A very ancient dessert from Veneto, it used to be prepared with multigrain flour and raisins, dry figs, apples, spices, fennel seeds, and the rind of citrus fruit. It was the old Christmas sweet bread. The ingredients, which reached the territory of Veneto thanks to the blossoming trade of the Veneto Republic, are those typical of the winter period. The Pinza was prepared by bringing together all the cold season had to offer; the principal ingredients and the yellow polenta flour, and it was typically prepared during Epiphany, at which time huge bonfires were built, the so-called panaini or pìroe-paroe or vècie; a pagan ritual that left the old year behind and began the new one reborn to new life and to burn the bundles of wood cut during the autumn, as a propitiating rite to eliminate the old and hope for an abundant harvest in the upcoming season. And so 6th January is the day of the Befana witch, called by the people of Veneto "striga", or "stria", or "vecia”. Nature is reborn after the sowing of seeds, the expectations for the future are numerous and as the smoke rose into the sky our ancestors drew good omens for a successful harvest.The pinza was prepared and then baked under the embers of the bonfire, that, once they went out, relinquished the dessert cooked and ready to eat. Its ingredients are humble and it's preparation simple. It's the most typical dessert in the tradition of the peasants from Veneto, and no other dish better reflects the rural-commercial origins of its people. Also the venetian Popes, of rural background, Pio X and John Paul the First, were gluttons for this dessert. Today the bonfires are made to celebrate the tradition and above all to share a joyful night together, drinking mulled wine and hot chocolate, and eating Pinza. Bruna learned the recipe from her grandmother and every Epiphany, all winter long, prepares the Pinza. It was the typical traditional country sweet and today is still the most widely used and consumed of the Christmas cakes.
You begin by preparing the polenta. Boil 1 L of water and then add the yellow flour, mixing for 30-40 minutes in order to obtain a smooth polenta. Leave the polenta to cool in a dish. Cut the dried figs into pieces and grate the lemon. Once the polenta has cooled down a bit add the butter and soft wheat flour, then the fennel seeds, raisins, cane sugar, pine nuts and dried figs.
Mix well until the ingredients are united and the mixture homogeneous. Next pour the mixture into a buttered and floured dish and bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 45-50 minutes. To see if the dessert is cooked, prick with a toothpick; if it comes out clean the cake is ready. Take out of the oven and leave to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature with mulled wine.