On the 9th October we celebrate Valencian Community Day commemorating the arrival of James I in the city of Valencia following the treaty reached with the muslims. To celebrate this city arrival, women offered the conquerers handkerchiefs filled with fruit and it is for this reason that each year; coinciding with Saint Dionis, the valencians celebrate their love and appreciation with this wonderful and sweet tradition using marzipan in the form of fruit and vegetable shapes from the orchards, representing one of their most valued treasures.
This celebration presents us with the perfect opportunity to cook with our children and have them as partakers in this entertaining family activity, to which we can also invite ours friends, depending on the size of our kitchen!
Apart from having fun making and decorating these Saint Donis sweets, it is a moment to socialise and share Valencian traditions in a group and then share it with the family
We also take advantage of working with colours with the little ones whilst making the different shapes. We leave you with some suggestions to choose from:
Orange: pumpkins, carrots, mandarins, oranges and peaches.
Yellow: bananas, lemons or corn.
Red: watermelon, tomatoes, cherries or strawberries.
Green: Pears, apples, broad beans, lettuce, figs, grapes or cabbage leaves.
Brown: potatoes or coconuts
White: mushrooms, celery and potatoes to which we can add a bit of cinnamon.
Tip: if you wish to achieve some more realistic shapes and make it even more entertaining, use a paint brush to give your fruit and vegetables that artistic touch. Wet the paint brush in edible colourants and let your imagination go wild…. And with the end of the brush you can make grooves and dots (to lemons, strawberries, pumpkin, cabbage, lettuce).
The marzipan is very easy to prepare. Also, this recipe we are giving you today does not require the oven given that Saint Dionis fruits do not need to look like that golden Christmassy marzipan.
We need three key ingredients, almonds Marcona, icing sugar and egg white (although we can replace this with syrup and a touch of lemon juice for those with intolerances).
For our first batch we can use 400gr of almonds, 200gr of sugar and 2 egg whites (alternatively 120ml of water and some drops of lemon juice to make the syrup also adding 200gr of sugar).
We need to grind the almonds, until it releases all the oil leaving a smooth dough which is better worked with if left to rest wrapped in clingfilm for a period of 24hours in the fridge; that is if you have a chance but it is not absolutely necessary.
The icing sugar can be made at home if you happen to have a powerful food processor otherwise you can buy it in any supermarket.
The egg white which helps it give that smooth texture and bind together all the ingredients leaving the dough in a playdough like paste can be achieved by separating the egg whites from the eggs ( something the children will very much enjoy doing).
We remind you that you have the option of replacing the egg with a syrup made out of icing sugar, water and some drops of lemon juice.
Once we have gathered all the ingredients in a bowl we knead with our hands until we have achieved a smooth texture.
Once we have a loose texture, that is not sticky, we can separate it in small balls to which we will then make a hole in the middle to add the colourant, either in drops or paste to achieve the desired colours.
If the dough is sticky we just have to add some more icing sugar, just as we would with flour when making pizza dough.
Lastly we just have to let our creativity flow and have lots fun.
If you fancy sharing with us on Facebook, photos or videos of your ´mise en scene´on Facebook, we would be delighted.