Catholic Recipe: Pane de San Giuseppe
Also Called: St. Joseph's Bread
This Italian bread is made for the Feast of St. Joseph. This is one of the many recipes that could be used on the St. Joseph Altar, a Sicilian custom that has spread to many countries.
Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, honey, water, salt, aniseed and butter in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, approximately 10 minutes. Add raisins. Beat for another 10 minutes, adding remaining flour, a third at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface (preferably wooden board). Knead 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness. Lightly oil a warmed (but not hot, running it under hot water is perfect) large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat oil on all sides of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until size is doubled (approximately 1 hour).
Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with corn meal or line the sheet with kitchen parchment paper. Punch down the dough. Shape into a long loaf (or see NOTE for other shapes). Place the loaf on the baking sheet and make three or four 1/2-inch diagonal slashes on the top. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk (approximately 30 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mist loaves with water or vinegar before baking and twice during baking. Bake about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
NOTE: Traditionally, the bread is shaped to look like a patriarch's (in this case, St. Joseph's) beard by making 5 torpedo loaves of graduated lengths, 1 long, 2 medium and 2 short. Place them close together on a baking sheet in this order: 1 short, 1 medium, 1 long, 1 medium, and 1 short. They will rise together to create St. Joseph's Beard.Recipe Source: Recipe Goldmine by Unknown, Unknown