A Venetian yeast cake traditionally eaten at Easter time, this sweet focaccia pasquale is now found all year round in Venice. Unlike French brioche, it has quite a dense crumb and contains less butter and eggs. It is eaten for breakfast dipped in caffe latte, or as an afternoon snack, plain or spread with jam.
2 Hours 50 Minutes resting time
WHAT YOU NEED
20g fresh yeast
80-100ml lukewarm milk
600g plain flour, plus extra, for the cake tin
100g butter, softened
1 teaspoon fine salt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed)
4 egg yolks
30g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
150g icing sugar
1 egg white
120g toasted almonds, chopped
what to do
Combine the fresh yeast with the lukewarm milk into a mixing bowl, then add 150g of the flour and work the mixture together briefly to combine. (If you are using dried yeast, combine it directly with the flour, then add the milk). Cover and let this mixture rest for 20 minutes.
Cut the softened butter into small pieces and mix them into the yeast mixture. Add the sugar, salt, lemon zest, milk and rum, then the remaining flour and the egg yolks, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Knead the dough well by hand or use an electric stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for two hours in a warm 924°C place: the dough should double in size.
Knead the dough again for a few seconds, divide it into 16 portions and brush each portion generously with melted butter. Grease and flour a 26cm round cake tin. Shape the dough portions into balls and arrange them in the tin. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the balls of dough with the beaten egg. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, if using, lightly beat the icing sugar with the egg white and rum until the mixture is smooth. Pour over the focaccia while it is still warm and scatter with the chopped almonds.
The focaccia pasquale will keep, wrapped in plastic, for up to two days.