Polenta e Osèi – Bergamo

Don’t be fooled by its name: polenta e oséi is also a delicious cake! 

It’s the most renowned sweet specialty of Bergamo’s cuisine. Made from sponge cake, chocolate, butter, hazelnut creams, and rum.

The sponge cake is covered with yellow marzipan, then dusted with crystals of yellow sugar. The little birds then placed on polenta are made from marzipan covered with a layer of chocolate.

INGREDIENTS: (about 2 kg when finished)

  • For the sponge cake:
  • 390 g sugar
  • 15 g Honey
  • 320 g eggs
  • 150 g yolks
  • 320 g flour
  • 130 g potato-flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of the leaven
  • Chocolate and hazelnut buttercream (for the stuffing):
  • 500 g butter
  • 200 g white chocolate
  • 50 g rum
  • 50 g hazelnut paste

Buttercream (for the covering):

  • 200 g egg whites
  • 50 g sugar
  • 600 g butter
  • 100 cl. alcohol

Other ingredients:

Baked sugar (made with 1kg sugar, 50g glucose, 75g water), Curacao, yellow marzipan, chocolate marzipan (for the birds), yellow sugar in crystals, apricot jam, tiny cubes of candied citron, and cocoa.

How to make Polenta e Osèi – Bergamo:

Sponge cake: Whip sugar with honey, eggs, and yolks and slowly add flour, potato flour, and leaven, previously mixed. When all the mixture is homogeneous, pour in greased molds in the semi-sphere shape—Bake for 20/30 minutes at 200°. To have 1 kg of the finished product, the mold shall have a diameter of about 12/14 cm. Chocolate and hazelnut buttercream (for the stuffing): whip butter with white chocolate previously melted and then add hazelnut paste and rum.

Baked sugar: Moisten sugar with water and add glucose and bake until it reaches 120°.

Buttercream (for the covering): Beat egg whites stiff, add the baked sugar, and cool down the mixture. Add to butter previously whipped.

Arrangement of polenta: Halve the sponge-cake semi-sphere and moisten with a bit of Curacao, stuff with the chocolate and hazelnut buttercream. Replace the half-sphere, spread the upper part with the buttercream, and cover with a yellow marzipan pastry 4/5 mm thick.

Final decoration

Sprinkle polenta with crystals of yellow sugar. In the middle of the polenta, spread apricot jam and add the little cubes of candied citron, alternating them with the chocolate marzipan little birds (their little paws shall always be turned upwards) spread with the remaining apricot jam, and sprinkle with cocoa.

Regional Recipe from Lombardy

Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

You can reach Enrico at enricomassetti@msn.com.