Flavours of Umbria

La Rocciata

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One of the most typical and appreciated cakes in the areas of Assisi, Foligno and Spello is the famous Rocciata, a cake with very ancient origins.

According to a first hypothesis it could "derive" from a recipe - very similar to the current one - reported in the "Iguvine tables", concerning a cake called "tersendo" and baked during the sacred rituals as it is considered the cake of the god Horto Cerfio, an ancient Umbrian divinity.

But since the Rocciata is very similar to the Strudel, we cannot exclude even a possible Lombard influence, or vice versa: perhaps the Lombards appreciated this Umbrian cake to the point that it became part of their cuisine.

The name Rocciata comes from the typical dialect of the Foligno area, from roccia or rocciu, which means "round", precisely because of the shape it takes.

It is such a popular cake that it is even commonly referred to as the "Rocciata di Foligno", recognized as a traditional food product of the Umbrian region. In July a hamlet of Foligno, called San Giovanni Profiamma, usually hosts the Festival of the Rocciata, with stands offering this typical local product and many other products always taken from medieval recipes.

The characteristics of Rocciata are a thin sheet of pastry made of wheat flour, water and oil (from Umbria of course) which envelops a mixture of walnuts, olive oil, sugar and apples. These are the basic ingredients, accompanied, depending on the areas and personal tastes, by Alkermes, cocoa, sultanas, dried figs, cinnamon, pine nuts or jam. This dough is wrapped in the pastry and turned in a spiral on itself. On the outside, the pastry is coated with Alkermes or oil and today it is more and more common to spread icing sugar on it. In this form, the cake is baked in the oven.

The same recipe can also have a salty version, obtained by mixing for the stuffing cabbages fried in a pan - a version called Fojata or Erbata.

The Rocciata is a typical late autumn and Christmas cake. At Christmas it is easy to find it especially in the houses of Spoleto but is also cooked very often for All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day in early November, or during Carnival, especially for the areas of Giano dell'Umbria.