My strawberry prinjolata is an alternative to the more traditional Maltese carnival cake. I have replaced glace cherries with strawberries and made my very own strawberry prinjolata. Maltese carnival is usually celebrated the week before and the week leading up to Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent).
Prinjolata comes from the term prinjol which means pine nut. This is essentially a pine nut cake. It is a traditional cake made in Malta in celebration of the carnival festival. Carnival is a European Christian tradition which is celebrated after the Epiphany and before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. It is a festival of gluttony whereby all forms of celebrations take place before the solomn period of Lent before Jesus Christ dies on the cross.
In Malta carnival began being celebrated during the 15th Century and believed to have been a tradition increasingly celebrated when the Knights of St John arrived in Malta in the beginning of the 16th Century. Today parades, festivals and masquerade balls are held during this period. In addition feasting takes place with the inclusion of the prinjolata. This can be seen all over Malta in dessert shop windows, especially in Valletta. I have never experienced carnival in Malta but will hopefully do so one day.
The prinjolata is traditionally made with pine nuts, glace cherries, citrus peel and either sponge cake, madeira cake or even crushed biscuits. It is then decorated with either meringue, some type of frosting or cream. Chocolate, nuts and glace cherries are also used to decorate the cake. There are many different variations of the prinjolata and I have decided to make mine using strawberries instead of glace cherries. I have also used more almonds than pine nuts in my prinjolata mainly because pine nuts are more expensive and almonds still work just as well. The other variation of the prinjolata is how the filling is prepared. I have mixed all the filling ingredients together. Some variations layer the cake between the wet ingredients. I did try this but preferred the method of mixing everything together. I found the butter cream and meringue mixture too sickly when it was layered between the cake but it is personal preference.
As we do not really celebrate carnival in the UK, I decided to make my prinjolata as a birthday cake for my daughter’s friend who had just recently celebrated a birthday.
I hope you get to try the prinjolata at some point and I do hope to try other variations in Malta one day.
- For the butter cream:
- 225 grams castor sugar
- 175 grams softened butter
- For the meringue:
- 250 grams castor sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- For the remaining filling:
- 200 grams sponge or madeira cake processed in a food processor to resemble crumbs
- 90 grams sponge or madeira cake sliced thinly for the base of the cake
- 100 grams toasted and crushed nuts (I used 40 grams pine nuts and 60 grams flaked almonds)
- 5 strawberries sliced.
- For the topping:
- 200 ml double cream
- 50 grams icing sugar
- 5 strawberries sliced
- 20 grams melted dark chocolate
- Toasted pine nuts and flaked almonds
- A bowl is required roughly the size of 16 cm * 10 cm, clingfilm and some oil.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Leave aside.
- Prepare the meringue by slowly beating the egg whites with an electric beater in a large bowl over a simmering saucepan.
- Slowly add in the castor sugar and beat until white stiff peaks form.
- Finally add in the water and vanilla essence and beat further until well mixed.
- Remove the meringue mixture from the simmering saucepan.
- Mix in the butter cream.
- Mix in all the other filling ingredients except for the sliced cake.
- In the cake bowl grease with oil. Line with cling film. This will help to ease the prinjolata out of the bowl.
- Add in the cake mixture. At the top of the filling line with the sliced cake. This will form the base of the prinjolata.
- Place in the fridge overnight.
- The following day take the bowl out of the fridge.
- Pry the filling out of the bowl with a butter knife. A dome shaped cake should have formed.
- In a food processor or electric beater whip the cream and icing sugar until a stiff cream is formed.
- Cover the prinjolata with the cream.
- Decorate with almonds, pine nuts, sliced strawberries.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Place the chocolate in a spoon and drizzle over the prinjolata.
- Happy carnival!