Il Buccellato

The Traditional Sweet Bread of Lucca

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    10

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

The older, most elegant part of the city of Lucca, in north-western Tuscany, is surrounded by the old restored Renaissance city walls, so that it is possible to walk or cycle around the entire circumference and enjoy the view from the top of the wall. To make the experience even more pleasurable, each of the four principal sides is lined with a different kind of tree. This sweet bread, which is famously typical of this attractive town, is presented annually there for blessing as part of a special Mass in the city’s cathedral.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/1 lb/4 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 20 g/¾ oz fresh/compressed yeast
  • about 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup tepid water
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 175 g/6 oz caster/superfine sugar
  • 50 g/2 oz/¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 ml/1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 70 g/ oz/½ cup mixed/candied peel and sultanas/golden raisins
  • grated rind of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • oil, for greasing
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg white
  • icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Put a handful of flour in a small bowl and crumble in the fresh yeast. Stirring constantly, trickle in enough tepid water to make a thick paste.
  2. Cover the top of the bowl with clear film or plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until the flour has reacted with the yeast and the mixture has begun to expand.
  3. Grease and flour a 20cm/8in ring mould. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Crush the fennel seeds to a powder in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle.
  4. Put the remaining flour on to a work surface and use your fist to make a hollow in the middle.
  5. Pour the sugar into the hollow, then add the butter, eggs, bicarbonate of soda, fennel seeds, peel, sultanas and lemon rind.

  6. Put the yeasted flour starter into the hollow and roughly work all the ingredients together. Pour most of the remaining water into the hollow and begin to knead the ingredients together until you have an even, elastic dough, adding more water if required. Knead steadily for 10-15 minutes.

  7. Roll out the dough into a cylinder, then turn it into a crown shape by joining the two ends together to form a circle.
  8. Transfer the dough into the prepared ring mould. Mark the surface of the dough by cutting through it with a sharp knife all the way around the circle.

  9. Cover with oiled clear film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  10. Lightly beat the egg white and brush it over the surface, then sprinkle with the icing sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, until light golden. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.