Easter Recipe: Schiacciata Pasquale Cake

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TTuscan Easter cake that you may have heard about or tasted during a trip to Tuscany, albeit it must have been during Easter time, as it is not available beforehand and afterwards. The Schiacciata Pasquale.
The recipe is very simple, and the preparation, although a bit long due to the rising time, is very easy. This is a delicious cake to eat after the Easter lunch or dinner, and also makes for a great Easter breakfast.

The ingredients are:
350 g of water, 30 g of active brewer’s yeast, 1 pinch of salt, 500 g of flour, 200 grams of sugar, 5 eggs, 80 grams of UNSALTED butter, 1 orange, 1 tablespoon of anise (fennel) seeds and 1 shot of Strega liquor. Now a note on Strega. This liquor might be a challenge to find outside of Italy. It belongs to the long score of Italian herbal liquors, and there is very little or no common substitute to Strega. You may try going ahead with Amaretto, but it is not the same thing.

The procedure:
In a large plastic bowl pour the water that you have previously warmed up (around 98 F or 38 C) and start dissolving the yeast in itadding the pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.
Cover it up and let it activate for 30 minutes in a warm environment or near a heat source (not too hot). After 30 minutes slowly add the flour in the bowl mixing continuously. Following the flour add the sugar in the same manner. Now scramble well 4 eggs in a separate deep dish and then add them to the mix in the bowl. Also add the butter after you have softened it at room temperature, the anise seeds, and the grated peel of the orange. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, then pass the dough on a kneading table and knead it until it’s a uniform and smooth ball.
Now cover it up (you can set it back in the mixing bowl paying attention that it does not have lumps from before) and let it rise again for 3 hours in a warm environment and sheltered from air flows.
After three hours get the dough and keep on kneading it adding the shot of liqueur. When all is mixed in, set the dough in a baking pan with high edges (10 cm or 5 inches) that you have previously smeared with a thin layer of butter and then sprinkled with flour (removing the excess flour when all the butter is well covered with flower).

Now start heating your oven up to 200 C or 392 F. While the oven heats up, separate the yolk from the white of the 5th egg and mix the yolk with very little water and a teaspoon of sugar. When it’s all mixed in, get a cook’s brush and start brushing the dough in the oven pan with the yolk mix, so to make it all shiny. Now the oven should be at the right temperature. Set the pan in the oven and cook for 40 minutes or until the surface has a golden brown color. With a long toothpick check if the inside is also cooked.

Done! Now you vcan serve and taste the Schiacciata Pasquale done the Tuscan way!