Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ciambella Mandorlata - A Celebration Bread with the BBB

This month, in honor of Easter, our host kitchen has chosen for us to bake Ciambella Mandorlata; an Italian Easter bread that originates in Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region.  This lovely bread, usually shaped in a ring, has a soft, brioche-like texture and is decorated with a delightfully crunchy and sweet spiced almond topping.  The ring shape is supposed to represent the unity of the family and though often baked for Easter, it is also enjoyed throughout the year as a breakfast bread.

We would love for you to try out this recipe and join in as a buddy baker this month!  This is a wonderful bread to share with family or friends on a special occasion, or just make a regular breakfast special. You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished flatbread to My Diverse Kitchen by the 29th of this month. Be sure to put BBBuddy in the subject line. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Ciambella Mandorlata
adapted from Ultimate Bread
makes one loaf

For the dough:
2 tsp dry yeast (Mine is getting old and I used almost 2¾ tsp) 
½ cup lukewarm milk
4½ cups bread flour (I used 250g freshly ground and sifted sprouted spelt, and about 365g all purpose flour)
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar (scant)
grated zest of 3 lemons (I used Meyer lemons)
9 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (I only used 8 tbsp, one stick)
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup water (I used ¼ cup for my dough and flour)
I also added: 
½ tsp orange flower water
1 tsp mahleb
¼ tsp cardamom

For the topping:
4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
¾ cup blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (I used sliced almonds)
1 egg yolk
I also added 1 tsp lemon zest to the topping as well

Sprinkle the yeast over the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve.  Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl.  Add to yeast mixture along with eggs and butter.  Add the water by tablespoons, as needed to form a soft, sticky dough.  Knead on medium speed until smooth, springy, and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Scrape down the sides and form the dough into a ball.  Return to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 4 hours.  (Three hours for my kitchen).  Deflate the dough, then cover again and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 16-inch (18") long rope.  Twist the two dough ropes together.  (I find that you get better definition in the "twist" if you lightly flour the ropes and just cross and place the pieces over each other, the same as if braiding a three strand, rather than actually twisting.)  Place the twist on a buttered baking sheet.  Form it into a ring by bringing the two ends of the rope together.  Match and pinch the edges of the pieces together to seal.  Cover and proof until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.  (I did put a glass in the middle to keep the center hole open, and stretched it out a bit after an hour.)

To make the topping mix the cinnamon, sugar, almonds, and egg yolk in a bowl.  Use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture evenly over the top of the ring. (I heated up a slurry of cornstarch and water until it gelled and added just a small spoonful to the topping because I felt it needed a bit more binding.  The rest I used to brush on the loaf with a pastry brush before adding the topping and it helped it stick beautifully!)

Bake at 200ºC (400ºF) in a preheated oven for 45 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.  (We recommend baking for 10 minutes at 400ºF and turning down the heat to 375º to finish the loaf.  Tent with foil if the topping is browning too quickly.)

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

 Approximate nutrition for one slice of bread: