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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Pane Tramvai | "Poor Man's" Panettone Recipe

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

This Italian sweet bread is reminiscent of panettone, but was made by poor workers who couldn't afford richer ingredients: like sugar! That's right, all the sweetness comes naturally from raisins. You won't believe how delicious this simple treat is until you try it!

Pane Tramvai | Italian Sweet Raisin Bread | "Poor Man's Panettone"

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:

Makes 2 loaves of bread. Please note that in the video above, we made half for demonstration purposes so the amounts may appear different.

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 4 1/8 cups (500g) bread flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 1 1/8 cup (280ml) water, or as needed

  • 1 tsp. (5g) active dried yeast

  • 3 1/2 tsp. (20g) salt

  • 2/3 cup (150g) room temperature butter, in small pieces

  • 3 1/3 cups (500g) raisins

You can knead this dough by hand, or use a stand mixer to save some time. In the former case, you'll want to work on a granite, marble or metal surface. If using the latter method, all the steps are the same except everything can be mixed right in the bowl of the mixer using a medium/slow speed and dough hook attachment.

Combine the flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add about half of the water and begin mixing it in by hand. When a very rough, crumbly dough forms mix in the salt, then add enough of the remaining water to form a soft dough that isn't very sticky.

Transfer the dough onto a smooth work surface and knead until it is uniform. Dust with flour if it's sticky. Flatten the dough into a pancake and press half of the butter pieces into it. Fold the dough and continue to knead until the butter is well-incorporated.

Flatten the dough again and repeat with the remaining butter. Keep kneading and folding! The dough will get very, very sticky but stick with it and keep working until the butter is very well mixed in—about 15 minutes of kneading by hand (less if using a mixer). Use a bench scraper if necessary to scoop the dough off the counter and fold it in half repeatedly.

Finally, flatten the dough out a third time and pour all of the raisins on top. Quickly knead them in so that they're evenly distributed. Gather the dough into a ball, place it in a mixing bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 1/2 hours. After it has risen, cut the dough in half and form each piece into a thick, sausage shape. Place both on a baking sheet (with plenty of space in between) that has been lightly dusted with flour, loosely cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.

When you're ready to bake, preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220C). Place the baking sheet directly from the fridge into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 355F (180C) and bake a further 20 minutes.

Serve warm or cold. Buon appetito!

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