1/2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons
Four 3/5-ounce cakes fresh yeast, crumbled (1/3 cup), or four
1-ounce packages instant dry yeast
9 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or as needed, sifted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 large eggs yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more
for the bowl of dough
1/2 cup Vin Santo, Verduzzo, or other sweet white wine
Grated zest (yellow part only, without the underlying white pith) of
2 large lemons
Grated zest (orange part only, without the white pith) of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
Combine the raisins with the rum in a small bowl and toss to mix.
Let soak, tossing occasionally, while preparing the bread.
In a medium-size saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat to
lukewarm, about 100°F. Pour the warmed milk into a large bowl and
add 1/2 cup of the sugar and the yeast. Stir until they are
dissolved. Add 1 cup of the flour and stir until the mixture is
smooth. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a
warm, draft-free place (such as on top of the refrigerator or in a
gas oven with the pilot light on) until frothy. (If it doesn’t get
frothy, that means the yeast is no longer active and you will have
to start again with fresh yeast.)
Stir the dough with a fork to deflate it, then let it rise and froth
two more times, stirring it down thoroughly and covering it again
after each time. Depending on the environment, these three risings
can take from 20 minutes to 45 minutes each.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle
attachment, whip 2 of the whole eggs, 2 of the yolks, and the
remaining 1/2 cup sugar together at medium speed until foamy and
pale yellow. Add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter, the wine, zests,
salt, and vanilla. Beat until only small pieces of butter remain.
Scrape the yeast mixture into the mixer bowl and beat until blended.
Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and reduce the
speed to low. Add 5 cups of the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time,
beating until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Wait for each cup of
flour to be incorporated before adding the next and stop the machine
occasionally to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the sides and
bottom of the bowl into the dough. The dough will be quite sticky;
form it into a rough ball, clean the sides of the bowl, and cover
the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm,
draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
Return the bowl of dough to the mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Mix the dough at medium-low speed until deflated. Add the remaining
4 egg yolks and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter and beat until
incorporated. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour — about 2
cups — to form a firm but slightly sticky dough, stopping the mixer
occasionally to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the bottom of
the bowl into the dough. Add the raisins and rum and mix until
incorporated. Dough will be quite wet and sticky at this point.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough,
adding as much of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent
the dough from sticking to your hands and to the table, until the
dough is smooth, soft, and only very slightly sticky if left to rest
Place the dough in a large lightly buttered bowl and turn the dough
to butter all sides of it. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and
set the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in
bulk, 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the environment.
Turn the risen dough out onto the floured work surface and knead
until deflated. Cut the dough into three equal pieces and knead each
into a ball, gathering and pinching the seam side of the dough
together to form as smooth a ball as possible. (These formed loaves
can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.
Allow extra time for refrigerated loaves to rise in the following
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place two loaves on one
of the baking sheets, leaving as much space between them and the
edges of the pan as possible. Place the third loaf in the center of
the other baking sheet. With a pair of kitchen scissors, make three
1 1/2-inch-deep, 3-inch long intersecting cuts that meet at the
center to form a six-pointed star pattern on the rounded top of each
loaf. The cuts should be quite deep — at least halfway through the
loaf — to allow the dough to rise up from the center and form the
traditional crests on the loaf. Cover the loaves lightly with
kitchen towels and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until
doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Whisk the
remaining whole egg with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the
water until very smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Brush the pinze
with this egg mixture, return them to the oven, and continue baking
until very deep golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of
the loaves comes out clean, about another 20 minutes.
Cool the pinze completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 3 loaves.
From Lidia's Italian Table