This past week I stopped by to say hello to Maria and her family at Caffe Sicila. Nina, Maria’s Mom, invited me to come and see she and her sister Grace making pignulata. Caffe Sicilia has dozens and dozens of orders for this wonderful traditional fried pastry desert and they had already begun the first stages several days ago. Nina explains it is most typically served in Sicilian homes around Christmas time, but also other holidays too. Making this treat is a multi-step process, and labor intensive in the volume undertaken by Caffe Sicilia. The sisters offered lots of tips for making the most delicious pignulata (also spelled pignolata) and I hope I am remembering all that they shared!
The bits of dough are throughly drained and set aside for several days as they release more oil. When ready to mold the pignulata, a glaze made of boiled honey and sugar is poured over the fried dough.
Nina and Grace grew up in Terrasini, Sicily, emigrating from Italy when they were young teens. The sisters talked about how back in their childhood days, most people did not have a kitchen oven. To bake their weekly bread and to bake treats during the holidays, families would take their loaves and cookies and cakes to the local town baker and “rent” their oven for a nominal fee. Cookies and cakes were placed on long, long wooden trays and carefully placed in the baker’s oven. Now everyone has their own oven, but most don’t bake nearly as much as they did in the old days.
Visit Caffe Sicilia and see their beautiful display of cuccidati (and every other kind of traditional Sicilian Christmas cookie), wonderfully sweet and spicy gingerbread cakes, cassata cakes, mini pignulata’s, Maria’s handmade marzipan fruits, and much, much more deliciousness!
Caffe Sicilia is located at 40 Main Street. For more information call 978-283-7345.