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St. Joseph's Bread

This bread, called Pane di San Giuseppe, is traditionally made for the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons aniseed
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • Corn meal

Instructions

  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, honey, water, salt, butter and aniseed in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Add raisins. Beat for another 10 minutes, adding flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk about 1 hour.
  5. Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with corn meal or line one with kitchen parchment.
  6. Punch down the dough. Shape into a long loaf.
  7. Place the loaf on the baking sheet and make three or four 1/2-inch diagonal slashes on the top. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk about 30 minutes.
  8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Mist loaves with water or vinegar before baking and twice during baking.
  10. Bake about 40 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Traditionally, you shape the bread to look like a patriarch's beard by making five torpedo loaves of graduated lengths, 1 long, 2 medium and 2 short. Place them close together on a baking sheet in the following order: 1 short, 1 medium, 1 long, 1 medium, 1 short. They will rise together and you'll have Pane di San Guiseppe.

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