Ring Shaped Sweet Bread

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 7h 25m

Serves 12 Generously

Bolo is Spanish for "ball" or "bun." This dessert, also called bollo, has been throughly assimilated into the Italian baking repertoire. Every region seems to have a version of the fabulous sweet bread. It is called busola in the Veneto, buccellato in most of Tuscany and ciambella in the town of Lucca. Buccellato means "bracelet," and the name comes from the fact that the cake is traditionally formed into a ring. I have found recipes for this in Tunisian cookbooks as well, due to the many Livornese Jews who settled there. The cake's Jewish origins are revealed in finding some versions that call for milk instead of water and butter instead of oil, depending upon whether the sweet is to be served at a dairy meal or not. Some recipes add a bit of orange flower water or marsala to scent the dough. Bolo is usually served at Sukkot. I like it toasted for breakfast!


  • For Sponge:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 envelopes (4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 105 degrees F)
  • For Dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water (about 105 degrees F)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons anise seed


To make the sponge, place the flour in a small bowl. In another small bowl, stir the yeast into the warm water, then add the mixture to the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until frothy and doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

To maker the dough, in the bowl of a strand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, warm water, salt, citrus zests, eggs and olive oil. Beat to mix well. Add the sponge and beat on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and anise and mix gently. Turn into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Punch down and fold the dough over onto itself a few times. Divide the dough in half. Using your palms, roll half the dough into a log 20 to 24 inches long. Place on a prepared baking sheet and connect the ends of the log to form a circle. Repeat with the other half of the dough and place it on the other baking sheet. (You can also make 1 giant ring, forming the dough into a single log of 30 inches long and then connecting the ends to form a circle.) Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake until golden, 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely. To store, cool, then wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.

RecID 1678

nutrition information per serving

319 calories; 7g total fat; 71mg cholesterol; 121mg sodium; 58g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 7g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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