Gubana: the traditional cake of Friuli Venezia Giulia
“I’ve had enough! I drop everything and go to work in a mountain hut! ” Stefano and I often tell each other that. Between saying and doing, we train by cooking Gubana and other traditional Friulian dishes.
Gubana is the typical recipe that satisfies us the most because, frico aside, it is the one we started making before.
Read on if you want to find out the recipe.
Gubana is a leavened baked cake typical of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
It has a spiral shape of about 20 cm in diameter and is filled with raisins, walnuts, pine nuts, and grappa.
The history of Gubana
Like many traditional Friulian recipes, the history of Gubana also has its roots in the many invasions that have hit Friuli Venezia Giulia over the centuries.
Tradition has it that the birthplace of Gubana is in the Natisone Valleys, in the eastern part of Friuli, right on the border with Slovenia.
The cake has been known since the 14th century when, according to the sources, it was served to Pope Gregory XII in Cividale del Friuli.
The word gubana seems to derive from the Slovenian word guba which means fold.
When do we bake Gubana?
Gubana is usually baked around Christmas (here in Friuli-Venezia Giulia it is more loved than Panettone and Pandoro), around Easter, or for any other important occasion. It is a symbol of wealth and in ancient times it was considered a good luck charm.
Today Gubana is a cake that is served all year round, but if I had to combine it with a season it would certainly be winter. Yeast dough and dried fruit have exactly the taste of a cold afternoon near the fogolâr (fireplace in Friulano).
The Gubana traditional recipe
For centuries Gubana has been a recipe told from mouth to mouth, made up of a few precise ingredients and a lot of “sintiment” (improvisation). And as such it must be handed down and “fixed” as you go. The one you find below is the basic recipe of Gubana but only time will decide the recipe of your family.
In the meantime, Stefano and I imagine our Gubana cooling on the windowsill of the imaginary hut with the mountains in the background and friends ready to arrive.
For the Dough
For the filling
For the coverage:
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and warm it.
- Pour the yeast, flour, vanilla, and sugar into a bowl and mix. Always stirring, add the lukewarm milk and grappa.
- In a separate dish, beat the eggs with the lemon zest. When the eggs are lightly whipped, add little by little to the mixture and mix well.
- Shape into a ball and leave to rise in the oven for at least 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and knead until it has melted. Then add the butter in small pieces and continue to knead. It is best to work the dough by pulling it to activate the gluten and leavening.
- The dough will be very moist and sticky, form a ball as best as possible, and leave to rise again for at least two hours (preferably three).
- After an hour of leavening, check the dough to make sure it is rising well, if this is not the case, knead it a little longer and put it back to rest.
- While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filling.
Soak the raisins in the Marsala for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the walnuts and pour them into a large bowl. If you want you can also add almonds.
- Melt the butter in a pan and add the breadcrumbs. Toast for 5 minutes, when it has cooled, pour it together with the walnuts. Chop the pine nuts and add them to the mixture.
- Drain the raisins and chop some, then add it and the Marsala to the filling. Also add the egg yolks, honey, and orange and lemon zest.
- Add the cocoa and the chopped amaretti then whip the whites until stiff and incorporate them into the mixture from bottom to top.
- When the leavening is complete, roll out the dough to about half a centimeter thick, giving it the shape of a rectangle. Spread the filling on the dough leaving a border of about 2 cm which will be brushed with a little egg. Roll everything up starting from the longest side, tightening well.
- Once the Gubana “salami” is formed, wrap it around itself until it forms a snail and place it in the mold.
- Leave to rise in the oven for an hour and a half, then remove from the oven and turn it on at 150°.
- Brush the surface with beaten egg and brown sugar. Bake only when the oven is at temperature.
- Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven to give a second brushstroke of egg and sugar. Bake for a further 25 minutes.
Let it cool and serve by wetting your slice of Gubana with as much grappa as you want.
Is the kneader necessary?
Not necessarily. After taking the first photo, all the other images you see are of a “handmade” Gubana.
Obviously, the kneader mixer will make it easier for you to reach the most elastic and easier-to-work pasta.
Funny things about Gubana
- The filling of Gubana is so rich that in Friuli Venezia Giulia the expression “being as full as a gubana” is used when you have eaten too much.
- The @ in Friulian is called “gubanute” little gubana.