Buccellato – Sicilian Christmas Nut Ring
Happy Birthday to Me! Yeahhh! As you grow older the excitement of celebrating birthdays fades away and as a another digit adds up to your round number – the sulking increases. But I am not complaining or sulking – I believe the numbers are in your head. This past year has been special in many ways – I have learnt so much more, found new love, new peace and happiness within. I guess I really don’t have to tell – it probably shows! 🙂 I count my blessings each day and it your good wishes that keep me going. Thank you a million times for that. I feel settled which does not mean I am aiming low. There are still things on my list I want to learn and experience. And hopefully I achieve what I have planned for this year. I also want to thank some very wonderful friends I have made in the past year through my blog. Though we haven’t met, we connect with each other on so many levels. You have given me so much.
So my lovely friends keep smiling always – that will help you transform all despair into delight.
I baked yes! I baked a birthday cake for myself but a little different one from the previous years. And I am so glad that I tried. Thanks to Lina @Lin’s Recipe , I tried another rare recipe: Buccellato. It is basically a Christmas fig and Nut ring. In my search for the recipe, I saw many versions of this cake and breads. I reached out to my fellow blogger Joe from Italy who helped me validate the right one. Joe, I hope I have done justice to this. 🙂 The Sicilian version is Buccellato and quite popular. It is a combination of figs, raisins, nuts and candied citrus. When I baked this, I realized Buccellato is much more than a fruit cake or fig pie or pastry. It is the combination of all that goodness in one ; making it one rich and gorgeous dessert.
The origin of this pastry is obscured and no one knows when this recipe came into existence. By tradition, Buccellato was associated with family milestones since Buccellato represented good fortune and prosperity of the harvest. Trust me this is a very “rich” dessert in itself.
Today Buccellato is most often associated with the Christmas holidays and still made by hand.
Looking through recipes and having baked one, one thing is certain – Buccellato is the timeless, quintessential Sicilian holiday cake. No doubt about that! 🙂
Makes 2 rings: 6”each or 1 ring of 12”
Recipe inspired by: CookingwithRosetta
Sweet short-crust pastry:
3 cups or 396 g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup or 150 g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 170 g unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
For the Filling:
3.5 cups or 454 g dried figs
2/3 cup or 100 g toasted almonds
1 cup or 100 g walnuts
3/4 cup or 100 g toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup or 100 g packed raisins
1/2 cup or 100 g dark chocolate finely chopped or chocolate chips
55 g candied orange peel, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon mandarin zest, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/2 cup sweet marsala or moscato d’asti
Milk or 1 egg for egg wash
For the Glaze:
¼ cup apricot or orange jam
One tablespoon of water
Making the Pastry Dough:
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt in a food processor and pulse just a few times to combine them.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and add them to the food processor. Pulse until the butter is in small crumbs.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add the eggs with the machine running.
- Mix until the dough comes together around the blade. When you pinch it between your fingers, the dough should hold together easily.
- Transfer to a flat surface and press it together with your hands to form a smooth ball.
- Flatten the dough into a rectangle about 9 inches long and 4 inches wide. Wrap tightly in plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days, before rolling.
Making the Filling:
- Remove all the stems from the dried figs. If the figs are very dry you can soak them in orange juice for 15 minutes to plump up, but if the figs are very moist skip this step.
- Transfer the figs, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and raisins in a food processor and process until everything is coarsely chopped.
- Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. I like texture so kept the nuts coarsely chopped.
- Place the filling in a bowl and knead it till it comes together to make a sticky filling.
- Refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for a couple of hours or overnight. The filling can be made ahead up to two days ahead of time.
Shaping the Buccellato:
- Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator. If refrigerated for more than an hour, let stand wrapped, at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.
- Roll out the dough in between two pieces of plastic wrap to a rectangle of 12 inches long by 6 inches wide. Place the pastry dough with the plastic wrap on top of a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator while you shape the filling. I planned to divide the dough and filling so chose these measurements. If you plan to bake one big fruit ring – roll to a rectangle 23inches by 8inches wide. Also shape the filling accordingly then.
- Place the filling on top of plastic wrap, and use your hands to shape it into a log. Wrap it with the plastic and roll it to look like a log, about 12 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place the filling in the middle of the pastry dough rectangle. Using the bottom sheet of plastic wrap to assist, bring the long sides of the dough pieces together, completely encasing the filling, and seal.
- Place the dough with the seam down and roll it gently to completely seal the seam, keeping the ends open.
- Remove the plastic wrap, and place the log on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly elongate the dough by rolling it back and forth in order to bring the two ends close together to form and shape the log into a ring.
- Ensure that the dough is sealed. Using a plastic wrap massage it all around to get an even, round rings of dough about 6 inches in diameter.
- Once the Buccellato is shaped, place it in the fridge for an hour before the crimping, as the dough needs to be cold but still pliable. If it is too stiff, let it sit out for 15 minutes until it is pliable.
- Using the Pinza or a fondant crimper create a pattern. (See pictures for inspiration). In Rosetta’s blog she describes in detail how to crimp the pastry. But any pattern of your liking is ok here.
- Crimp deep enough to expose some of the filling, and gather the dough inside the crimper to form a ridge. Dip the crimper in a small dish of flour, as needed, to prevent the dough from sticking to the crimper.
- Once the crimping is done, refrigerate it for a couple of hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C with a rack in the middle of the oven. It is important that the dough is chilled and the oven is hot, to minimize the drooping while it sets during baking.
- Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and before baking it, brush the entire Buccellato with an egg wash or milk using a pastry brush.
- Bake at 180 C for 30 to 35 minutes until the dough turns golden all over.
- Rotate the pan after 20 minutes of baking to get an even colour.
- Once ready, let the Buccellato cool.
- While it is cooling prepare the jam glaze. Put the jam with a tablespoon of water and heat it for 50 seconds in the microwave until melted and liquid.
- Glaze the entire Buccellato using a pastry brush. Buccellato can be garnished with candied fruit or sprinkles but I left it plain.
I hope Lina and our wonderful judges for this challenge: Suzanne and Jhuls enjoy this cake 🙂 Do head over and check their amazing blogs for some inspiration. Also sharing my birthday cake with my fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday with Angie and co-hosted again by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.
Have a lovely weekend and remember to visit and subscribe to my Facebook Page: My Culinary Saga to get regular yummy updates.
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Love & Hugs,