This presnitz recipe hails from Friuli Venezia Giulia in northern Italy. A combination of dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, citrus peel, cinnamon and rum are enrobed in puff pastry before being coiled into a spiral and baked. A wonderfully festive cake that's full of warming flavours.

First published in 2018

Presnitz is originally from Castagnevizza (Kostanjevica na Krasu), a town which is now just over the Italian border in Slovenia but not far from the Friuliian town of Gorizia. The recipe is found in the cuisine of the provinces of Trieste and Gorizia. It’s said that it was first prepared for the Emperor of Austria in the early nineteenth century, who would give out the cake – then known as the Princess’s Prize (preis prinzessin) which became corrupted into presnitz. It is worth noting however that there is a town, now in the Czech Republic, called Pressnitz which could be the true origin.

This cake is reminiscent of winter delicacies made all over central and northern Europe which means it makes an excellent addition to any Christmas table. It can be made with homemade or shop-bought puff pastry, which should be rolled thinner than usual baking so it won’t puff up so much during cooking.




  • 75g of raisins
  • 75g of sultanas
  • 100ml of rum
  • 150g of walnuts
  • 150g of almonds
  • 50g of pine nuts
  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 100g of breadcrumbs
  • 150g of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g of candied peel, (mixed)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g of butter, melted
  • 300g of puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten for egg wash


Soak the raisins and sultanas in the rum for 1 hour, then drain and reserve the rum
Preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Put the walnuts, almonds, pine nuts and chocolate in a food processor and pulse a few times to roughly chop them into small pieces
Transfer the nuts and chocolate to a bowl. Add the drained raisins and sultanas, breadcrumbs, sugar, cinnamon, candied peel and orange and lemon zest, then stir together with a wooden spoon
Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture along with the melted butter and a couple of teaspoons of the reserved rum. The mixture should have the consistency of a paste. If it’s too loose, add some more breadcrumbs to adjust
Roll the pastry out into a rectangle roughly 50x20cm. Trim the edges with a sharp knife so they are straight
Place the mixture along one edge of the pastry and roll up to form a sausage. Paint a little beaten egg yolk along the opposite edge to seal the sausage
Close the ends of the sausage by folding the pastry under, then roll the sausage into a spiral shape
Paint the spiral with the beaten egg yolk and bake for 40 minutes until golden and crisp
Allow to cool a little, then cut into slices to serve

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Luca Marchiori is a food writer, recipe developer and food historian. His blog Luca’s Italy is all about discovering authentic Italian food and sharing the recipes that Italians really eat.

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