This bread is based upon an ancient Etruscan recipe. It was updated and traditionally made in the Lombardy region for All Souls Day.
Bread of the Dead Recipe
- 4 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 Tbs almond slivers
- 2 dried figs, chopped
- 2 Tbs raisins
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- flour to work the dough
- butter or oil for bowl
- 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbs orange zest
- Soak the figs and raisins in the white wine.
- Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts.
- Remove from the heat and add the warm water--It should be no hotter than 110F.
- In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, almond extract, and 1/4 cup of the sugar.
- Beat in the warm milk mixture.
- Add the eggs and beat until well combined.
- Stir in the slivered almonds.
- Add the almonds, cinnamon, raisins, figs and any wine left in the bowl.
- Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours.
- Punch the dough down and shape it into a long loaf shape.
- Place the dough onto a baking sheet or in a baguette pan, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.
- Bake at 350F oven for about 35 to 45 minutes.
- Mix the confectioner's sugar, orange juice, and orange zest together in a small pan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven. Allow the bread to cool slightly then brush with glaze.
Bella Italian Food Recommends
Chicago Metallic Professional Non-Stick Perforated French Bread Pan
When buying a baguette pan you will need one that is perforated. This 16-by-4-inch curved holders for two loaves of bread. The perforation allows the bread to have a good crust on both top and bottom. It is made of heavy-gauge steel with a Silverstone nonstick surface for quick release and easy cleanup. I suggest that you oil the pan before baking.