Pastarelle of the Epiphany

There is a variety of cakes that are made for the Epiphany fest, nevertheless all around Italy they tend to be biscotti, cookies made with short pastry and baked. In my region, Le Marche, they are called pastarelle and they are the simplest cookies recipe you could ever find. They are also super cheap as they were made by the poor Italian mamas of the last century, poorer than the current ones, and given to kids in place of chocolate, sweets and presents on the Ephiphany day. The recipe involves the use of strutto: pig fat, commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or spread similar to butter; for this recipe you will also use baker’s ammonia, which you could find in any drug-store, which I swear is not an instrument of death but only a culinary mystery. I don’t really know why they used to use ammonia for the leavening instead of baking soda but I know that the main advantage of using it is that the mix can stand unbaked for long hours without losing its leavening power.



  • 2 eggs
  • 300gr of sugar
  • 250ml of milk
  • 100gr of “strutto”
  • 30gr of ammonia
  • grated lemon
  • vanillin flavoring

Before beginning switch the oven on to 180°C and line baking trays with baking paper. Break the eggs and mix the sugar, when is well combined grate the lemon, as much as you like, and add the vanillin flavoring. Then add the milk in which you had previously mixed the ammonia and don’t worry if the mix looks a bit weird.


Finally add the flour and knead until the dough is smooth enough, but remember to not over-beat it otherwise it will become too hard. Once you are done, roll out small pieces, shape and decorate as you wish. Happy sweet Ephiphany.



7 thoughts on “Pastarelle of the Epiphany

  1. Pingback: Happy-phany | mamadegree

  2. Pingback: Pastarelle of the Epiphany | Le Marche and Food...

    • Hey, I am talking about ammonium bicarbonate, which is a leavening agent usually used for smaller baked goods that will have a hairy and crispy texture. This is an ingredient similar to baking soda but they cannot be used interchangeably. Check out this website for more info:

      Strutto is a fat cream made from the fatnprotective tissuesmunder pigskin. The tissues are cooked then the pigskin is separated from liquid fat, which is then make it cold to solidify. Instead of expensive olive oil the strutto, the strutto was used for cooking. Strutto is generally trasnlated with the word “lard” in english but it does not have to be confused with the Italian word “lardo”, which is the very famous salted pig fat preserved for month under big stones in very cold cellars with a mixture of herbs. I hope i answered to your questions.

  3. Pingback: Pastarelle of the Epiphany | Food services MENA...

  4. Thank you very much for your response, I will have to try these they look very good and easy to make. I am here in the United States and I am from the old school and will have to convert the measurements. Again thank you for your speedy response..

    • You are very welcome!! Oh yea the measurements sorry you will have to work them out as I was brought up using the “kilos-system”.
      And yea they are super easy, cheap and quick to make and they are great with a glass of milk! I was browsing the web and apparently in the US you do have cans of lard, which is my strutto!!

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