“What to make for christmas!?”, must be the number one question these past few weeks for a lot of people in Western and Christian societies . For me it was the past days. Luckily I have the 25th all planned out for me because I’m going to celebrate it with my family. Anyhow me and my boy decided yesterday what we’re going to make for dinner the 26th (the boy was more concerned about the films we’re going to watch). Despite my short term decision for dinner, there’s always one thing I know I’ll make for sure and will definitely eat A LOT… Pan de Pascua.
Pan de pascua is a Chilean Christmas cake. Made with walnuts, dried fruits, spices and liquor. The name confused me at one point in my life. I realised… Pascua means easter… (Pascua-Isla de Pascua-EASTER ISLAND!?) so technicaly it’s easter bread. I panicked because: “HAVE WE BEEN EATING THIS ON THE WRONG HOLIDAY FOR YEARS??” One round on Google and it clarified for me that Pascua refers both to Easter and Christmas in Spanish. Silly me, questioning my madre’s knowledge of her tradition.
My madre makes this Chilean christmas treat every year. And ever as I can remember I was at her side watching how she was making it until she let me join in the process. I’ve seen years of failure. The Pan de Pascua came out hard as a rock. I saw her struggling, trying to figure out what went wrong. Phone calls to my tia (also living here in the Netherlands) to discuss what went wrong.
After a few years of failure she decided to make it with cake batter. Which came out delicious. But it’s not the real deal. I know that because my madre and tia’s exchange their baking goods during the holidays. I get all excited when I saw a package wrapped in aluminium foil. The one they make is like a bread (pan = bread).
In 2013 I went to Chile. To be precise the second of january, hello new year, bye Dutch cold. Still in that time, family members had Pan de Pascua and the supermarkets and bakeries still had them in stock. I got to taste the real REAL deal! Again I noticed the difference. It was also different than the Pan de Pascua my tia makes in the Netherlands. Pan de Pascua’s structure is in between cake and bread and the color is brownish.
2013, is also the year my mother entered the world of Facebook and were she became a more active internet user. A few weeks before Christmas she called me from me behind the computer. “Look at this, I found a recipe for Pan de Pascua. It looks good, look at that photo. Let’s make it. How do I print this!?” Spot on, it was the best recipe ever. We were so thrilled when it came out of the oven. It rose, it smelled good, and the best part: IT WASN’T ROCK HARD.
This year it’s round two for this recipe! (I’m making it right at this moment) What do you need for this (in my opinion) heavenly treat:
1 kilo flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup lukewarm milk
3 bags of yeast (30 gr)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cup of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup of rum
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
2 cups of candied fruits
1 cup of golden raisins
How to make it:
1. Put the flour, sugar, yeast, lukewarm milk in a bowl. Add the salt and mix the ingredients well. Add one by one the eggs while you keep stirring (do now whisk) the mixture. Incorporate the butter and instant coffee. Knead the dough until it’s compact and until it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore (add flour if needed). Let the dough rest for 5 minutes under a tea-towel.
2. Leave the candied fruits, walnuts and raisins soak for about 5 minutes in the rum with the ground cinnamon, ground cloves and ground nutmeg. Knead this mixture into the dough until it’s well spread.
Divide the dough in two. Butter a cake thin with a diameter of 18 cm and put the dough in it. Cover it with a moist tea-towel and set it aside for about an hour. After an hour you’ll see the dough increased in volume.
3. Bake the Pan de Pascua in a preheated oven, 180°C, for about 40 to 60 minutes. Pull the Pan de Pascua out of the oven. Put a tea-towel on top of the Pan de Pascua (still in it’s mold) and let it cool off. Take the Pan de Pascua out of the thin when it’s lukewarm. This way it’ll come out easier. Let it cool off and it’s ready to serve.
Confession: I eat this for breakfast and lunch for Christmas. ENJOY!
For the hispanohablantes: read the original recipe we use on comebienvivebien.cl