Discovering Tuscan flavours with buccellato, a sweet bread typical of the city of Lucca
Buccellato is the typical dessert of Lucca. The citizens are very proud of this traditional cake and, if you stay in this enchanting place surrounded by authentic sixteenth century walls, probably your host will bring you this delicious local delicacy as a gift. There is even a saying, in Lucca, about this beloved recipe: "Whoever comes to Lucca and does not eat buccellato is like never having been there".
The origin of the name "buccellato" is in the Latin word "buccella", which means bite. It seems it was born in Roman times as bread for soldiers. However, in ancient times buccellato had an exclusively round shape and was consumed as a Sunday dessert. In the modern bakeries of Lucca, instead, it is also sold with a straight shape and kept inside a nice paper bag. buccellato could be defined as a "rich bread": the dough is sweet and soft, filled with raisins and with an aniseed aroma. The crust presents an inviting shiny brown color, made with a brushstroke of sugar and egg. Nowadays it is possible to buy it at any time of the year, however its consumption originates from a close connection with religious functions, especially the manifestation of the "Exaltation of the Holy Cross". The cake is often served with wine, better if fortified. The place par excellence associated to buccellato is Taddeucci, an ancient bakery being in the city since 1881. The bakery is located in the historical square of San Michele, near the same named church.
For the making of buccellato there is no unique recipe. Being a traditional cake, you can only find a basic recipe, since those knowing the secrets of the production of this tasty bread, are careful to keep the secret! Here is the basic recipe:
- flour (500 g)
- sugar (150 g)
- brewer's yeast (20 g)
- 1 glass of milk
- raisins (50 g)
- 2 teaspoons of aniseed seeds
- a pinch of salt
- butter (50 g)
- 2 eggs
Buccellato is not just one!
The funniest curiosity about buccellato is that, among Italian traditional desserts, the pan dolce lucchese (Lucca sweet bread) is not the only one to bear this name. In fact, there is a Sicilian Christmas cake also called "buccellato". The Sicilian recipe is, of course, different. This alternative buccellato is in fact a doughnut made of short pastry decorated with candied fruit and stuffed with a rich filling of dried figs, raisins, almonds, orange peels and other ingredients which vary according to the area where it is prepared.