05 April 2007

fugassa de pasqua

sweet focaccia for Easter

My mom (chi x'é 'na Veneziana) is visiting and wanted to make an Easter specialty from the Veneto. We looked through a few cookbooks and talked over the properties of the bread she had in mind and came up with this. Buona Pasqua!

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup milk, scalded; 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast; 1/4 cup warm water; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature; 1 teaspoon lemon extract; almost 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; 1 stick unsalted butter, melted; 2 Tablespoons chopped orange zest

plus one egg, beaten with a teaspoon of milk and pearl or sanding sugar for glaze

EQUIPMENT: a 9" springform pan, greased and a Kitchen Aid mixer for kneading

*After scalding the milk, set it aside to cool a bit. Set aside the melted butter to cool off a little, too. In the bowl of the mixer, whisk the yeast and water and let stand for five minutes until yeast is dissolved and mixture is creamy.
*Whisk in the milk, sugar, salt, eggs and extract. Add two cups of the flour and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the butter and beat for a minute or so. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour (up to the total five cups) 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is stiff, but not dry.
*Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.
*Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (ours was out for about four hours).
*Place the dough back in the stand mixer with the dough hook and knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough looks satiny. Add a little flour if needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl.
*Shaping the dough into a smoothish mound with your hands, place it into the greased pan. Make two cuts in the top of the dough to form a cross and let it rise in a warm place covered with a dish towel for about 45 minutes.
*Preheat the oven to 375F.
*Brush the dough with egg and milk mixture and sprinkle it with pearl or sanding sugar. Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes. Pierce it with a cake tester to make certain it's done in the center. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes if necessary.

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