A specialty of the Natisone valleys, near the Yugoslavian border, the gubana was traditionally offered by brides to their wedding guests, as well as being an Easter pastry. Gubana means “rolled up” in the local Slavic dialect and refers to the dough’s being covered with a rich fruit-and-nut filling, rolled up, and baked in a pan in the form of a spiral. When the gubana is sliced, the interior spiral of filling is revealed. There are several versions of the pastry, some made with puff pastry, others with a sweetened yeast dough, as this one is.
This version is based on the gubana Vogrig, one of the best commercial gubane, from Cividale del Friuli, a small town near Udine, well known for the excellence of its gubana. The Vogrig family was one of the first to commercialize the gubana and offer it throughout the year. They began in their native village of Grimacco and in the mid-1960s established a large plant at Cividale. Lucio Vogrig, son of the founder, Attilio, was kind enough to share information on both the lore and preparation of the gubana when I visited his immaculate factory in Cividale.
For the sponge, heat the milk to lukewarm and whisk in the yeast. Pour into the flour and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment about 30 minutes.
For the dough, place the flour, eggs, and yolk in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle and beat on low speed until well mixed. Or combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the sponge and mix until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes by machine. By hand, stir in the sponge as well as possible, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by folding the dough over on itself repeatedly until smooth, about 5 to 6 minutes. Beat or knead in the salt, sugar, then the butter, and continue beating the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl, cover it, and allow it to ferment until double, about 1 hour.
For the filling, chop the almonds and walnuts coarsely and place in a bowl with the pine nuts. In a small saucepan, cover the raisins with water, bring to a boil, drain, and add the grappa. Allow to soak while preparing the rest of the filling. Add the lemon zest and diced orange peel to the nuts. Melt the butter and cook the bread crumbs in it until they are golden, then add to the bowl. Stir in the egg, then the raisins and grappa. Set aside, covered, and keep at room temperature until the dough is ready.
Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. Press the dough well with the palms of the hands to deflate it but do not fold it over, which would render it too elastic to shape. Press the dough into a rectangle about
The gubana keeps well: double-wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Unwrap, cover loosely with a towel, and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
© 1990 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.