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Focaccia Della Befana (Epiphany Sweet Bread)

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“L’Epifania tutte le feste porta via”.

“The Epiphany takes away all the festivities”.

Italian Proverb.

Epiphany, or the 12th day of Christmas, falls on January 6 and marks the end of the Holiday Season for the Catholics. According to the Italian folklore, on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5th) la Befana, the old woman that flies on a broom, visits all the children in Italy to fill their stockings with candies and presents if they well-behave throughout the year, or coal if they are naughty.

Here is the traditional Focaccia della Befana, a delicious sweet bread filled with candied fruit. The tradition says to put a little coin wrapped in aluminum foil in the sweet bread, the lucky one that will find the piece of bread with the coin will be fortunate in the New Year!

Happy Epiphany!

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Photo by Ale Gambini – BreadLoveAndDreams

Yields : 12 servings

Difficulty : easy

Prep Time : 30 mins. + 1 h  30 mins. to rest

Cook Time : 15 mins.

INGREDIENTS

3.5 cups flour type 00

1 pinch of salt

7 gr dry yeast

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

zest of 1 lemon, grated

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup milk, lukewarm

1/2 cup candied orange peels

1 egg + 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash

sugar pearls, to garnish

 

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl combine flour and salt.

Proof the yeast with 1/4 cup of lukewarm water then incorporate the proofed yeast to the flour mixture.

Make a well in the center then add sugar, eggs, lemon zest, melted butter and mix adding little by little the milk until all the liquids are absorbed.

Move the dough over a floured work surface and knead until an elastic dough forms. Add the candied orange peels and shape the dough into a ball.

Move the dough in a slightly floured bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

Move the dough over a round baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pat flat then shape into a big flower. Place a water glass or a mug in center of circle. Use a paring knife to cut the dough in 12 petals, leaving the center intact.

Twist each petals twice. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven at 400 F degrees.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar pearls.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before serving.

 

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