The Pan Ducale “Pizza Dogge”

The Abruzzo sweet cake, or “pizza dogge” is the dessert par excellence of the tradition, a cake that is still prepared today on holidays. In the past it was the wedding cake and made for important family celebrations, as simple as life in the country was when weddings were celebrated at home, outdoors in the countryside with  large tables and cooks intent to prepare the banquet working at it 24/7.


It was tradition that during the Abruzzo wedding  parties, “pizza dogge” was prepared by the close relatives of the spouses. The cake was obviously enormous: depending on the number of guests, the sponge cake could measure 50 centimeters in diameter and 20 centimeters in height, it was divided into five layers and for the filling cooked grape jam was used as was chocolate cream, almond paste, custard and a white icing cover was prepared with egg whites, butter and powdered sugar. The decoration was silver confetti and a white paper sheet with small folds that covered the edge.


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The official recipe of the Abruzzo sweet cake? Who knows. Every family, every home, every province of Abruzzo has its own version and preserves it with care and attention. The grandmothers and mothers transfer their knowledge and experience to the new generations who, in turn, keep the recipes as if they were precious relics. Today we want to give you a version of the “Pizza dogge” of the city of Atri, which we jealously preserve, with the use of Pan Ducale as a basis instead of the classic Pan di Spagna. An original variant of this historic cake that joins the uniqueness of the Duchi D’Acquaviva dessert. A special dessert made by the expert hands of Maria Rosaria Pavone, founder of the company and skilled pastry chef.


A pack of Pan Ducale of 300 or 450 gr

For the decoration

Grains of Hazelnuts or Almonds 100 g

For the custard

Yolks 2

Sugar 150 g

Whole Milk 500 ml

Flour 80 g

Lemon (peel) 1

Cinnamon Powder q.b.

For the chocolate custard

Yolks 4

Sugar 300 g

Milk 1 l

Flour 160 g

Lemon (peel) 1

Cinnamon Powder q.b.

Dark Chocolate 150 g

For the rum bath

Water 200 ml

Sugar 100 g

Rum 1 small glass

For the Alchermes bath

Water 200 ml

Sugar 100 g

Alchermes 1 small glass


For the bath:

For the wet rum: in a saucepan heat the water with the sugar until it is well melted. Allow the syrup to cool well then add the rum. Proceed in the same way for the alchermes bath, or if you prefer to speed up the steps, you can prepare the syrup of water and sugar all together then divide it into two parts and add to each of the corresponding liqueurs.

For the custard:

For the custard HERE you will find all the explanations to prepare it but please refer to the doses indicated above. Pour the milk into a saucepan with the lemon peel (without the white part) and a pinch of cinnamon and bring it to a boil. Turn it off and let it cool. Meanwhile, work the egg yolks with sugar in order to obtain a homogeneous cream. Sift the flour and add it little by little to the eggs. Remove the lemon peel from the milk and then add it, pouring it a little at a time and slowly making sure that no lumps are formed to the mixture of eggs, sugar and flour. Return the saucepan over the heat and cook the cream over low heat until it thickens. Proceed in the same way for the chocolate custard: when the cream is cooked add the grated dark chocolate (sometimes grandmothers used to prepare a few spoonfuls of hazelnut cream instead of dark chocolate).

Assemble the cake:

Cut the Pan Ducale into slices. Place the first slice as a base on a serving dish and wet it with the rum. Spread the custard on the surface. Sprinkle the second slice on both sides with the alchermes and spread the chocolate custard keeping a good portion to cover the cake. Wet the third slice with rum on both sides. Cover the whole cake with the remaining chocolate custard, leveling it well with a spatula. Decorate the cake with the chopped hazelnuts.

Store in the refrigerator at least ten hours before serving.

And finally, as Maria Rosaria always recommends: “Add to the mixture so much love and desire”

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