Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins. Pandolce is a soft, fragrant bread, just mildly sweet and freckled with raisins. It is great for breakfast, tasted or slathered in jam, and always present on our Easter breakfast table.
Song of the day: "home" - morgxn ft. WALK THE MOON
Easter is approaching fast and I am starting to think of recipes that are usually traditional for Easter in Italy. My mom's handwritten recipe books are a treasure of recipes: could you beleive that for many of them, my mom does not even remember where they come from?
Pandolce: Pan(e)=Bread Dolce= Sweet
Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins, is something you would easily find on an Easter Sunday breakfast table in many Italian families. Simple, beautifully rustic, mildly sweet, it is the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee and other sweet and savory delights.
This Pandolce triggers memories of country days long gone, where the smell of freshly baked bread and sweets permeated the alleys. All the while kids played loudly, and women in aprons, strong hands, and big smiles chitchatted while working away in their kitchens.
Although simple to make, Pandolce is not a fast baking project, because, as a yeast bread, you have to give the dough time to rise. Twice.
Whenever I can, I prefer to use fresh yeast, otherwise called baker's yeast, or compressed yeast, but you can also use dry yeast. Fresh yeast has no artificial additives; it should be kept in the fridge and it lasts for up to 4 weeks.
- For active dry yeast, you generally need to use half the quantity of fresh yeast. Active dry yeast must be hydrated in warm water/milk before being incorporated into a dough.
- For instant dry yeast, you need to use ¼ of the quantity of fresh yeast. Instant yeast can be incorporated into the dough without first rehydrating it; however, it is sensitive to cold temperatures.
To me, kneading is therapeutic. If kneading by hand, lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. While kneading, at the first stages, the dough will be quite sticky. Try to avoid adding extra flour. It will become less sticky the more you knead it. A bench (pastry) scraper can be helpful. In the end, the dough has to feel smooth and elastic.
Of course, if you use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, it will take less time and the hook will do all the work for you.
Following the instructions on my mom's book, I have made a braid with the dough. You could make more complex weaves, or close the braid to form a wreath. In order to do the braid, I cut the dough ball into three parts, which I consequently rolled into 3 ropes, each about 40 cm long, then I braided them to form this bread.
I hope you are among the raisins lovers, like me. Here, raisins give a delightful sweet note that makes the bread perfect for pairing with butter and jams.
Bring it to the table for an energetic breakfast, to start the day off right, or even as a snack, when the sweet craving hits. However, Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins is also excellent on a cheese platter, accompanied by seasoned cheeses and honey.
It lasts for a few days, and when it starts to lose its softness, it is outstanding toasted, or to make incredibly delicious French toast.
This Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins, is a traditional treat people in Italy would eat during the Easter holidays. Not only Easter Sunday, but also Pasquetta, Easter Monday, when Italians would pack it for a picnic outdoors.
Make it for your family, or if you're hosting an Easter brunch. It looks impressive on the table and it tastes absolutely exquisite! The aroma for us Italian says Easter, and the rumble in our stomachs means we can't wait to cut a piece and slather it with butter or jam! Once you have experienced this Pandolce, Sweet Braided Bread with Raisins, there will never be an Easter without it!
- 500 g flour 0, 00, or all-purpose
- 25 g fresh baker's yeast (12.5 g active dry yeast; 6 g instant yeast)
- 100 g sugar (granulated or cane sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- the grated zest of 1 organic lemon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg, organic free range
- 80 g melted butter
- 250 ml lukewarm milk
- 125 g raisins
- 1 egg, lightly beaten, to brush on top
- Sift the flour in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast in, mix, and make a well in the center.
- Add the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, egg, the lukewarm melted butter. Mix, incorporating the flour on the sides.
- Slowly start pouring the milk, and mix to incorporate all the flour.
- Once a 'raggedy' dough starts to form, pour it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes (or finish kneading it in the stand mixer, about 5-6 minutes).
- Put the dough back in the floured bowl, cover with a wet towel and let rise for 1 hour away from air draughts (I cover it with a towel and put it in the oven, turned off with the light on).
- Put the raisins in a small bowl, add water just enough to cover them, let sit for 5-10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
- After the 60 minutes rising time, punch down the dough, add the raisins and knead it again to incorporate.
- Form a ball with the dough, then divide into 3 parts, more or less the same size (I used a scale).
- With your hands, roll each dough ball into a rope, about 40 cm long. Put the 3 ropes in front of you and starting from the top, start to braid the ropes, sealing the ends together.
- Transfer the braid to a rectangular baking pan lined with parchment paper and set back to rise, covered, away from air draughts, for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
- After the 30 minutes, brush the lightly beaten egg on top of the bread.
- Place on the lower rack of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, covering the top of the bread with foil paper if you see it is getting too dark (I covered it at about half the cooking time).
- Take out of the oven and let cool on a rack.
It lasts for 3-4 days but it slowly gets tougher. Toast it, or make French toast. Amazing!
- Prep Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Bread, Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: sultanas, fresh yeast, egg, lemon zest, flour, sugar, Easter, traditional, bread, dessert, breakfast
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.