After participating in last months Bread Baking Day, which was hosted by Lisa, I decided to do it again this month. The challenge?… bread made with eggs. Hosting this month is Astrid, of Paulchens Foodblog?! (she was also the host of the BBB this month). Spring is a natural for egg breads with many choices of ethnic Easter breads and challah to pick from. I almost went with Paula Peck’s Polish Babka from the The Art of Fine baking, which calls for 16 egg yolks, but had to change direction after realizing I only had 13 eggs and didn’t feel like going out to the store. Instead, an Italian Easter bread, originating in town of Civitavecchia, which is a small port town not far from Rome. The recipe is from The Italian Baker by Carol Field, a wonderful book that would make a great addition to anyones library. I loved how it had port, ricotta, and aniseed in the recipe. As usual, I was not prepared and didn’t have a few of the key elements. Like port. Or Ricotta. I really need to get my act together. Moving on… I do have Calvados (which is a favorite of mine) and I have cottage cheese. Hmmmm, will this work? So I took 1/2 cup golden raisins and soaked them in the calvados about 1 hour before starting this and figured I might as well change it a little more since I was at it. The outcome was a fragrant loaf with a dark, slightly crisp crust with a soft, fluffy interior. Tomorrow’s breakfast= sweet bread french toast!
The original recipe makes 2 tall domed loaves but since that is too much for this small household I have halved the recipe. If you have a digital scale this is the perfect time to use. It is much easier to weigh everything than figuring out what half of 3/4 cup flour is!
2 teaspoons (5 g) active dry yeast
1/4 Cup (60g) warm water
3/8 Cup (50g) bread flour (yes, this is half of 3/4 cup)
Mix the yeast and water together; let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a thick paste. cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.
1 1/2 Cups (210 g) unbleached AP flour
1/8 Cup (25 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (37 g) ricotta, pressed through a fine-meshed sieve (or cottage cheese)
1/4 cup port or rum (or calvados)
1/2 cup golden raisins (soaked in the liquor stated above)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon crushed aniseed
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg white, beaten, for glazing
Place the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and the sponge in the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat for 7 minutes, half on medium, half at high. Add the ricotta, liquor, aniseed, raisins, lemon zest and cinnamon and beat into the dough. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and place on top of the dough. Cover the dough, leaving the butter on top, with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours).
Beat in the butter with the dough hook until smooth,about 5 minutes.
The “dough” at this point is more like sticky cake batter and that is what it should be like. Pour it into a well buttered 2 quart souffle dish. Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise until it reaches the top of the mold, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 400 F 30 minutes before baking.
Brush the top with the egg white. I also sprinkled it with swedish sugar. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F. Bake for an additional sixty minutes until golden brown.