Iće i piće

NO 20, July 2010


A Torte from Time Immemorial

Jelena Glavić Perčin

Photos: Damir Fabijanić

My gran doesn’t know where she got the recipe from but she has had it a long time and often makes macaroni. This is the real goods about the torte from Pelješac, actually from Ston. Our investigations didn’t reveal anything precise, only that the recipe has been handed down from generation to generation. No one available to boast of facts from the archives of history, just an incomplete oral tradition. But perhaps we might set someone off on the trail...

Like an old sea dog that remembers much, apparently rough and indomitable, in fact, Pelješac, with its sun-drenched slopes of meticulously cultivated vineyards, its blue-green sandy beaches that retiringly keep the secrets of ancient memories, with its stone facades and defensive walls, memories of a long and famous history, is pliant, hospitable and kind, but still, persistent in its individuality, which needs to be experienced.

How do you best and most authentically experience this specialness of Pelješac if not through meetings with people with the Pelješac people, their lifestyle, customs, manner of living? And the way of life, the essence of it, the most subtle part is absolutely the table tradition, this cult place of extremely diverse human encounters – political, business, amicable, familial, amorous and so on.

And when you set out to make the acquaintance of the region, where else first but Ston, little town on the sea on the isthmus that links the peninsula with the mainland? It’s a little town with a big history and curiosities known throughout the world. It has the longest fortification system in the world next to the Great Wall; it has the oldest salt pan system in Europe, perhaps in the world, still producing salt naturally as in the centuries gone past.

Plavac Mali, Dingač and Postup (grapes/wines) and Ston oysters are just some of the characteristics of the Ston table, essential place for getting to know the region. And the famed Ston torte of macaroni can also be listed in this society of Pelješac treats known far and wide. It’s a superb and original traditional treat that was once baked for special occasions such as Christmas and Easter. And this charming and above all extremely tasty tradition is still holding its own. Its ingredients – the macaroni, butter, lemon, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon and vanilla – tell of its roots in the wider Mediterranean, and in the way it’s prepared, in the quantity and proportions of the ingredients, it gives free rein to individual creativity.

Have a go at this simple recipe and find out for yourself about a taste that irresistibly calls up the images and scents and savours of the Med... The torte (and we thank her) was prepared by Nina Erceg.

Nela Vlašić: I’m from Mali Ston. I know that this is a tradition, and some call it Dubrovnik or Ston Torte. They’re all the same thing. The recipe is handed down from generation to generation, but everyone adds a bit. I think that this recipe of mine is the best, he-he-he. I don’t know the history, or any legends, or how old it is. In our family we have the tradition of making this torte twice a year – for Carnival and All Saints.

Ston Torte

flour 300 g
vinegar 1 soup spoon
melted lard 1 soup spoon
yolk of egg 1
walnuts 200 g
almonds 200 g
breadcrumbs 120 g
sugar 400 g
chocolate powder 4 – 5 soup spoons
lemon zest 1
packet of margarine 250 g
eggs 10
sugar 100 g
  1. Boil the thickest kind of Italian macaroni (10 mm) longer than 20 min not to be too hard, or it won’t bake, and not too long, or it will fall to pieces. Drain.
  2. Mix all the pastry ingredients and leave it somewhere warm to stand for 15 – 20 min.
  3. Grind the nuts. Mix up all the ingredients for the filling.
  4. Roll out the pastry and line a tin (dia 28 cm, volume 5 litres) to cover the bottom, the rest to hang over the sides, because the top of the torte will be covered with it later.
  5. Place in the tin a layer of filling, then a layer of flakes of margarine, and then a thin layer of pasta (macaroni) and so on. The last row should be the filling. At the top, put the rest of the layers of margarine or butter, for it to melt.
  6. Whisk the 10 eggs and 100 g of sugar into a froth. Pour it on top and close up the pastry with a soft pressure of the hand. Bake at first for 200 °C, and then turn it down to 190 °C, and bake for all told one hour.

tip It’s best made a day before it’s due to be eaten.

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