Sicilian Pignolata


Pignolata or pignoccata is an ancient, typically Sicilian cake, but it is easy to find throughout southern Italy at Christmas or Carnival time. Similar to the struffoli of Naples, it is distinguished by its shape of small pine cones.



Pour the sifted flour into a bowl, then add the salt, the caster sugar and the grated orange peel; finally, add the whole eggs.

Knead vigorously by hand to mix the ingredients, then transfer the dough to a floured pastry board and shape it into a compact ball. Wrap it with cling film and leave it to harden in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Then take the dough and divide it into 1 cm wide pieces. Roll up each piece to form loaves and cut them into 1 cm pieces.

Now you can proceed with the cooking. Heat the seed oil in a pan until it reaches about 170 degrees Celsius. Using a skimmer, dip a few chunks at a time into the oil, so as not to lower the temperature of the oil. Fry for about 3–4 minutes then drain the morsels and place them on a tray lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Place the pignolata in a bowl and pour the honey over it while the morsels are still hot, stirring to mix in the honey. Transfer the morsels to a serving dish and decorate with the sprinkles.

A different version of pignolata exists, which dates back to the Aragonese domination in Sicily and is widespread in the eastern part, between Messina and Ragusa.

In the recipe from Messina, which is the most famous, the pignolata is covered with a sweet lemon and chocolate glaze.

☑️ Sicily. Flavours not to be missed

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Duration of preparation


  • 00 flour: 500 g 

  • Whole eggs: 5 

  • Caster sugar: 200 g

  • Honey: 100 g

  • Glass of water: ½ 

  • Pinch of salt: 1 

  • Grated orange peel: 1 

  • Multi-coloured sprinkles, toasted almonds, candied orange: 100 g