Rarely have so many stories been written or tales told about a simple mixture of almonds, butter and sugar. But Frangipane or Frangipani has had more than a fair share.
One of the most repeated tales takes place in the year 1212. It is about St. Francis of Assisi, and his friendship with Lady Jacoba di Settesoli, widow of the knight Gratiano Frangipani. The Frangipani’s were a powerful Roman baronial family that dominated the Roman political scene from the 11th to 12th century. As custom in Italy at that time, last names were given to distinguish people by profession or deed. It was written that an ancestor had saved the people of Rome from famine by giving them bread. Thus the name, Frangi was thought to come from the verb “frangere”, to break, and “pane” meaning bread.
Lady Jacoba was extremely devout, was noted for her generosity, and often gave lodging to Francis when he was in Rome. Francis came to call her Brother Jacoba in recognition of her piety. While staying at her home, he of course, had to eat, and one of his favorite things was a sweet she would concoct from almonds and sugar. Many years later it was called “Frangipane” in honor of this history.
Today, most recipes have the addition of eggs and butter, but we still use the name Frangipane. The recipes you will find on this website will use at times, almond paste, along with ground almonds, and differing amounts of butter, sugar, eggs and Marsala or Rum. It is a wonderful concoction with many uses in pastries from all over Europe, and is steeped in tales of ancient times.
Try it in this delicious recipe!Apple & Frangipane Tart