Pan Speziale o Certosino – Bolognese Christmas fruit cake

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This special holiday cake continues to be made by the Carthusian monks of Bologna. It dates back to Pope Benedetto XIV who was born in Bologna and always requested this cake be sent to Rome for the holidays. If wrapped in tin foil and hidden, it will keep for several months.

  • 2/3 C. water
  • 1/2 C. honey
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1T. lemon juice
  • 1 2/3 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 C chopped bitter chocolate
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • 1 C. almonds, blanched and chopped
  • 1 C. Mediterranean pinoli nuts
  • 2 C. candied fruit – orange rind, cherries, citron – coated with flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. anise seeds
  • butter


Preheat the oven to 275°F

In a heavy pan melt the honey, salt, sugar and lemon juice with water. Mix all of the dried ingredients and slowly pour in all the liquid honey mixture, stirring until well blended. Pour this mixture into a well buttered tube or springform cake pan and bake for 1 1/2 -2 hours.

Cool on a wire rack and remove from the pan. Decorate with candied fruit or confectioner’s sugar.