Today’s recipe is the outcome of the mingled experiences of two great food experts in my family. One of the typical November cakes in Siena and surroundings is pan co’ santi, that is sweet bread with raisins and walnuts (called Saints as you usually eat this cake around All Saints celebrations). The problem was that I have always eaten giftet or bought pan co’ santi… I have never attempted to make my own pan co’ santi, until I decided it was time to try.
So I started to ring up all my relatives, to find a trace of family tradition.
The first one to answer was Gelsomino, mum’s cousin. He used to be a professional chef until he retired: now he loves cooking for family and friends. He learned to cook when he was only a child, since his mother had to work and his choir was to look after all pots and pans. He explained me how to enrich pan co’ santi and how to treat all the sweet ingredients.
The second expert to answer was Aunt Teresa: she’s actually dad’s cousin, but I call her Aunt as I consider uncles and aunts all dad’s cousins (and they are really a lot!). Aunt Teresa is an amazing family magnet, her Christmas and Easter parties are famous because she creates an unique and cozy atmosphere. She explained me how to knead pan co’ santi and the right times to respect to make it raise.
- 450 g of flour + about 400 g flour
- 250 g walnuts
- 165 g raisins
- 150 ml red wine
- 100 g extra virgin olive oil
- 50 g sugar
- 45 g brewer's yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Egg yolk for brushing the bread
- You must make it in two steps.
- The night before, or at least 6 hours before, dissolve half of the brewer’s yeast into warm water (about 150 ml), combine some flour and cover with the leftover flour, using a large bowl. Wait till the next day or until the flour explodes… the yeast becomes alive and comes out of the flour, making small trickles of risen dough.
- The day after soak raisins into warm water. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped walnuts, the sugar and the squeezed raisins. Brown for a few minutes and remove from the heat. Let it cool down.
- Add this mixture to the leavened flour, combining the leftover yeast dissolved into about 150 ml of warm water and other ingredients as well.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it gets smooth and it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore.
- Let rise for about 2 hours in a warm place covered with a kitchen towel, until it doubles its size.
- Now knead again the dough for about 5 minutes and make two small round loafs, carve them with a cross cut and let them rise again until they double their size.
- Rub them with beaten egg yolk and bake in the preheated oven to 180°C for about 40 minutes.
- Let them cool down. They give their best the day after.