisins and breadcrumbs. Form the strudel at this point, helping yourself with a floured rectangular dishcloth on which you will roll out the dough with a rolling pin. The rolled out dough should be thin-you will need to see the cloth through.
Approximately the thickness should be 1 to 2 millimeters. Brush the dough with melted butter. Pour the filling into the narrow side of the rolled-out dough and helping yourself with the dishcloth, roll the strudel starting from the side with the filling. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for about 40 minutes, until the surface of the cake is golden brown.
GIFT IDEA: The book “The Dishes of the Holidays” (Gribaudo) can be purchased here: https://www.lafeltrinelli.it/libri/simona-recanatini/i-piatti-feste/9788858022542