Torta di Befana

Cakes differs from region to region. This one is a yeasted cake containing raisins soaked in brandy and dried fruit, usually orange and lemon peel. it is similar to a Panettone, typically made in Milan or a Pandoro (golden bread) from Verona but not as rich. It is served on the Epiphany (January 6th) or sometimes left out the night before for La Befana, as we do cookies and milk for Santa. In Italian folklore it is believed that on the eve of The Epiphany La Befana (an old woman or witch) visits the houses of children and delivers gifts to those that have been good and coal to those that have been naughty.

Instead of the dried fruit I have flavored my cake with orange zest. I love to make this in a tube pan because you can cut slices that will fit in your toaster. I find this cake the best when it is toasted with butter. It will also make a great french toast or bread pudding.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of golden raisins

60 ml of brandy or water

1 tablespoon of active dry yeast

1 /2 cup of warm water (115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit)

120 grams of all purpose flour

114 grams of room temperature, unsalted butter

120 grams of granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 teaspoons of orange zest

2 large whole eggs

360 grams of all purpose flour

1 large whole egg (egg wash)

 METHOD:

Place the raisins and 60 ml of water or brandy in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the 120 ml of warm water and yeast. next stir in 120 grams of all purpose flour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit until slightly risen a bubbly.

Cream the butter, sugar, salt and orange s=zest in a bowl of an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. add the remaining 360 grams of flour and mix on low until thoroughly combined. Drain the raisins and add to the dough and mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Place the dough into a bowl that has been coated with butter. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Butter the inside of a 10” tube pan with a removable bottom.

Punch down the dough and place it in the pan covering the bottom. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Whisk the egg and brush it on the top of the cake.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 - 35 minutes. Test with a skewer after 30 minutes. If it comes out clean remove it from the oven. You don’t want to over bake because it will become dry.

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