A fig and nut filled ring called a buccellato heralds Christmas in Sicily. Buccellato is also given by
godparents to their godchild and family on the christening day. The cake is supposed to be as
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried figs
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/2 cup Marsala or rum
Juice and zest of one orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Colored candy sprinkles (optional)
Candied fruit or maraschio cherries (optional)
To make the pastry:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Add the eggs,
milk, and vanilla. Mix until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Mix until the ingredients form a dough. Gather the dough into a ball and then
flatten into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or as long as overnight.
To make the filling:
In a food processor, combine the figs and walnuts. Pulse to chop coarsely.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the currants or raisins. Add the Marsala or rum,
orange juice and zest, cinnamon, and optional cloves. Cover and allow the
mixture to sit for 2-3 hours to absorb the liquid. Then stir in the honey and
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
To shape and bake the buccellato:
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a rectangle. Roll out into an
18 x 9-inch rectangle. Spoon the filling lengthwise in a 3-inch strip down the
center of the dough. Lift one long side of the dough over the filling. Fold the
other side over the top of the first. Press to seal. Gently transfer the log,
seam side down, onto the prepared baking sheet. Bring the ends together to
form a ring. Pinch ends together to seal. Use a fork to pierce the dough from
top to bottom in rows about 1/2-inch apart. Alternately, use a sharp knife to
make a series of decorative slashes around the cake. Bake until golden
brown, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool on the baking
sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer the cake to the rack to cool completely.
To make the sugar icing:
In a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Add water a
tablespoon at a time, until the icing is smooth. Icing should be fairly thick but
Brush the cake with the sugar icing. While the icing is still wet, decorate it
with chopped pistachios. Add decorative sprinkles, candied fruit, and/or
cherries, if desired. Serve at room temperature. To store, wrap tightly and
store at room temperature up to 3 days.
Roll the dough into a sheet 1/4-inch thick.
Cut 3-inch circles with a pastry cutter. Moisten
the edges with water. Place a teaspoon of
filling in the center of each. Fold the dough
over to form half-moons. Place on a greased
baking sheet. Bake in a 325 degree F. oven for
20-25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.