San Martino and his sweet horse

San Martino is the saint to whom the Church of Lerino, my country of origin in the province of Vicenza, is dedicated.
When I attended that church, I remember that from an early age we were told the story of this man who became a saint because of his great compassion and humility and this made the paint on the ceiling of the church itself even more magical, depicting the scene for which Martino is become "famous".

In fact, it is said that, having left home on his horse with bad weather conditions, Martino encountered a poor man, cold and poorly dressed and, having no money to give to him, he cut the cloak he was wearing to allow the man to cover himself.
Along his way, after a further stretch, he encountered another poor man so he also deprived himself of the remaining piece of cloak to give it to the needy.
It is said that immediately afterwards the sky cleared and the temperature became milder: so the expression "summer of San Martino", used to indicate the autumn period in which, after the first frosts, beautiful climatic conditions occur again and an increase in temperatures happens.

San Martino died on November 8th but his feast day is November 11th, the date of his burial.

In many regions of Italy, November 11th is symbolically associated with the maturation of new wine (hence the proverb "In San Martino every must becomes wine") but in northern Italy, especially here in Veneto, "do San Martino" means move : in fact until not many years ago all the sharecropping contracts, lease contracts etc. they started (and ended) on November 11th, the chosen date because the works in the fields had already been completed but the weather was still quite good and not very cold to allow families and houses to be moved easily.
It was common to see farming families moving with their loads from one land to another to start new contracts for other people.

"Do San Martin" has remained in the expressions of our elders, so much so that my grandmother still does not say "move" but uses to call it that way.

Years ago, because unfortunately now it is being lost, it was traditional on November 11th to see children walking around the Venetian streets that, making a lot of noise with pots and lids, asking for some money: the shortpastry horse can be found in all the Venetian pastry shops to celebrate the anniversary but lately the availability area has been extended and is easily found even in the neighboring areas. The base is a simple biscuit, but the decoration is really extravagant: usually glazes or chocolate are used as a glue and then sugars, small dried fruits, still wrapped chocolates, fruit jellies are attached to them ...

I prepared it very simple to give it to my grandson and tell him the story of the saint on horseback, if you want to try it I'll leave you with the recipe for my pastry here below.
The pastry for the horse of San Martino

  • soft butter, 150 g
  • icing sugar, 100 g
  • egg 1
  • flour 00, 250 g
  • chocolate, sugar, icing, candy or whatever you want to decorate

Quickly knead the butter with the sugar, then add the egg and finally the well sieved flour.
Form a ball and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
After this time, take it out of the fridge and spread it on a floured surface: you have to get a sheet about half a centimeter high, being careful not to do a strong pressure on the dough but always working it slowly.
Cut with the horse-and-horseshoe mold, then bake in a pre-heated static oven for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees, be careful because they get so early to darken.
When you take them out of the oven they will still be soft: wait for the complete cooling then you can decorate them with chocolate, sugars, icing, candies and whatever you want!