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The famous Christmas Sicilian buccellato

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!

ingredients for a 30 cm ring of pastry (total cost 15 € with organic ingredients)

a portion of frolla dough made with

  • 175 g pastry flour
  • 75 g semolina
  • 65 g sugar
  • 75 g butter
  • 1 egg (50 g)
  • 4 g (about 1 1/2 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 g (¼ tsp) ammonia for sweets
  • Zest from 1 tangerine
  • 30 ml milk

for the filling (conza)

  • 125 g dried figs
  • 75 g raisins (sultana, black currants or both of them)
  • 100 g chopped toasted walnuts
  • 50 g pistachios
  • 50 g candied peels (mixed oranges, tangerines)
  • 100 g citron marmalade (or tangerine or orange)
  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • juice and zest from 2 small tangerines
  • 3 tbsp honey (diluted in a little warm water)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1ml ground cloves
  • 1 ml ground star anise
  • ½ ml freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

for the glaze and decoration

  • 4 tbsp citron marmalade
  • 1 tsp icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • candied peels (orange, tangerine), chopped pistachio

I am not Sicilian. But if I were, I’m sure my Christmas memories would taste like Buccellato!

Buccellato is the typical Sicilian sweet prepared during the Christmas period. It consists of a fragrant sweet short crust pastry – a pasta frolla, filled with a mixture of dried figs, raisins, dry nuts, candied fruit, marmalade, chocolate and Christmas spices and baked in the form of a ring or a horseshoe.

So to make it, first of all we prepare a portion of frolla dough. We begin by mixing the sugar with the tangerine (or other citrus fruit) zest and set it aside to let the sugar absorb the essential oils of the zest.

We sieve the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and we add the butter, already softened and cut into small dice. We mix at medium-low speed, until a mixture that resembles small bread crumbs is obtained. We add the sugar-zest mixture and we continue mixing to fully incorporate. We also add the egg, salt, ammonia and baking powder dissolved the very last moment in 1-2 tsp of the milk and we continue mixing, until all ingredients are well blended. Finally, we pour in the rest of the milk little by little and we continue mixing, until the dough comes together. Of course, you can perfectly do it by hand, I just find this way more convenient. We let the dough rest in the fridge for a few hours, ideally overnight.

To prepare the filling (which in Sicilian is called “conza”), we put in a bowl full of warm water to soak for 30 minutes the dried figs, finely chopped along with the raisins. Then we strain and we dry them well with kitchen paper and we place them in a large bowl.

We briefly roast the dry nuts (walnuts and pistachios) at around 150 for about 5-8 minutes and we chop them. We add them in the bowl with the figs and raisins, along with the the candied peels (you can see HERE how to make your own) and chocolate, also chopped. We also add the citron marmalade (or a citrus fruit marmalade of your choice), the honey, diluted with some warm water ( if it is not runny), the tangerine zest grated the last moment, as well as the juice from about 2 small tangerines and the spices and we mix well. We cover the mixture with cling film and we let rest in the fridge for a few hours, ideally over night.

Finally, to prepare the buccellato we lay the filling over double parchment paper and roll it to form a long sausage to a length of about 50 cm. We close the extremes of the paper wrap with cling film and we place it to the freezer for about an hour to help it harden a bit. This way it will be easier to roll it inside the frolla base. Meanwhile, we take the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out into a rectangular sheet with a thickness of 5 mm and a length a little longer than that of the sausage filling.

When the sausage filling has hardened enough to hold its shape, we remove it from the freezer and we arrange it along the entire length of the frolla dough sheet. We cut the excess dough, we close it back on itself, sealing the edges well and roll it back and forth to form a wrapped long sausage. We leave the edges open. We let it rest so that the filling unfreezes a little, then we take the 2 edges and we unite them placing the one inside the other to form a ring and we seal thoroughly.

With jagged-edged tweezers or simply with a fork we make vertical stripes of holes along the whole surface of the buccellato, as seen in the photos. This will help the steam that the filling will produce during cooking escape from the sweet, preventing its “explosion” and, at the same time, creates a beautiful decorative pattern.

We take a baking tray, we line it with parchment paper and we lay the buccellato on it. We let it rest for one last time in the fridge for about 3-4 hours, to help it hold its shape while baking. Then we bake in a preheated oven at 200 ° C (static function) for about 25-30 minutes. If, after the first 10-15 minutes, we see that the surface of the buccellato turns too brown, maybe we should lower the temperature to 185-180 degrees.

When the buccellato is ready, we remove it from the oven, we transfer it on a wire rack and let it cool.

Meanwhile we prepare a glaze by melting over medium heat the marmalade diluted with the water and a little addition of icing sugar, until the marmalade dissolves in the water and turns liquid again. Then we pass it through a sieve to get a smooth jelly. We allow the glaze to cool for a couple of minutes, until just slightly warm (don’t let it turn cold, use while the glaze is still warm), then we immediately brush it over the whole surface of the buccellato. This will make the sweet glossy and it will help the decoration stick on the top. We decorate it immediately (before the glaze cools and settles) with candied peels and sprinkle with chopped pistachio.


Published in DESSERTS