Ieri mattina, mentre passeggiavo per le vie della città in compagnia di una nostra studentessa che sta frequentando un corso di “italiano pratico”, mi è cascato l'occhio sulla vetrina di una pasticceria dove risaltava in bella vista un cartello con la scritta “Chi viene a Lucca e 'un mangia il buccellato è come se non ci fosse stato”. Naturalmente sotto troneggiava un bel buccellato a ciambella... L'ho fatto notare alla mia studentessa che mi ha domandato il significato di quella scritta. Ne è seguita una conversazione a metà tra le tradizioni gastronomiche lucchesi e la grammatica pura ( quel congiuntivo trapassato... più croce che delizia degli studenti di italiano...) che è risultata molto interessante, sia per lei che per me. Da lì, mi è venuto in mente di dedicare un post a questo “pane dolce” che è uno dei simboli della nostra città, il BUCCELLATO.
Yesterday morning as I was walking through the streets of Lucca with a student attending our practical Italian course, a sign in the shop-window of a confectioner's caught my eye. It says “Whoever comes to Lucca and doesn't eat Buccellato, it's like he never was there” And naturally a ring-shaped buccellato towered below that sign.... I made my student notice it, and she asked the meaning of those words. We then started talking about Lucchese gastronomic traditions and pure Italian grammar - that past perfect subjunctive, more affliction than delight for students in Italian – which proved very interesting for both. The occasion prompted me to write about this “sweet bread” which is one of the symbols of our city: IL BUCCELLATO
The Buccellato, beside the Torta di verdura (vegetable cake), is the most typical and well-known cake of Lucca. They say it was created by an ancient confectioner's family at the time the Guinigi were ruling the city (first half of 1400) to delight the taste of the Lucchese nobility. Its name comes from the Latin “buccella” which means “mouthful”: for the ancient Romans the “buccellatum” was a ring-shaped bread formed by a crown of bread rolls. The modern “Buccellato” can have two shapes: like a ring and like a “baguette”, and in the past is was the traditional dessert for the Sunday's lunch in most Lucchese homes.
It's a very simple but tasty cake: inside the paste is sweet and soft with raisins and aniseed, outside it is brushed with a mixture of sugar and egg, which makes it brown and glossy.
Here's the recipe in its classical version:
Make a well with the flour and add sugar, butter, leaven, salt and one egg with milk and some lukewarm water working it into a dough. Add the raisins (if needed softened in liquor) and the aniseed little by little. Let the dough rise for about an hour. After that, shape the dough into “sausages” or rings as you prefer and make a shallow cut with a knife on the upper side, so as to favour its rising. Let it rise for another hour. Then brush the upper surface of the dough with a mixture of sugar and egg and bake in the oven for about an hour.
A tasty version, fit for this period of ceremonies and Communions: in the past, in the Lucchese countryside on the occasion of the religious feast of the Communion, the grandma prepared a sort of pudding made up of buccellato dipped in sweet wine and interlayered with cream and strawberries...... what sweet memories....... enjoy!