What is Tiliccas?
Tiliccas or Caschettas are a sweet dish from the Sardinia but are particularly originated from Mamoiada, a village in Barbagia. It is presented to families who are going through sorrows and bereavement. It is believed bestowing this dish to the families will ease their mourning pains and let St. Abbot Anthony comforts them.
Tiliccas are typical sweets made with durum wheat semolina, water, and honey, dried zest of orange or lemon, and toasted almonds. The origin of the dish dates back in 1600 and is used during special occasions, ceremonies, weddings and christening.
Tiliccas were initially called the “veil of the bride” and was accorded as a tribute to beauty. They are baked in different forms including horseshoe, ellipse, crescent and heart. It has a crispy white outer surface and yellow in the interior showing the presence of saffron and smelling like almonds.
In ancient tradition preparing Tiliccas or Caschettas were believed to serve the solemn ceremony to honour St. Antonio Abate, the ritual held in the village community of Mamoiada. The folk bake various sweets including Tiliccas and donate them to the families in grief. This was a ritual belief where it was thought St. Antonio will comfort the family during their sorrow.
Tiliccas are laborious to make and the shape are quite complex to create. The ingredients used are Semolina flour, roasted hazel nuts, orange or lemon peel, honey, cloves, cinnamon, orange blossom water and salt. Knead the flour with warm water, salt and lard till it becomes smooth and firm.
Wrap it in a plastic and leave for an hour or so. For the filling place honey and warm water on a low heat and start adding spices and orange rind in them. Mix the broth with hazelnut flour and let it cool for minutes. Lay the dough in a baking paper and roll it to form a thin rectangle like structure.
Place the filling over the entire rectangular sheet, fold it and pinch the dough at the place of the filling. The same steps are repeated until one obtains a strip with many loops getting a “S” shape.
Now, tenderly roll the strip and get a spiral twirl. Bake the strip in the tray covered with transparent paper at the temperature of 50°C for 20 minutes. The Tiliccas should not get any colour, it should remain white crispy and transparent. The honey used not just sweetens the cookies but also keeps the pastry moist and soft.