In Erice, Professors Boyd and Gavioli surprised us with a baking class taught by local hometown hero, Maria Grammatico. Maria and her assistants showed us how to make Frutta Martorana, or marzipan fruit. Throughout Sicily, one can find this pastry in various shapes and forms: as bananas, tomatoes, apples, pears, oranges, watermelon, etc. Maria’s recipe called for a kilo of blanched Sicilian almonds, a kilo of granulated sugar, some water, and a bit of vanilla and almond extract. Maria provided us with 50+ year old molds to shape the marzipan dough into fruits. David and Greg, however, took the road less traveled and got creative with their creations.
Once the almond paste was molded, we painted the shapes with a yellow base, then added red, green, and orange as we saw fit.
Maria admired our handiwork.
Since we were traveling days before Holy Week, we frequently saw little lamb-shaped pastries in bakery windows. I learned from Maria that these were also marzipan pastries, called pecorelle pasquali, a favorite in Sicily around Easter time.