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Cartellate - Christmas Apulian dessert

Cartellate - Christmas Apulian dessert

Cartellate - Christmas Apulian dessert

Cartellate, in dialect "carteddate", are the most typical Christmas dessert in Puglia. The origin is very ancient and is lost in mythology; it seems that Demeter was fond of a flour-based dessert washed down with wine and honey which, in case of a good harvest, was offered as a gift. In the Christian era the same desserts were prepared in homage to the Madonna. And in the 16th century, as it appears in a document dated 1517, they were served as "nevole et procassa" at the wedding of Bona Sforza d'Aragona, daughter of Isabella. The name could derive instead from paper, "greaseproof paper" or foil, for the thin thickness and the crunchy consistency of the sheet, or from the Latin "cartellus" or "cartallus" (basket, basket) or from the Sicilian "cartedda" (basket) for the typical shape that makes it look like a woven basket. In fact, these are jagged ribbons of very thin fried dough, closed to form roses or crowns that remind, for the popular imagination, the halo or the bands of the baby Jesus. The perfect cartellate are thin and delicate, almost ineffable, and the secret is all in the lightness of the pasta and in the ability of the hands that make them. As usual, each house has its own recipe, jealously guarded, and each housewife takes special care in packaging the dessert that is often given. They can be completed with the local vincotto, or with poured honey and finally decorated with sugared almonds and dried fruit. This is my Aunt Tina's recipe, with the delicate orange scent in the dough.


Chef: Viviana Lapertosa
Time: 20 min of preparation, 30 min of cooking
Type of Cooking: Baked
Doses for: 6 people

Ingredients for Cartellate - Christmas Apulian dessert

For the pasta:

  • 500 g of flour
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • dry anise or sambuca
  • 1 spoonful of sugar
  • 1 pinch of ammonia for sweets
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • salt
  • peanut oil for frying 

To complete:

  • 300 g of honey
  • 100 g of granulated sugar
  • candies
  • toasted pine nut



  1. Mix the flour with the juice of the oranges, the wine, the oil, the sugar, the ammonia and the salt.
  2. If the dough is too hard, add a little water or other orange juice to obtain a soft and velvety ball.
  3. Leave the dough to rest for half an hour, then roll it out into a very thin sheet.
  4. To facilitate the operation, use the dough sheeter or dough stretcher.
  5. With a notched wheel cut strips 3-4 cm wide and 20-30 long.
  6. Fold the strips in two along the entire length by matching the two longer sides.
  7. Crush the dough with your fingertip at a distance of 3 or 4 centimeters and spiral-wrap each strip.
  8. Continue until the strips are exhausted and place them gradually on a dry cloth lightly dusted with flour.
  9. Fry the cartellate in hot oil (170 ° C) very few at a time, so that when they meet the oil they open like a flower.
  10. Drain them gently, with the spider skimmer, when they are golden brown and swollen.
  11. Place them on fried paper by changing it often.
  12. Allow the cartellate to cool and place them in a large tray.
  13. In a saucepan, slowly melt the honey and sugar until they are very fluid.
  14. Pour the still hot liquid on the cartellate, using a fork that will drop the right amount on each cartellate.
  15. Complete with a shower of colored sugared almonds and some toasted pine nuts.
  16. The cartellate prepared in this way can be kept for several weeks, just think that they are prepared a few days before Christmas and are eaten throughout the holidays.
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