Makes 1 Large Ring
Buccellato Taddeucci in Lucca sells the sweet bread that was said to be a favorite of the ancient Roman army and in fact are sometimes made as large as a Roman cart wheel! Bucellato is the standard confirmation gift to children from their grandparents. If you go, get there early to buy one so you won't be disappointed.
1 package active dried yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 F)
1 cup warm milk (110 F)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
6 to 6 1/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon anise seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon fine salt
Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, 2 eggs, sugar, and butter. Stir in two cups of the flour, raisins, anise seeds, and salt. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until a soft ball of dough is created. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and punch it down with your fists. Knead the dough for a few minutes, then roll it out into a 32-inch rope, and bring the ends together to form a ring shape. Place the ring on a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Cover with a clean towel and allow it to rise until almost doubled.
Brush the dough with the remaining egg and bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the buccellato to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Option: To keep the center of the ring open during baking, place a well buttered custard-type dish in the center of the ring. After the bread is baked and cooled, carefully remove the dish.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.
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