Fig and Nut Ring


or as they call it in Italy
Buccellato Siciliano

The end of December is always the beginning of a celebration period that lasts for a month in my home - after Christmas in December, there is obviously New Year's night, then my son's birthday (we had a lovely time yesterday, thank you very much) then our Orthodox Christmas which falls on the 6th  and 7th January.

I was looking for something new to try this year and this gorgeous ring caught my eye. Although Italian, it defines the food that we would eat at Christmas time perfectly. 
It requires a crimping tool, but I used a small ice cube picker with sharp edges, which didn't produce the exact pattern but gave the decorative effect that I was after.

Fig and Nut Ring
Buccellato Siciliano
recipe adapted from Cooking with Rosetta

  • Pastry
  • 395 g flour
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 170 g unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Filling:
  • 450 g dried figs
  • 100 g toasted almonds
  • 100 g toasted walnuts
  • 100 g toasted hazelnuts
  • handful of raisins and dried cranberries 
  • 100 g dark chocolate finely chopped 
  • 1 grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1/2 glass of sweet white wine
  • One egg for egg wash
  • Glaze
  • ¼ cup apricot or orange jam
  • One tablespoon of water
  • Garnish
  • Two tablespoons chopped raw pistachios, for garnish

Making the Dough
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse just a few times to combine them. Cut the butter into small cubes and add them to the food processor. Pulse until the butter is in small crumbs. Whisk the eggs with the lemon zest in a small bowl. With the machine running, add the eggs through the feed tube. Mix, then pulse a few times, until the mixture comes together around the blade. When you stop the mixer and pinch it between your fingers, the dough should hold together easily.Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Transfer the dough to the plastic wrap and press it together with your hands to form a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days.

Making the Filling
Remove all the stems from the dried figs. If the figs are very dry you can soak them in hot water for 15 minutes to plump up, but if the figs are very moist you can skip this step.Place the figs, nuts and raisins in a food processor and process until the nuts and figs are coarsely chopped. You will need a large food processor bowl to hold this mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined,  it should resemble a coarsely chopped mixture.Place the filling in a bowl and knead it till it comes together to make a sticky filling. Refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for a couple of hours or overnight. The filling can be made ahead up to two days ahead of time.
Shaping the Buccellato
Roll out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to a rectangle of 60 cm long by 20 cm wide. Place the pastry dough with the plastic wrap on top of a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator while you shape the filling.
Place the filling on top of the plastic wrap and use your hands to shape it into a log. Wrap it with the plastic and roll it to look like a salami, about 55 - 60 cm long. 
Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough leaving the bottom piece and place the filling in the middle of the pastry dough rectangle. Using the bottom sheet of plastic wrap to assist, bring the long sides of the dough pieces together, completely encasing the filling and seal. Place the dough with the seam down and roll it gently to completely seal the seam, keeping the ends open. Remove the plastic wrap and place the log on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape the log into a ring. You may need to gently and evenly elongate the dough by rolling it back and forth in order to bring the two ends close together to form a ring. Fit one end of the pastry inside the other so that the filling from the two ends is touching and then seal the dough. 
Once the Buccellato is shaped, place it in the fridge for an hour before you start the crimping work, as the dough needs to be cold but still pliable. If it is too stiff, let it sit out for 15 minutes until it is pliable. Create the pattern using the whatever you can find in your kitchen :ice tongs, fondant crimper, or even a fork. Starting on the inside of the ring, pinch the dough at a 45 degree angle (leaning right) around the bottom half of the inside. You want to crimp deep enough to expose some of the filling, and gather the dough inside the crimper to form a ridge. Repeat the same pattern on the outside of the dough, then crimp the top of the dough at an angle.
Once done, refrigerate it for a couple of hours or overnight.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F with a rack in the middle of the oven. It is important that the dough is chilled and the oven is hot, to minimize the pastry from losing it's pattern too much.
Remove the pastry ring from the refrigerator and before baking it, brush the entire Buccellato with an egg wash using a pastry brush. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or longer for the dough to turn a golden colour all over. 
Let the Buccellato cool for 15 minutes. While it is cooling prepare the jam glaze. Put the jam in a small pot with a tablespoon of water and heat it over medium heat until melted and liquid. Remove from the heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Glaze the entire Buccellato using a pastry brush and finish decorating by sprinkling the top of the Buccellato with chopped pistachio or with  some candied fruit then let it cool completely

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