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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC

www.cathyskitchenprescription.com

 

Pan di Ramerino

These deliciously light, rustic Tuscan raisin buns appear in bread bakeries before Easter in Florence, but they’re too good not to enjoy whenever the mood strikes. This version omits the usual white flour, salt, sugar, and oil. Instead, we’ll use white whole wheat flour, sweetened with raisins and a little date paste, scented with rosemary tea. Pan di Ramerino is a special bread to serve at brunch, teatime, or a snack.  We begin by creating a biga, a pre-ferment or starter that will deepend the buns' flavor and make a lighter, airier crumb. 

 

Prep About 16 hours for the preferment to develop, 2 hours for the dough to rise, 40 minutes to prep, mix, and knead

Baking 30 minutes        

Makes about a dozen buns

 

Biga

200 milliliters (about ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons) spring water, slightly warmed

0.1 gram dry yeast (a pinch)

200 grams (about 1 ½ cups + 1 teaspoon) white whole wheat flour


Glaze

1 12-ounce carton apple juice concentrate, reduced

 

Dough

½ cup dense date paste from 1 cup pitted dates, any variety

50 milliliters rosemary tea (about ¼ cup) from 4 small sprigs of fresh rosemary and ½ cup water

300 grams unsulfured raisins (about 2 cups), mixed varieties, soaked

220 milliliters (about 1 cup – 2 teaspoons) spring water

5 grams dry yeast (about 1.½ teaspoons)

All the developed biga

500 grams (about 3 ½ cups +10 teaspoons) white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

300 grams unsulfured raisins (about 2 cups), mixed varieties, soaked

 

Hints

  1. As with most bread recipes, weighing ingredients with a scale will yield better and more consistent results than measuring volume in cups. I provide both, but strongly advise bakers to invest in an inexpensive digital kitchen scale.
  2. Always use untreated (chlorine and fluoride-free) water then baking yeasted or sourdough breads, as these chemicals will kill the yeasts required for leavening. If you are on municipal water or treat your well water, use bottled spring water instead.
  3. It is especially tasty to use a mix of raisins, as long as they contain no preservatives.

 

Make the Biga

  • Add lukewarm water to a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top.
  • After 10 minutes add white whole wheat flour and mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free corner for about 16 hours to mature and develop.

 

Make the Glaze

  • Pour the apple juice concentrate into a small pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by about 50 percent to create a light syrup. The glaze should lightly coat the back of a spoon. The glaze will thicken further as it cools. If it becomes too dense to easily apply with a pastry brush, dilute it with a teaspoon of water.

 

Prepare the Dough

  • Place the dates in a medium-sized bowl. Cover with boiling water or cover dates with water and microwave for 2 minutes. Blend softened dates and some of their soaking water in a high-speed blender for a few minutes until you have a perfectly smooth, dense paste. Measure ½ cup for the dough and refrigerate any excess for another use.
  • Boil ½ cup of water, pour in a bowl and add the sprigs of rosemary. Steep for 30 minutes to make rosemary tea. Discard the sprigs.
  • Measure the raisins. Place them in a small bowl, cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain.
  • In a larger bowl add the water and sprinkle on the yeast. Once yeast has dissolved fully, about 10 minutes, add the rosemary tea and date paste, stirring well to dissolve.
  • Stir in all of the biga, then mix in the flour, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon initially, then switching to your clean hand at the dough thickens. Then mix in the chopped rosemary and raisins.
  • Knead the dough in the bowl for two minutes, adding minimal amount of flour if the dough is sticking to the bowl.
  • Transfer the dough to a board, and continue to knead for about 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and uniform. Resist the temptation to add flour: The dough should be moist, though not wet and sloppy.
  • Flatten the dough, stretch and fold it in different directions a few times towards the end of kneading.
  • Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap of a cover and set the bowl in a warm, draft-free corner to double in size, about an hour if your space is adequately warm.
  • Gently transfer the dough onto a board. With your hands, lightly shape the dough into a log that is about 2-inches in diameter to make 3 ½-inch buns. If you prefer smaller buns, shape the dough into a smaller, longer log.
  • Cut the dough into 12 uniform pieces for 3 ½-inch buns. Cover them with a fresh, kitchen linen.
  • Working one at a time, stretch and fold the first piece of dough once or twice, roll it into a ball, stretch and tuck its perimeter underneath the bun repeatedly to tighten up the surface without deflating the dough.
  • Score the bun with a very sharp blade deeply twice vertically, twice horizontally, creating a tick-tac-toe pattern with the central square slightly larger than all the others.
  • Set the bun on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and use a pastry brush to generously apply glaze all over the surface. Loosely cover the glazed bun with plastic wrap, and set the baking sheet in a warm, draft-free area to rise.  Proceed to shape and score all the remaining pieces of dough. When all the buns have puffed by about 50 percent, proceed to baking, about 30 minutes.

 

Bake the Buns

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the buns are golden and aromatic.
  • Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and brush on another coat of glaze. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.
  • Pan di Ramerino is so good. The buns may not linger long but if they do, freeze them and reheat for 10 minutes in a 275°F oven.

     

Pan di Ramerino

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