For Bread Baking Babes bread bake of the months this time was chosen a Ciambella Mandorlata. The Source of the recipe . I just copy down Aparna’s text. I made a few changes and described it in the notes.
Ciambella Mandorlata originated in Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region. It is typically baked in the shape of a twisted ring. The ring shape of the bread is supposed to represent the unity of the family.
The name is self explanatory if one knows Italian. Ciambella describes any ring shaped cake and Mandorla is the word for almonds. So this ring shaped bread has a soft brioche-like texture and is decorated with a crunchy sweet cinnamon spiced almond topping. Though baked for Easter, it is generally eaten throughout the year, and mostly at breakfast.
For the dough:
2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk*
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour**
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 3 lemons
100 g unsalted butter soft at room temperature
2 eggs beaten lightly
1/2 tsp almond extract***
1/2 tsp lemon extract***
1/2 cup water*
For the topping:
4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
1 egg yolk + tbs water
For the Dough :
You can knead the dough by hand or in a machine. As always, I use my food processor on low speed and finish off the kneading by hand.
Mix the yeast and the milk in a small bowl. Let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes till frothy. Mix the flour,salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the butter, eggs, extracts and dissolved yeast.
Mix in the flour from the sides of the well. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to form a soft, sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, springy, and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 4 hours. Punch down the dough, then let rest, covered with a dish towel, for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a 16-inch-long rope. Twist the two dough ropes together.
Place the dough rope on a buttered baking sheet. Shape it into a ring by bringing the two ends of the rope together. Pinch them to seal and cover with a dish towel. Proof until doubled in size, about 11 ⁄2 hours.
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.
Bake at 200C (400F) in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
*I used mixture of dry milk and water. 3 tablespoons of the Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder mixed with 1 cup of water.
**50/50 pf all-pupose and bread flour
*** I used 1 teaspon of Fiori di Sicilia
I used my bread proofer box at 77°F. Risning time was 3 hours.
I would skip cinnamon and sugar mixture next time and bake only with almonds.