With the Bologna Certosino (Chartreuse cake) I want to introduce you to a typical Christmas cake of Bologna cuisine, with almonds, pine nuts, unsweetened chocolate and candied fruit. It is almost unknown out of Emilia-Romagna region: sadly, the fame of many regional cakes is clouded by industrial products, which I am not a great fan of.

This cake is called panspeziale (apothecaries’ bread) – a kind of gingerbread, since in Middle Age it was created and baked by apothecaries (speziali).

Later, the Bologna Chartreuse friars began to bake it, and it was named after them. Other scholars believe the origin of his name is due to “special bread” (pan spzièl ) in Bologna dialect.


After careful historic researches, in the summer of 2003, Bologna delegation of Academy of Italian Cuisine deposited at Bologna Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, the official recipe of Certosino.

This one, nevertheless, is not the canonic recipe but my mum’s, since that, like in all families, there is always the addition of little personal touches.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes | Yield: Makes 8-10 servings.



  • ¾ cup (100 g.) whole almonds, peeled
  • ¾ cup (100 g.) pine nuts
  • 1 cup (100 g.) dried figs, in chunks
  • ¾ cup (100 g.) raisins
  • 1-cup (100 g.) walnuts
  • 7 oz (g. 200) diced candied fruit mix
  • 21 oz. (g. 600) whole candied fruit (orange, cherries, cedar)
  • 1-tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1-teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups (250 g.) pastry flour
  • ½-cup (100 g.) white sugar
  • ¾ cup (80 g.) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-teaspoon baking soda
  • Tepid water



Heat the oven, 350 F. (180 C.)

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, adding the diced mixed fruit, except the candied ones which must be left in a whole.

Pour the mixture in a baking pan, previously covered with parchment. Use the candied fruits to decorate the top of the mix and bake it for 40 minutes at 350 F. (180 C.).

Check with a wooden toothpick if it is cooked. If the stick is still wet, add 10 minutes.

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