All Saint’s Day traditional Apulian recipe: the grano dei morti

Here’s how to prepare one of Puglia’s typical cakes for the day of the dead

The Italian culinary tradition has some recipes from particular regions that are made specifically at certain holidays. One of these is the one that refers to the cakes of the dead throughout Italy. Italian Traditions will guide you on the discovery of an Apulian original recipe. Its name is colva and it is prepared at this time of the year. We will talk about its origin and the ingredients used to make it. Finally we will present the various steps to follow in order to make this typical Apulian cake.


What is colva?

Colva or grain of the dead is the typical cake that is prepared in Puglia for the celebration of the dead. It is prepared in this region of Italy during the period of the year marked by the celebration of the dead. One of its peculiarities consists in the fact that this cake is not sold in shops and therefore can only be found in the homes of the citizens of this territory. An interesting solution is to prepare it at home following the directions of the traditional recipe. In fact, with the use of the right ingredients you can make this cake at home.

Its origins

This cake is very probably original of the province of Foggia. Its origin recalls an ancient Christian rite. During the ritual that was celebrated at this time of the year, boiled corn was eaten and blessed during the religious service.

A similarity can also be found with a typical Greek cake prepared for the celebration of the dead. Its name is Koliva and is also served during funerals.

The main ingredients


The colva is a rich and tasty cake that is prepared with the use of seasonal ingredients. Even today it is prepared following the ancient traditions and using local products. To prepare this, which is among the most famous cakes made for the day of the dead throughout Italy, the ingredients needed are:

  • 1/2 kg of wheat
  • 150 gr of walnuts kernels
  • 1 bunch of white grapes
  • fruit of a pomegranate
  • dark chocolate in small pieces
  • vincotto.

How to prepare colva

For the preparation of colva certain steps must be followed. First of all, you need to soak the grain the evening before you want to make the cake. The following day you have to boil the wheat in hot and salted water. Now we need to add all the other ingredients. Mix everything carefully adding the vincotto (cooked wine). This is the basic recipe, but variations can be added as desired. Among the most interesting are those that include the addition of hazelnuts, almonds and dried figs.

In Italy every holiday is accompanied by typical recipes that are prepared only during these special occasions. Each Italian region has its typical products that are characterized by the use of local produce. If you want to know other typical regional recipes we recommend reading this article. Now that you know all about colva, one of the most famous cakes for the day of the dead throughout Italy, you just have to try your hand at its preparation.

Main image source: Cucchiarando –
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