Italians like their recipes and ingredients to have an origin. Knowing where something comes from give a sense of tradition and authority very important in Italian cuisine. Thus salsa amatriciana comes from the town of Amatrice, parmigiano-reggiano, is named for the twin provinces of Parma and Reggio d’Emilia, and risotto alla Milanese, comes from the city of Venice. OK, I’m joking there since it obviously comes from Milan but you get the point.
This recipe originates in the town of Subbiano, which touches the northern borders of the commune of Caprese Michelangelo and so is a very local dish. In fact, as with most recipes, there are local versions found in many different parts of the area, where it’s sometimes referred to as panina gialla, or yellow bread. In Subbiano itself, it’s also called panina di Pasqua, or Easter bread since it’s traditional to eat it for that festival. However, I find it makes a comforting winter tea-time treat or hearty breakfast, either on its own, or slathered with butter and one of the jams you’ve been dying to open since you made them in the summer. You can even toast it which has the effect of caramelizing some of the sugar.
Panina is a bit like a denser panettone but without the candied peel and a little less sweet. However, you could add candied peel, cherries, and even nuts to the mixture, but if you do, reduce the amount of sultanas, or it won’t rise. The traditional version of this bread is made with lard. However, if you prefer a lighter, or a vegetarian / vegan option, you can replace the lard with olive oil. Finally, in Italy saffron powder is widely used but saffron strands will obviously do: and if you like the taste of saffron, doubling the amount give the bread a delicious edge.
Panina di Subbiano
250g (2 cups) flour
10g (1/3 ounce) fresh yeast
35g (1 ounce) lard or olive oil
4g ( a pinch) salt
40g (1 1/2 ounces) sugar
250g (1 1/2 cups) sultanas
1g saffron powder
150g (2/3 cup) water
- In a stand mixer, mix together the flour, yeast, lard, salt, and sugar until combined.
- Then add the sultanas, and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout.
- Dissolve the saffron powder in the water. Then add to the other ingredients and mix until it comes together to form a sticky dough.
- Cover with a damp cloth, and leave in a warm place for two hours. During this time, the mixture should double in size.
- Butter a cake tin and then put the mixture in the bottom. Press it into the sides of the tin and make sure the top is flat and level.
- Cover the tin with a damp cloth and then leave in a warm place for another two hours. During this time, the mixture should once again double in size.
- While you are waiting, heat the oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
- Bake the bread for 30 minutes or until brown on top. Remove from the tin and leave to cool before serving.