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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pane co' Santi {Saint's Bread}

This bread is typically made around All-Saint's Day in November, but really I think it's a lovely loaf year round.  I normally associate sweet or enriched breads with this "holiday", but that's not the case with this loaf.  The dough itself is a cinch to work's totally the fruit and nuts that make it.  Bright bursts of sweetness from the yellow raisins and a triple-nutty punch that comes not just from the pecans and walnuts, but also seems to emanate from the olive oil that they were sautéed in.  

Tessa Kiros shares that while many think the name of this bread refers to the day on which you can usually find it popping up, others think it's so named because it is "only fit for a saint".  Another explanation...perhaps my that the name refers to the ingredients (olive oil, walnuts, sultanas) as being saints themselves.  This is equally fitting served with your morning coffee or after a meal with a glass of Vin Santo.
Pane co' Santi (Saint's Bread)

by Heather Schmitt-González (adapted from Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book by Tessa Kiros)
Prep Time: 2½-3 hours
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Keywords: bake bread nuts raisins Easter Tuscan Italian

Ingredients (2 loaves)
  • 8.75 grams active dry yeast
  • 310 ml (1¼ c.) lukewarm water
  • 27 grams (2 Tbs.) superfine sugar + a pinch
  • ~500 grams (1 lb. 2 oz.) bread flour
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 60 grams (½ c.) yellow raisins
  • 62 grams (½ c.) pecans, chopped coarsely
  • 62 grams (½ c.) walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • splash of milk

Stir yeast into water and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl until it looks a bit foamy, ~10 minutes.

Mix flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Pour in liquid mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon. Once it gets too stiff to mix, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, ~10 minutes. Adjust by adding a touch more flour if dough is too sticky...or adding a bit more water if dough is too dry. You're looking for a texture that is slightly tacky, but not sticky at all.

Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a film of plastic or a clean kitchen towel. Let sit until doubled in size, ~1½ hours.

In the meatime, saute the raisins and nuts in a small pan with the olive oil over low heat until they just begin to turn golden in spots. Stir in salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and flatten it slightly. Spread the raisin-nut mixture over the top and knead gently to work in to the dough. Divide in half and form into two flattened rounds or ovals.
Place them on a lined baking sheet, cover with plastic and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until slightly risen.

Preheat oven to 350° F during last 15 minutes of rise time. Remove plastic and beat the egg yolk with a splash of milk. Brush over the loaves.

Slide into oven and bake for ~45-50 minutes, or until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

When kneading in the raisins and nuts, I recommend pushing any raisins that are sticking out back inside the bread before baking. Otherwise, the ones that are sticking out will turn puffy and in little puffs of charcoal. Not too appetizing.
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Would you like to comment?

  1. That looks fabulous. I have never tried a loaf quite like that, but now I am desperate to :)

  2. Wow...I have never had this bread but it really looks delightful!

  3. This bread is LOADED with stuff.  I like stuff!

  4. With all that dried fruit and nuts, I'd be tearing off hunks of htat bread every time I walked by the kitchen!

  5. Natashya Kitchen PuppiesJanuary 7, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Looks heavenly - Bread fit for a Saint - I love it!

  6. This filling is what I had in mind for my rosca but in the end decided on a cranberry almond filling, which was yummy. Seeing your pics makes me want to remake my rosca all over again with raisins and nuts. Sounds and looks delish! YUM!

  7. Funny you should say that, Yvette.  I'm going to go ahead and admit out loud- I meant to make this into a Rosca de Reyes.  It's true. I just would up having a little bit to much filling and the dough was too stiff to make into a ring. Sigh... so I didn't make a rosca this year.  But I do think you're right that it would make a great filling for it!  Off to check out yours :D

  8. Pure heaven, Heather! What I wouldn't do for just a nibble right about now.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  9. And here I was assuming it was for the New Orleans Saints when I first read the title. 

  10. Great your Pane co' Santi, Heather! It reminds me of my summer holidays in Tuscany (Grosseto district, near the sea).. lovely and I like raisins and walnuts a LOT! Great job of translation and conversion grams into cups or lbs etc.. Ciao from Francesca

  11. Couscous & ConsciousnessJanuary 8, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    This looks positively divine - I love the idea of the nuts and raisins being sauteed first in the olive oil, all three of which are definitely saintly ingredients in my opinion.  I would love a chunk of this right now with my Coffee Granita :-)
    Sue xo

  12. This bread looks so amazing--I love how full of great ingredients it is. I can just imagine pieces still warm from the oven slathered with butter. ;-)

  13. you make the funnest things!  i love this bread, it's one of those things that you could eat any time of the day.

  14. michelle/peaceful readerJanuary 8, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    I love all that yummy stuff that just went into the middle of the loaf!  Yummy.

  15. This bread looks like it would be fantastic toasted with a little butter for breakfast.  Gorgeous!

  16. Yup, That looks amazing. Nothing wrong with bread filled with nuts and raisins!

  17. Andreas SchillingerJanuary 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Great looking loaf.

  18. I found your bread searching for an old publication of a small Tuscan cook book of which I forgot the title. Looking at this lovely bread I thought of my long distance hikes and I will make a loaf of this to carry me along my next longer trek. Thanks for posting it!

  19. That's wonderful to hear...thank you very much :D

  20. That's wonderful to hear, thank you! =)
    ...Heather Schmitt-Gonzálezblog: girlichef
    twitter: @girlichef

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