Zelten is a traditional Trentino dessert, typical of the Christmas season. It originates as a homemade sweet bread enriched with dried fruit, candied fruit and other typical local ingredients. Its name comes from the German "selten," meaning "rarely," "sometimes." Zelten is not indeed an everyday food, but a dessert to be prepared only on special occasions - like Christmas. Its origin dates back to the 18th century, but there is no single recipe to which it can be traced. It is particularly popular not only in Trentino, but also in South Tyrol and the Austrian Tyrol, with some variations in its preparation related mainly to the amount of fruit used (poorer in Trentino, very rich in South Tyrol).
To bake Trentino Zelten you need the following ingredients (you can vary the amount of dried fruit to suit your taste, or even eliminate one type if you don't like it):
400 g flour
200 g brown sugar
half glass of milk
150 g butter
60 g nuts
100 g dried figs
30 g pine nuts
60 g almonds
30 g candied citron
30 g candied orange peel
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 sachet of vanillin
1 sachet of baking powder
half glass of rum
Let's start by preparing the dried fruit. Cut the dried figs and walnuts into small pieces, and place them in a bowl along with the almonds, raisins, pine nuts, citron, zest, and Rum. Let them soak for about six hours, or even better overnight.
For the dough, start by combining the butter with the sugar, vanillin and cinnamon. Mix, and when the consistency is uniform, add the eggs; continue to whisk until the mixture appears soft enough.
At this point, add the flour, sachet of baking powder and, gradually, the milk - and while doing so, keep stirring.
When the mixture is soft and even enough, combine all the dried fruit left to rest along with the Rum and mix it all together.
Now you can pour it into two lined baking pans or cake pans, spreading it well along the entire surface.
Decorate to taste with pine nuts, almonds, walnuts and candied fruit (if you like it) and bake at 180° for thirty minutes (cooking time may vary depending on the type of pan you use: we recommend using a toothpick to check internal cooking).