These little Tuscan breads are ingenious. Neither completely savory nor sweet they’re scattered with raisins, perfumed with rosemary and olive oil and lightly painted with an apricot glaze. They’re a variation on the hot cross bun, and as such appear around Easter in Florence. Traditionally this bread was made in loaves on Holy Thursday for the observance of the Last Supper. The loaves would be baked, taken to church for a blessing then eaten after mass. Nowadays I’m told this bread is mostly baked up in buns, and no longer just for Holy Thursday. You’ll want to eat yours all year round as well. Begin by assembling your ingredients.
Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat until it shimmers in the pan. Add the rosemary and sauté about 30 seconds.
Remove the rosemary from the (now flavored) oil and add the raisins to the pan. Sauté those another 30 seconds.
They’ll be pretty and plump.
However they’ll shrink and harden again as they cool. Strain them, reserving the oil. Let it all cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle. Stir everything together on low.
Next whisk all the wet ingredients (including the cooled oil) together in a bowl with a fork.
Pour the wet into the dry and stir them until the dry ingredients are moistened. Oh, nice thumb, moron! Jeez…the production values around this joint. Crikey!
Anyway. Switch to the dough hook and knead about 5 minutes until the dough is elastic yet still sticky.
Add the raisins and knead them in for about 2 minutes and…oh good Lord. Hey! You with the thumb! Get a job!
Excuse me, where was I? Oh yes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and roll it around a bit.
Let the dough rise 1 – 1 1/2 hours until it’s about doubled in size.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces about 2.75 ounces each and roll them into balls according to the bun rolling post right here.
Place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan and paint them with more olive oil.
Let the buns rise another 30-45 minutes until they’re about doubled in size again and the dough still springs back a bit when you poke it. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When they’ve finished proofing score them in a tic-tac-toe pattern. I do one direction first…
…then the other. This uglies them up a bit, but who am I to argue with tradition? A sharp serrated knife works best for me.
Paint them with egg wash…
…and bake 20-25 minutes until they’re well browned. You can go darker than this if you like.
While they’re still warm paint them with either apricot glaze or heavy syrup.
You’re gonna love these, I can tell already.