Maritozzi Uso Fornaio

Italian buns flavoured with pine nuts, orange rind and wine-soaked sultanas or raisins, Maritozzi Uso Fornaio (mah-ree- tot-zec oo-soh fohr-ny-yoh) are delicious served for tea, plain or buttered.

1 oz. fresh yeast

2 oz. plus

½ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon lukewarm water

4 fl. oz. milk

2 oz. butter, cut into small pieces

12 oz. flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 oz. sultanas or raisins

2 fl. oz. cup sweet white wine

1 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoons blanched pine nuts, coarsely chopped

3 oz. finely diced candied orange rind 1 egg yolk, well beaten with 1 tablespoons milk

Crumble the yeast into a small mixing bowl. With a fork, mash in ½ teaspoon of the sugar. Add the lukewarm water and cream the ingredients together to form a smooth paste. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the yeast mixture is puffed up and frothy.

Meanwhile, pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the butter pieces. Set the pan over moderate heat and scald the milk (bring to just under boiling point), stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool to lukewarm.

Sift the flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining sugar. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mix-ture, the beaten egg and the lukewarm milk and butter mixture. Using your fingers or a spatula, mix the liquids together, gradually drawing in the flour. Continue mixing until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball.

Rinse, dry and lightly grease the mixing bowl. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover with a clean, damp cloth. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to lg- hours, or until the dough has risen and doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine the sultanas or raisins and the wine. Set aside for 15 minutes, or until the sultanas or raisins are swollen. Drain off any excess wine and lightly pat the fruit dry with kitchen paper towels. Set the fruit aside.

Line a large baking sheet with non-stick silicone paper and set it aside.

Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface. With the heel of your hand, flatten the dough into an oblong.

Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the olive oil. Sprinkle over the sultanas or raisins, pine nuts and chopped candied orange rind.

Fold the dough over into three and knead it vigorously for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it is smooth and the fruit, nuts and oil are evenly blended into the dough.

Break the dough off into 8 equal pieces and roll the pieces between your hands into balls. Place the balls, well-spaced, on the prepared baking sheet.

Cover the dough with a clean, damp cloth and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the balls have risen and almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400°F (Gas Mark 6, 200°C).

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the balls with the egg yolk and milk mixture.

Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

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