September means back to school; therefore Cucina Conversations girls and I (what’s Cucina Conversations? Head to the first post, and you’ll discover!), we chose merenda as this month’s topic.
Merenda is an Italian ritual of enjoying a snack – it could savoury or sweet – in the middle of the morning and the afternoon, and every Italian grew up enjoying this special break. The origin itself of the name means ‘meritare’ (deserve), and that’s exactly something you eat after some hours of lessons or studying, and so you deserve it.
When I was a child and I was used to spend a lot of time together with my paternal grandma, one of my favourite merenda was pane, burro e zucchero (bread, butter and sugar) or pane, burro e marmellata (bread, butter and jam). Sometimes, not very frequently but with great appreciation, my nonna came to my house with a tray full of a rustic sweet treat typical of my region: Pan Meino, or Pan Mejn as my nonna used to call it.
This typical treat from Lombardy owes its name to millet, since in the past this grain was used to bake bread. As the time passed, millet was substituted with corn flour and pan meino became something nutrient and sweet, traditionally prepared for San Giorgio, the 23rd of April, the day when shepherds and diarymen made agreements. I suspect that it was prepared right in that period, also to end the corn flour they had stocked up before summer started, a season where insects and high temperature could damage the quality of flour.
With the same no-waste spirit, I finished the last small batch of corn flour (Marano variety) I had bought last year, and I prepared these pan meino following the same recipe of my nonna.
Ingredients for about 10 pieces:
150 g corn flour, finely ground
100 g flour
100 g soft butter
100 g sugar
7 g baking powder (about two teaspoons)
a pinch of salt
1.Combine soft butter together with sugar, until you get a creamy texture. Add the eggs and mix well.
2.Add both flours, the baking powder, and at the end, a pinch of salt. Do not overmix it, just the necessary to get a sticky batter.
3.Create about 10 balls, of 5 cm diameter, and place them well apart on a baking tray covered by baking sheet.
4.Bake at 180°C for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool down and sprinkle with icing sugar.
For other Cucina Conversations’ recipes of this month:
– Rosemarie, Turin Mamma: Amaretti Morbidi
– Marialuisa, Marmellata di Cipolle: Vegetable charcoal sandwich
– Flavia, Flavia’s Flavors: Tramezzini
– Francesca, Pancakes and Biscotti: Pizza Bianca
– Lisa, Italian Kiwi: Pasticciotti
– Carmen, The Heirloom Chronicles: Pizzette Montanare
This post is also available in: Italian