This is a cake made with almonds, which is spiral- shaped and resembles a coiled up snake.The ingredients (except for the pine nuts) are mixed by hand in a bowl until a soft, smooth dough is obtained and it is then kneaded by hand and shaped to look like a coiled up snake (torciglione, meaning spiral). It is decorated with candied peel (ears), pine nuts or almonds, sized to taste and placed on the snake’s back (or cuts can be made on its back, to look like scales) and coffee beans (eyes). The torciglione is then placed on a baking tray (which may be lined with oven paper) and cooked in the oven at 180°C for 20-30 minutes.

This is a fresh product, which should be kept in a cool, dry place and eaten within 2 or 3 days.

Throughout the year, starting from Christmas and New Year, we find it customary and pleasant to eat some torciglione. This is nothing like the tortiglione from Lombardy, which is a roll of pastry, filled with raisins, pine nuts and spices. The shape of our own pastry is inspired by the eel and its origin can, therefore, be found in the specialities of the lakeside villages of Lake Trasimeno. It is now common in other areas and eaten all year long, while in the past it was usually kept from one year to the next and brought out, well-matured, at Christmas dinner.

Ingredients for 1 snake cake:

300g whole almonds
125g caster sugar or vanilla-flavoured sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 egg whites
For decorating: 2 coffee beans, 1 slivered almond, pine nuts (as needed)

Preparation: 20min › Cook: 35min › Ready in: 55min

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 C / Gas 2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2.  Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain, rub off the skin and place on lined baking tray.   Bake for 5-7 minutes or until dry. Allow to cool completely.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 180 C / Gas 4. Line a baking tray with a silicon mat or with parchment paper.
  4. Process the almonds, 2 tablespoons of sugar and lemon zest in a food processor until fine and resembles breadcrumbs (not too fine). Transfer to a bowl; add remaining sugar and mix well.
  5. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into the almond and sugar mixture. Pour the mix onto the silicon-lined baking tray and shape as a long or curled up snake.
  6. Use coffee beans as eyes and a slivered almond as the tongue. Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts along the sides; insert pine nuts into the slits to resemble snake skin.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing.