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Pepper Bread or Pope's Bread


Makes 2 Small Rounds

Created at the monastery of Corpus Domini during the 15th century, pampepato or pampapato is rich with chocolate, nuts and fruit and is the Christmas bread made in Ferrara. The name, depending on who you ask and how it is spelled, can mean peppered bread (pan pepato) or bread of the pope (pan del pappa). In Ferrara, Duke Borso d'Este served pampepati at a banquet in 1456 and inserted a gold coin in each one. In the Middle Ages they were sent as gifts to the pope. Ferrara even gave an 11-pound pampepato to General Eisenhower during the war. Make this heavy dough in a stand mixer.


3/4 cup slivered almonds

4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Grinding of black pepper

1/2 cup diced candied orange rind

1/2 cup diced candied lemon rind

1/2 cup diced candied citron

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup baking cocoa

1/2 cup sweet cocoa

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted with 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast them for 5 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and set aside.

Place a piece of parchment paper to fit over the baking sheet and set aside.

Blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper together in a large stand mixer. Stir in the orange, lemon, and citron rind. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, cocoas, and water together in a saucepan and stir the ingredients over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the vanilla and pour the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture and combine well. Stir in the almonds.

Remove the dough from the mixer, divide it in half and form 2 domed rounds about 6-inches in diameter. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the breads on a rack.

Melt chocolate in a bowl set over warm water. Stir in the olive oil. Brush the bottom of the breads and allow them to dry before turning over and brushing the top and sides. Allow to dry. Cut into slices to serve with a dessert wine such as Vin Santo.


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