Italy on the 6th January: Celebrate Epiphany & Befana Day

Epiphany Day on the January 6th is a very special day in Italy. It is the Christian holiday that celebrates the first time Jesus was shown in public. And it is a double-celebration in Italy, as there is the folkloric tradition of the Befana (whose name derives from Epiphany), an elderly woman who flies on a worn-out broom and delivers sweets to those children who have behaved well and coal to others, placing them inside a sock.

There are special Epiphany dishes prepared in Italy which may differ slightly by region. Traditional dishes, sweet and savory, to celebrate the arrival of the Befana in Italy, such as  in Tuscany the Sienese cavallucci and the Lucchese befanini. The former, typical of the city that hosts the Palio, are soft spiced biscuits made with honey, anise, walnuts and candied fruit. A Christmas sweet already popular at the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent, called Biriquocoli, to be dipped strictly in Vin Santo or Marsala. Befanini, biscuits made with citrus fruits and rum made with typical shapes that recall the symbols of Christmas, are typical sweets from the Lucca and Viareggio area that children find in their stockings on the morning of the sixth January.

In Piedmont, we have another dessert  - the Befana fugassa (fugassa d'la befana), a sweet focaccia bread from the Cuneo area.  It has a characteristic shape that resembles a sun or a daisy and is made of brioche bread enriched with candied fruit. Apparently the Befana focaccia is even older than the typical Christmas and Easter desserts such as panettone and colomba. Tradition dictates that a white bean and a black bean are hidden inside the sweet Piedmontese focaccia. Whoever finds the white bean will have to pay for the focaccia, while whoever finds the black bean will pay for everyone's drinks. In some areas the broad beans are replaced by a small king and the lucky person who finds the figure in his slice will be the king of the day.


250 g of 00 flour;  250 g of Manitoba flour;  1 cube of brewer's yeast; 180 g of warm milk; 70 g of sugar; 80 g of butter;  2 eggs; 100 g of candied fruit and raisins;  the seeds of 1 vanilla pod; 1 pinch of salt; 1 egg yolk + milk for brushing;  granulated sugar to decorate; 1 stone


While you prepare the dough, soak the raisins in hot water. Place the two types of flour, the eggs, the sugar and the melted butter in a planetary mixer. Turn it on with the dough hook fitted and slowly add the milk in which you have dissolved the yeast. Now add the vanilla bean seeds. To remove them, place the berry on a cutting board and cut it lengthwise. Using the tip of the blade, remove the seeds and transfer them to the planetary mixer together with the soaked and squeezed raisins and the candied fruit. Knead until it comes together, then transfer it to a bowl, cover and leave to rise in the oven with the light on for 2 hours. The dough should double in volume. Now take your dough and, using a rolling pin, roll it out to a thickness of 2.5 cm. Place a glass in the center and use a pastry cutter to form 16 petals, cutting the dough in a radial pattern. Hide the broad bean inside one of them and roll them up on themselves.

Beat the egg with a spoonful of milk and brush your flower. Decorate with granulated sugar and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.

Grazie a Primochef.it

The Neapolitan broro 'e purpo is more than a simple recipe; but a real tourist attraction in Naples as one of the original street foods. But what does it have to do with the Befana? Neapolitan tradition requires that octopus broth be consumed on the night of January 6, in the streets of the city and on domestic tables: the recipe seems to date back to 1300 and even Boccaccio, was won over by the simplicity and goodness of this humble dish, wrote about it in a letter addressed to a friend of his.

Traditionally on the table, for the day of the Befana, an important first course cannot be missing - which is the lasagna. In Liguria, there is white lasagna - "Epifagna gianca lazagna", according to the tradition serving thin squares of pasta made with only flour and water, white, as was customary back then without eggs. They were seasoned with pesto or white mushroom sauce, sometimes cooked in broth, but never with tomato.


250 g of fresh lasagna sheets; 300 g of bechamel; 300 g of minced beef; 200 g of minced pork; 1 stick of celery; 1 medium onion;  carrot; 1 glass of dry white wine; 1/2 glass of milk; 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil; 30 g of butter

plenty of grated Parmesan cheese; salt; pepper; fresh thyme


Start preparing the white lasagna with the sauté, the basis for the ragù. Finely chop, with the mixer or with the knife, celery, carrot and onion. Brown them in a saucepan with oil and butter. When they have become shiny, add the minced meat and brown it, stirring with a thick wooden spoon. When you notice that it has changed color, add the wine and evaporate the alcoholic part over a high heat. Add the milk, salt, pepper and lower the heat. Partially cover and continue cooking for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep aside. Blanch the pasta sheets for a few minutes, drain them with a slotted spoon and let them dry on a cloth. Butter a baking dish and place a layer of bechamel on the bottom. Now arrange a layer of pasta, followed by béchamel, ragù and plenty of grated parmigiano reggiano. Continue in this way alternating the layers and finishing with the ragù. Sprinkle once again with the parmesan and cook in a preheated oven at 200° for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let the white lasagna settle for a few minutes and serve. Grazie a Cucchiaio d'Argento!

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