Sourdough Buccellato. Fruit Bread from Lucca

There is a local saying in Lucca about its famous Buccellato sweet bread: who ever comes to Lucca and doesn’t eat Buccellato might as well never have come. (“Chi viene a Lucca e non mangia il buccellato è come non ci fosse mai stato”).

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, Lucca

The last time we stayed in Lucca, we were fortunate to try this bread, thanks to our host Guido, who brought us a warm fresh loaf one Sunday morning. I’ve dreamed about making it ever since, especially now that Easter is around the corner. It seems like a good substitute for Hot Cross Buns and is great toasted. The Lucchese eat this loaf at any time of the year: it is not a festive Easter bread, but it does seem to suit the season. It is said to go well dunked into a licorice based spirit such as Anisette or Sambucca, as there is a hint of anise in the bread.

Buccellato. Dunk in an Anise flavoured liquor or toast and spread with butter.

I have used a ripe sourdough starter in this recipe, which I’m sure they used in days of old.  It is fairly plain, as many Italian cakes and festive breads seem to be. If you wish to make it using yeast, see the notes below.

Makes 2 small loaves, or 1 large

  • 150 gr golden raisins or sultanas
  • 450 gr baker’s flour
  • 50 gr wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 150 gr ripe liquid sourdough starter
  • 200 gr milk
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 80 gr granulated sugar
  • 50 gr unsalted butter at room temperature, in pieces
  • 1.5 teaspoons aniseeds
  • egg wash, made from an egg yolk and a little water.

Place the raisins in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to plump up until needed. In the meantime mix the two flours and salt in a large bowl. a separate bowl, crack the egg, add the warm milk and sugar and mix well. Finally add the sourdough and mix through.

Add the liquid ingredients to the flours and mix until a dough begins to form. ( I used a stand mixer for this process). Put on a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, or knead on low with a dough hook for 3-5 minutes. The dough will be a little hard.  Begin adding the butter in small pieces until it is well incorporated and the dough is smooth. Add the aniseed and leave to rest covered in a warm place under a bowl to rise. I found that the dough needed around 4 hours to rise. This will depend on the temperature of your room. It may take longer.

Drain the raisins and dry with kitchen paper. Lightly dust with flour and add to the dough, kneading through by hand, until the fruit is well-distributed. If making two small loaves, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Shape into two logs with pointy ends, place onto a lightly dusted work surface and leave to prove again until about doubled in size. Or, shape into one large batard shape. Leave in a warm spot to rise again.

Preheat the oven to 200°C FF.  When the dough has risen, slash the loaves/loaf in the centre with a straight cut about 1cm deep and brush with egg wash. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. If making a large loaf, count on around 45 minutes.  Remove and leave to cool before eating,

Straight from the oven. Buccellato Lucchese

You can make this bread without a sourdough starter by using 20 gr of dry active yeast, adding it to the flour at the beginning of this recipe. The bread dough will rise more quickly with yeast.

My name is Lucca.

Un post interessante del Buccellato qui.

28 thoughts on “Sourdough Buccellato. Fruit Bread from Lucca”

  1. Izzi, our eldest, is home from Uni for a week. She has just started making bread a little and experimenting. This morning she was saying she hopes we can find a fruit loaf at the bakery. So I am showing her this, while she is here, she can now make her own! Perfect timing, thank you xx

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  2. The sugar cane fields, banana and papaya plantations that surround us is in the far north wet tropics is a far cry from Lucca’s environment but alas are owned in part by large hard-working Italian and Indian families. The farms are huge but the local population is small. Our local General Store is the hub and we have befriended a few Italian “Mammas” who are just delighted to find like-minded foodies and almost drag one home to sample their fare. The bread never stops being produced in their homes for their healthy exhausted offspring who drag themselves back from the fields seeking Mamma’s succour and cuisine. What a fruit-salad of glee, laughter and love they exude and share with anyone Mammas dragged home. Besides the bulging bowls of steaming pastas it’s the bread that takes the cake – so to speak. All this because this particular Maria is from Lucca. She has bestowed many bread recipes upon me but in this tropical heat the last thing we need is a hot oven contributing to the thermal atmosphere. Maria has insisted we come over next week for an Easter Feast and I’m lead to believe she makes all sorts of sweet/fruit breads and is renowned for being the best. Maria is 86 yo. and we are just so looking forward to it. However Francesca, your images are making my tummy groan in anticipation.

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    1. I wish I could come along to Maria’s Easter feast too. If she passes on many recipes, just pass them on to me.
      I was aware that there are many Italian families around the Innisfail area- Maria, at 86, would have some interesting stories to tell about the old cane cutting days. Most of the work in this industry, at least in the 50s, was carried out by new Italian migrants. Many would have stayed and began farming in other areas, or opened general stores. Buona Pasqua. xx

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  3. Very impressive baking Francesca, this looks incredible. I haven’t made fruit sourdough in ages but I need to get back to it. Have you tried dried figs in fruit bread? I have and you have reminded me that I need to do it again soon! Happy baking.

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  4. I used a starter I got years ago from Celia. I feed it at 1/4 cup bakers flour and 1/4 cup water at least 3 times till its bubby. Don’t ask me about percentages. When it comes to bakers terminology, I am a miserable failure. I stick to these simple formulas.

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  5. Inspired by you, Maree & Celia I’m finally finding some bread baking mojo… such recipes and photos as this… yum. It makes living out here in the hills -in the boonies apparently- away from shops, feel cosmopolitan via such goodies as a nice slice of fruit loaf and a cup of good coffee.

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