Grandma Menna’s Kitchen: pan co’ santi

Date novembre 18, 2009

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 sourroundings 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 atmoshpere. She explained me how to knead pan co’ santi and the right times to respect to make it raise.

Ingredients for 2 small round loafs:

  • brewer’s yeast, 45 gr (about 2 pats)
  • flour ’00′, about 450 gr (it may require more than that)
  • raisins, 165 gr
  • walnuts, 250 gr
  • caster sugar, 50 gr
  • salt, 1 teaspoon
  • pepper, ½ teaspoon
  • extra virgin olive oil, 100 gr (you can use either butter or lard)
  • red wine, 150 ml
  • egg yolk to rub the surface

You must make it in two steps.

The previous night, dissolve half of the brewer’s yeast into warm water (about 150ml), combine some flour and cover with the leftover flour, using a large bowl. I made this step at 4 am in the morning, coming back form a night out.. it was already late! ;) Wait till the next day or unitl the flour explodes… What do I mean with ‘explode’? I was quite doubtful until I saw the result: the yeast becomes alive and comes out of the flour, making small trikles of rised dough. SInce I was sceptical, I closed the bowl with flour and yeast into the oven… otherwise, how to explain to my mother a kitchen covered in flour the day afer? eh eh eh

So, the day after, soak raisins into warm water. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add chopped walnuts, sugar and squeezed raisins (remove all the water). Make sautee for a few minutes and remove from the heat. Let it cool down.

Add this mixture to ‘exploded’ flour, combining leftover yeast (dissolved into about 150ml 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 table napkin, 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 make them rise again until they double their size. Rub them with beaten egg yolk and bake them in preheated oven to 180°C for about 40 minutes.

Let them cool down. They give their best the day after!

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4 Responses to “Grandma Menna’s Kitchen: pan co’ santi”

  1. kristy said:

    Mmm…. Such a delicious bake! I would love to have this with my coffee. Thank you.


  2. Obligatory mid-lull post « the itinerant gastronomer said:

    [...] seeds, and raisins as the ‘jewels’.  YUM YUM YUM.  Our recipe was adapted from this recipe.  We used a few different ingredients but basically followed the amounts exactly.  It made two [...]

  3. Italian Table Talk: All Saints' Day and Halloween, tradition and innovation. All Saints' Day Muffins - Juls' Kitchen | Juls' Kitchen said:

    [...] Emiko. If you are looking instead for the traditional pan co’ santi, here’s my family recipe, tested over and over again, now fully [...]

  4. susanna nussbaum said:

    Hello Giulia,

    I simply LOVE pan di santo, I have been known to travel long distances and suffer parking fines to get my hands on a good pan di santo. . . . finally a recipe! so hopefully I can re-create that heavenly taste and texture!! Now I can have a go at home, a heartfelt thank you for a truly great recipe.


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