How we came to meet Nonna Laura is a testament to the importance of what we are doing here at Nonna’s Way. We have received great feedback both from nonnas and their family members, all eager to share their favorite recipes. Recently, we received a call from Franco who wanted us to capture this pizzelle recipe for him. His mother, now passed, used to make it all the time with Laura. And, although he makes them often, Franco says his pizzelle are just not the same. So, he wants to get the recipe right, once and for all. These recipes are more than just directions to make a batch of cookies. They are a link to the past, a hold on memories, and a small way to honour the ones you love by making them for your own children and talking about the ‘good ol’ days’. Thank you Franco for inviting us to share this recipe and introducing us to a couple of wonderful nonnas!
When we arrived, Nonna Laura and her friend, Lucia, were waiting for us so we could watch the pizzelle-making process from start to finish. They make pizzelle together for special occasions. You could feel the strength of their friendship by their laughing and bantering! What’s better than nonna cooking in the kitchen? Many nonnas cooking in the kitchen!
As she proceeded to make the dough, Laura told us that she first came to Canada in 1962. Soon after her arrival, Laura was asked if she wanted to go strawberry picking. She remembers she made $8 on the first day — her first pay! They missed Italy dearly but family and strong friendships got them through. Lucia says that one thing she just did not enjoy in Canada was the bread. She missed the bread from back home and all they could find here was sliced white bread. So she started making her own and continues doing so until this day.
This pizzelle recipe apparently has many slight variations so last year at the Interstate Pratolano picnic, held locally, Franco organized a pizzelle contest! Here we share Nonna Laura’s version.
One of the perks of doing this blog is getting to taste test everything. We had a chance to sample these waffle cookies hot off the irons and they were delicious! Crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. They are great on their own and, typically, that’s how Italians eat them but you could also try them with your favorite jam, fruit, or even Nutella – oh, yeah, for the children of course:)
Symbology and superstitions are part of everyday life for Italians, even in their kitchens. These were most often found at wedding celebrations and the shape is supposed to symbolize two wedding rings joined together.
The irons they are using came from their hometown, Pratola Peligna, and were made by a local forger ‘Mastro Dino’. Upon request, you could even get your initials monogrammed onto the irons- a lost art for sure. The irons were costly even back then but they last a lifetime. If you don’t have an iron like this, as I’m sure not many of us do, you can use an electric waffle iron.
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 7.5 cups all purpose flour
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup anisette liquor (secret ingredient!)
- Break eggs into a large bowl
- Add sugar to eggs
- Mix with a hand mixer or stand mixer on high for 2 minutes
- Add zest of 1 lemon and mix for another minute
- Add melted butter, scrape down sides and mix for 2 more minutes
- Add anisette and mix by hand to incorporate
- Add 5.5 cups of flour, one cup at a time kneading in between
- Add baking powder and lemon juice to the batter and mix with hands
- Spread 1 cup of flour onto kneading surface and dump batter onto it
- As you gently knead the dough, work the remaining flour into it, half a cup at a time, until it no longer sticks to your hands. Dough should be soft like pizza dough. (You may not need to use all of the remaining 2 cups of flour)
- Bring together into a large round and place into an oiled bowl
- Score a cross into the top of the dough (to ‘bless’ it!) and cover with plastic wrap
- Let it rest for 10 minutes
- Heat up the pizzelle iron(s) to a medium heat on stove top burners
- With a floured knife, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces
- One at a time, form each of the 12 pieces, into a log about 24″ long and then cut into 7 equal pieces. Keep remainder of the dough covered
- Roll each of the 7 pieces, into an 18″ log and fold to make a figure 8 shape (see pictures in post)
- Place figure 8’s onto a clean cloth
- Place figure 8 onto heated pizzelle iron, close tight and flip right away onto the other side if using stove top style
- Open lid to check, when slightly colored flip again
- When other side is done, carefully remove cooked pizzelle and place on clean surface
- Takes about 4 minutes total to cook
- Work only some of the dough at a time and keep the remainder of the dough covered with plastic wrap to keep from drying out.
- When rolling the dough into the logs, sprinkle small amounts of flour onto the work surface if needed to keep the dough from sticking.