When you think about Croatia, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Is it their stunning beaches, fresh lavender fields or Maraschino cherries? Whatever enticing Croatian treat came first, there is one very important one to be remembered, and that is Licitar.
For the next piece in our ‘Made in’ series, we’re going talk about the Licitar and its history, so you can know all about this important part of Croatian identity.
What are Licitars?
Licitars are traditionally a combination of honey dough and wax that is made into a stunning cake. These are not cakes that you would usually picture, but intricately decorated and slim in the base. Importantly, these are so special that they are a part of Croatia and Slovakia’s heritage and are also a traditional symbol of the Croatian capital Zagreb.
These treats are entirely edible; however, eating these intricately decorated baked goods may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you see them. In fact, these treats are also used as ornaments for Christmas trees in Croatian homes.
What are Licitars used for?
Not only for Christmas, these stunning bakes are also of significant, emotional value. Licitars are given to loved ones on special occasions. Valentine’s day is the largest, celebratory holiday of love, which makes sense that these traditional treats are used to express love to loved ones. It was said that receiving a Licitar was more sentimental than a bouquet of roses, so they were well sought after around this period, and from significant others.
The History of Licitars
The history of Licitars dates back to the middle ages around the 16th and 17th Century, where cakes were handmade and richly decorated in wooden moulds, then given as gifts. In the Dinaric Alps region, this cake making grew into a treasured craft, which gradually made its way to Central Europe regions.
The 18th and 19th Century saw Licitar makers as reputable craftsmen, and their products were, interestingly, favourites amongst all social classes.
What is in a Licitar?
A Licitar is not just made like a regular cake. These particular cakes have been formed with time-honoured traditions. The traditional ingredients and method have been passed down through the centuries to create something this special.
The devotion put into these sweet treats is unrivalled, and highly apparent in the finished product.
Though a long and delicate process, the ingredients to make Licitars are really simple things you would find in your cupboard at home.
Honey, flour, eggs, and water, along with natural colours, are the only ingredients used!
The preparation of Licitars is time-consuming, although not in the way you might think.
After the dough is made, it needs around two weeks to rest, as a time to mature. 2 weeks later, it is then the time for the dough to be shaped and baked. There is then more resting, this time for another two weeks while it dries out completely.
After these two weeks, this is when the colouring process begins to create those gorgeous, vibrant colours the Licitar is so well known for. A further two weeks are then used again for more drying.
Now it’s time to decorate!
In true Licitar fashion, theses specific cake decorations are not any usual decorations either. Sure, icing is used, but it is piped in such a stunningly intricate way to create a border and some serious detail, including little flowers. And of course, the little mirror.
Licitars hold a small mirror amongst the decorative icing work as the finishing touch, and this is the only thing inedible out of the whole creation.
Where can I get hold of Licitar?
Traditionally, Licitar could be found being sold at fairs, usually Parish fairs and church festivals. Now, Licitar can be found in most places in Croatia. After gaining such popularity, you can find many things inspired by Licitar, and even plastic versions are available to buy. But, considering how long the originals stay fresh for, support the craft itself as an important part of Croatian identity, and purchase an authentic one from a craftsman at a fayre or stall.
Don’t wait several weeks for your Licitar to be ready! Have a browse of our luxury holiday villas in Croatia to have the best reason to bring these wonderful, authentic souvenirs home.
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