skip to Main Content

Pan co’ Santi, a Tuscan walnut and raisin bread for All Saints’ Day

In Siena, you can always tell the time of year based on the types of sweets available at any given moment.

In September, a few spoonfuls of sugar and grapes are added to plain bread dough to make a schiacciata traditionally associated with the harvest. Late October to mid-November, on the other hand, means the arrival of pan co’ Santi.

Pan co' Santi

Pan co’ Santi is a dense, spiced Tuscan bread, studded with raisins and walnuts, enriched with red wine, extra virgin olive oil, and sugar. In the past, they would use lard rather than olive oil, and a good spoonful of honey instead of sugar. It belongs to those enriched bread loaves that would be seasonally baked with what was available in the pantry at a given moment of the year: grapes in September to celebrate the harvest, aniseeds and eggs for Easter, raisins, walnuts, and red wine, to celebrate All Saints Day.

What looks like a rather heavy and dense bread loaf is indeed what ushers in the Tuscan festive season.

Its rustic crust glazed with egg yolk before baking glistens from every bakery counter until it will leave room for Christmastime treats like cavallucci, panforte and ricciarelli.

Pan co' Santi

Pan co’ Santi, the Tuscan walnut and raisin bread

This recipe, shared in our cookbook From the Markets of Tuscany, is the result of years of experiments, and it is adapted from the recipes I was given by Gelsomino, my mum’s cousin and a former professional chef, and by my Aunt Teresa, the best cook in my Southern family branch.

I learnt to appreciate pan co’ Santi growing up. Now I am equally fascinated by its spiced, nutty taste and the rituality of baking it to welcome a more reflective, intimate season and to start the festivities. We enjoy pan co’ Santi to end the family meal of November the 1st, then I wrap it in a paper bag for my breakfast. I cut a thick slice of pan co’ Santi in the morning and toast it on a griddle pan until the nuts start to release their oil, and the raisins caramelize. Then I slather it with butter and a tart jam, my favourite being my mum’s plum jam. This is when I can really taste the festivities approaching.

Its spiced rich flavour makes it also a perfect bread to serve alongside a Sunday roast or topped with chicken liver pâté. 

Pan co' Santi

Bake pan co’ Santi and forget it for a couple of days on your kitchen counter, wrapped in a paper bag. It will mature and develop an intense, spiced flavour, and it will marry beautifully a tiny glass of vinsanto, our local sweet wine, or some fresh, new wine.

Pan co' Santi - Tuscan walnut and raisin bread

Pan co' Santi is a dense, spiced Tuscan bread studded with raisins and walnuts.
4.28 from 11 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Rising time 16 hours
Total Time 17 hours 5 minutes
Course Bread, Dessert
Cuisine Tuscan
Servings 2 loaves


For the poolish (pre-ferment)

  • 200 g bread flour
  • 200 g water
  • teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the dough

  • 250 g raisins
  • 100 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 g shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g lukewarm water, + 1 teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 600 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk for glazing
Stay Hungry with our Newsletter!Subscribe to Letters from Tuscany and receive blog updates, new stories and exclusive recipes.


The night before you plan to bake the focaccia, make the poolish.

  • In a large bowl stir together half of the water, the sugar, and the yeast and let it stand until creamy and froth, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and the rest of the water and mix with a whisk until roughly combined. Cover with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature overnight or for 8 to 12 hours.

Now make pan co' santi.

  • In the morning, the poolish should be doubled in size, bubbly and lacy.
  • For the dough, start by soaking the raisins in a bowl of water.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the drained raisins, the walnuts, and the sugar. Let the olive oil take on flavour, then remove from the heat and let cool.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the water, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the yeast and let it stand until creamy and froth, about 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer, add the poolish, the flour, and the activated yeast, along with the nuts and raisins.
  • Knead on low speed, adding the wine a little at a time, until the dough is well combined. It should be smooth to the touch and come away easily from your hands. Lastly, add the salt and pepper and knead for another minute.
  • Turn the dough out onto an oiled pastry board. Form a round ball of dough, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, knead it again, then divide and form 2 round bread loaves.
  • Arrange the loaves, well-spaced, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cross the tops of each with a knife and let rise again until doubled in size, covered with a damp towel.
  • Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.
  • Brush the bread loaves with a beaten egg yolk, transfer to the oven, and bake for about 50 minutes until dark brown and glossy. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool thoroughly. Wait at least one day before consuming. Store wrapped in a tea towel or a paper bag.
Order now the Cucina Povera Cookbook100 recipes to celebrate the italian way of transforming humble ingredients into unforgettable meals. ORDER NOW!

Pan co' Santi

An Update

Today I’m sharing a post I’ve written in 2009. I updated the old recipe inspired by a new approach to baking – far less yeast and a longer raising -, I added bits of history and tradition, and Tommaso shot new photos of the pan co’ Santi I baked yesterday. The faint smell of nuts, black pepper, wine and raisins was still lingering in the air while we took these photos in the afternoon light coming from the kitchen window.

It is a completely renewed post. I’m not disowning my own recipes and my beginnings. I’m very proud of where I came from, of the path Tommaso and I have chosen to walk together, of everything we’ve learnt along the way. But I’m not the woman I was 11 years ago.

At that time, I was rediscovering my family recipes, I was attempting my first steps in the kitchen, experimenting with baking heavy, hard-as-stone bread. Now this is my bread and butter. I made those traditions mine, I grew fond of time-honoured flavours, appreciating how modern, fresh, surprising they could be. After more than 10 years, I am more confident in the kitchen, many recipes have become staples in our family, and deserve some more love, new photos, and a proper introduction.

We want to share with you recipes that work, that can become part of your culinary repertoire, to make you feel at home in a Tuscan countryside kitchen.

More recipes for All Saint’s Day

  • Bones of the dead. In Volterra, for some research for a cookbook, I entered one of those pastry shops with glittering windows, where you know right away, even before you set foot inside, that the atmosphere is relaxed, the choice is wide, and the welcome friendly and smiling. At the entrance, there were piles of brittle ossi di morto, the typical biscuits of Volterra, made with egg whites, sugar, flour and roasted hazelnuts, subtlety scented with lemon zest. Typical of All Saints’ and All Souls’ days, they open the holiday season. Today they can be found all year round for the happiness of those who love to dunk them in a glass of vin santo.
  • All Saints’ Day muffins. I did a quick dessert that is not part of our culinary tradition, muffins, but I have enriched them with walnuts, raisins, red wine, and black pepper as befits the Tuscan pan co’ Santi. With these muffins, you can appreciate an old-world taste that often takes too long to be kneaded, raised, and baked in a very short time.
  • In Lombardy, you can find a dark, dense bread similar to pan co’ Santi known as pan dei morti.
  • My friend Rossella on her blog, shares the recipe for fave dei morti, from Le Marche.
  • In Liguria, you can find pan dei santi e dei morti, like the one baked by my friend Enrica from A Small Kitchen in Genoa.

Pan co' Santi

Sharing is caring:

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. thank you, Karen! I’d be so happy if you bake this Tuscan bread in your kitchen!

    1. Hi Kitty, it really depends on the temperature of your kitchen, but I would say about2/3 hours

  2. Thanks for your quick response. Can you over-proof the poolish? I am trying to figure out timing. If I proofed it for over 12 hours will it impact the dough? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top