It’s not Christmas with a distinctively – flavoured cake which smells of our territory, the Zelten cake! All over Trentino the recipe is different, but typically-Christmas ingredients like candied and dried fruits can’t definitely be missed. Here in Garda Trentino you can find this typical cake in every respectful bakery and patisserie. Every display is a blur of Zelten cakes, each one with its own recipe, because firstly Christmas means tradition, and respect of it.

El Zelten should be served with a classical Vino Santo (a sweet wine from our region), or a sweet Moscato wine, to bring out its strong perfumes of dried fruits.

Being it a rather hearty cake, it is the perfect snack for the little ones when they come back inside after having playing in the cold. They can be restored with a great slice of Zelten cake and some cinnamon – flavoured hot chocolate.

The suggestion for the “grownups”? Serving this unavoidable traditional cake with a good cup of ginger, lemon and local honey herbal tea. This is because both the ginger and the lemon (the Garda Trentino lemons have a unique perfume, have you ever noticed?) help you to digest the rich holiday meals without feeling overburdened.

The tradition says that the Zelten cake must be prepared a bit earlier than Christmas (to “settle” the perfumes, as my nanny used to say), and then given to those we love.

Because Christmas is precisely that: spreading love.

And after having tasted all the sweetness of this rich cake, it’s time for a visit to the Christmas markets in Arco, on until January, 6th, or also to go on a lakefront walk in Riva del Garda (if you have still room in your tummy, have a look at the Di Gusto in Gusto food village, where you could taste some delicacies or drink some good doc wine).

Are you curious about the recipe for the Zelten cake? Here you have it, and don’t forget to tell us if you like it or not!


500gr OO flour

125 gr butter

125gr sugar

5 eggs

50gr nuts

50gr sultanas

200gr dried figs

1 glass of rum or brandy

50gr pine nuts

50gr thin-layered almond (only to garnish)

50gr candied orange and citron

candied cherries to garnish

1 sachet dried yeast

grated zest

water or milk to brush


Crush the dried figs, nuts, pine nuts, add half of the sugar, the sultanas and the candied orange and citron. Pour it with some rum and let it rest all night long.  Melt the butter in a bain-marie, beat the eggs with the remaining sugar and add flour and yeast. Mix it long. Add the other ingredients and put it into the buttered cake pan, garnishing with the almonds and also some nutmeats if you like. After 3/4 of the cooking time (40mins total, 180°), brush the surface with a mixture of yolk and sugar, diluted with some water or milk. Garnish with some other candied cherries.