In Colombia, a "pionono" refers to a basic pastry dough made of equal volumes of flour, eggs, and sugar, forming a thin sheet of sponge cake. It is filled and rolled into a cylinder, which is then decorated for presentation enhancement. Based on this sponge cake, you can also make sweet, savory, and semi-sweet piononos.
This small cake has a rather unique history; its origins are from Spain, traditionally made in Santa Fe. It was named by its creator, Ceferino, in honor of Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono in Italian pronunciation) for proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
After introducing this recipe to the market, its texture, taste, and aroma quickly became a hit, rapidly popularizing it amongst the populace. This led to the expansion of that family business which has been sustained for over 120 years, still holding onto the original recipe.
I've brought you this recipe thanks to my aunt, who had the opportunity to visit Granada, Spain a few months ago. There, she got to try this traditional dessert and absolutely loved it. She then embarked on a quest to learn its ingredients and secrets. If she couldn't stay there to enjoy these delightful piononos, at least she'd learn how to prepare them at home. And she did! Upon her return to Colombia, she made piononos for the whole family, and let me tell you, she was right - the recipe is absolutely delicious.
This inspired me to share the recipe, and I hope all of you are encouraged to try it at home. The only secret? Prepare it with lots of love and care.
How do you achieve a fluffy and soft sponge in homemade piononos?
To achieve a fluffy and soft sponge for homemade piononos, it's crucial to adequately whisk the eggs, sugar, and honey for 7 minutes. This process incorporates air into the mix, resulting in a lighter sponge. Also, when adding flour, do it in two or three parts, gently folding with a spatula to retain the incorporated air.
How to get the perfect consistency for the syrup to soak the sponge?
To achieve the right syrup consistency, boil a mixture of 100g of sugar and 100g of water in a pot. Once boiling, remove from heat and set aside. This syrup will sufficiently moisten the sponge without oversaturating it.
Any tips on preparing the pastry cream?
When making the pastry cream, mix the eggs with water, and combine sugar with cornstarch until smooth. Heat the mixture on low, and once it starts to thicken, let it boil for a few seconds. Turn off the heat and let it rest. Ensure the pastry cream doesn't boil for too long, or it might curdle.
How to maintain the shape of homemade piononos when cutting?
After soaking the sponge in syrup and spreading it with pastry cream, carefully roll up the sponge and cut into servings using a sharp knife with gentle motions. This prevents them from falling apart or losing shape.
How to caramelize sugar to give a special touch to homemade piononos?
After cutting the piononos into servings and placing a dollop of pastry cream on each, sprinkle sugar on the cream and use a kitchen torch to caramelize it. This will add a delightful crispy touch to the homemade piononos.
Tips and tricks for perfecting your homemade piononos
- Use baking paper greased with butter to ease the handling of the sponge and prevent sticking.
- Allow the sponge to cool completely before soaking it in syrup and spreading with pastry cream to avoid tearing.
- If you don't own a kitchen torch, you can caramelize sugar using your oven's grill but keep a close eye to prevent burning.
Common mistakes when making homemade piononos and how to avoid them
- Not whisking the egg, sugar, and honey mixture enough can result in a dense, heavy sponge.
- Overheating the pastry cream can cause it to curdle or separate.
- Cutting piononos with a blunt knife or with abrupt motions can deform them.
Similar recipe recommendations
Guava Rolls: These delightful sponge cake rolls filled with guava share the sponge preparation and rolling technique with homemade piononos. They're a fantastic choice for those who love fruity and tropical flavors.
Coconut and Dulce de Leche Tart: This recipe uses ingredients similar to homemade piononos, like eggs, sugar, and flour, but incorporates shredded coconut and dulce de leche to craft a delicious tart. It's perfect for those seeking a variant with different yet equally delightful flavors.
Queen's Arm: Another rolled dessert akin to homemade piononos. It's a fluffy sponge filled with pastry cream or dulce de leche. You can use the same sponge base from the homemade piononos recipe and simply change the filling.
For the pastry cream:
- 4 eggs
- 50 g sugar
- 15 g cornstarch
- 90 g water
For the syrup:
- 100 g sugar
- 100 g water
For the sponge:
- 2 medium eggs
- 40 g sugar
- ½ teaspoon of honey
- 40 g flour
- For the pastry cream, mix the eggs with the water, and combine sugar with cornstarch until there are no lumps.
- Slowly heat the mixture in a pot until it starts to thicken, then let it boil for a few seconds. Turn off the heat and set aside to rest.
- For the syrup, combine water and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Set aside.
- Now, for the sponge, using a mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar, and honey for 7 minutes.
- Then add the flour in two or three parts while gently mixing with a spatula.
- Gradually add the flour in two or three parts, gently folding with a spatula.
- Grease baking paper with butter and spread the mixture on it. Preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F) and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove and let cool.
- Once cool, soak in syrup, and then spread with pastry cream.
- Carefully roll up the sponge and cut into servings.