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The “Pupazza Frascatana” (Frascati Puppet), a biscuit steeped in history and legend

Frascati puppet is a playful find or an ancient tradition?

Some say the Frascati Puppet is a playful creation from the 1960s, others trace it back to ancient times. Let’s start with certainties. The biscuit doll represents a young nursemaid with three breasts: two for milk and one, central, for wine. So this voluptuous and generous girl would nurse the children of Frascatan women working in the fields. By “fields” in Frascati we mean vineyards. The goodness of wine would pacify the children, to the satisfaction of both nursemaids and working mothers. Thus, wine, a characteristic product of the area, serves as both economical and nutritional sustenance for families. Note: we strongly advise against giving wine to children, of course; this is merely the tale of a strong tradition in the Castelli Romani. So deeply felt and rooted that the Ministry of Agricultural and Food has included it in the list of Italian Agri-Food Products that valorizes traditional local products.

The charming souvenir of a trip to the castles crosses borders

We mentioned that the most common representation of the Frascati Puppet is as a biscuit. Packaged in transparent cellophane to display its beauty, typically 20-30 cm in size. So various types of these biscuits can be found in grocery stores in Frascati and surrounding areas. Similarly, local artisans offer small treasures, ceramics, and other items painted with the young nursemaid.

The shortcrust biscuit closely resembles the gingerbread and Christmas sweets of Northern Europe made from flour, honey, and spices. As they are classic English Gingerbread, Norimberga’s Lebkuchen, and Sweden’s Pepparkakor.

The fame of the Frascati Puppet has reached global recognition. So there’s a Facebook group dedicated to sharing places and situations where the sweet doll is given as a charming souvenir. Even reaching Tallahassee’s Mayor during a wine-focused event in the capital of Florida.

Ingredients for a 20 cm Frascati Puppet

  • 125g of honey, any flavor (wildflower, acacia, orange, etc.)
  • 50ml of oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • All-purpose flour, as needed
  • Spices (such as ginger, cinnamon, etc.) if desired
  • Wheat grains or other decorations for sweets

The basic recipe and delightful taste variations

In a saucepan, melt honey and oil over low heat. Once well combined and brought to a boil, remove from heat. Add a pinch of salt, any desired spices, and slowly sifted flour. How much flour? Use your judgment: the dough should become firm enough to be worked by hand and rolled out. 
Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered, at room temperature for about 10 minutes. After this, roll out the dough evenly to about half a centimeter thick and cut out the Frascati Puppet using the sharp tip of a knife. And now decorate the puppet. Finally bake the biscuit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 140/150 degrees Celsius for about 15/20 minutes or until golden brown.

Moreover the Frascati Puppets are excellent for dipping—let’s say “soaking”—in a good glass of “cannellino” wine. Naturally, Frascati.

With the Blog of Rome and Latium Region Around Rome guides you to discover places and territories for the pleasure of satisfying curiosity and putting culture at the service of people and businesses.
Edited by il NETWORK | text Andrea Franchini  |  photo  Ezio Bocci

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