Fugassa Veneta

  • by Nonna Box April 22, 2022
  • |
  • Last Updated on April 21, 2022
fugassa veneta recipe

What is Fugassa Veneta?

Fugassa Veneta or “Venetian Focaccia,” is a yeasted sweet bread from Venice that is traditionally prepared and served for Easter. Although this bread was historically a dessert for the poor, it has become a famous staple in Italian cuisine. 

Easter doesn’t just mean chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs. There are many traditional Italian savory and sweet dishes that are Easter staples. Piedmont has the Easter ciambella,  Lombardy the Resta or Resca, the Marche the Pizza di Formaggio or Crescia, and in Emilia-Romagna the Zambela, which is a holeless ciambella.  Finally, the Venetian Fugassa is from the region between Venice and Treviso. Easter without fugassa is not really Easter. To understand why this sweet bread is such a staple in Italian cuisine let’s take a brief look at the history of this delicious bread. 

fugassa veneta whole

The “Poor” Dessert for the Holidays

Like almost all traditional Italian specialties, the origin of the Venetian fugassa is shrouded in legend. One account claims that Fugassa was invented by a Treviso baker, who made the bread dough with unusual ingredients, such as butter, eggs, honey and almonds. He only shared the soft unique dough with customers whom he considered to be virtuous and religious.  

Others argue that the origin of fugassa is closely linked to the Venetian focaccia, a poor and popular dessert, whose tradition is very ancient and dates back to the first centuries when early Christians celebrated and commemorated the Resurrection of Christ. In fact, until sugar became economically accessible and therefore, a widespread ingredient, this sort of sweet bread was prepared only on important holidays and feast days, such as Easter. As a way to celebrate, families added expensive and valuable ingredients to their bread dough, such as butter, eggs, and sugar. 

Finally, among the many causes for celebration, fugassa was also prepared as a way of celebrating official engagements. Fugassa was presented to the soon-to-be bride’s family and an engagement ring was hidden inside.

Is Fugassa Difficult to Make?

Leaving aside the history for a moment, there is no doubt that the Venetian fugassa is one of the oldest pastries in the Veneto region. What exactly does it consist of? It is a naturally leavened baked cake, which includes ingredients such as flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and marzipan, as well as almonds and sugar grains for the external icing. Generally, it comes in a round shape because it is cooked in circular molds with a variable diameter of about 25-30 cm (but it can also be prepared in the shape of a dove) and consists of a soft and light internal paste, of golden-yellow color. The preparation can be difficult because it includes different doughs that require three stages of leavening. This is necessary in order to obtain the correct softness. 

fugassa veneta recipe - sweet bread

The Recipe for Fugassa Veneta

Starting out as the “poor man’s” dessert, fugassa has evolved into a complex pastry that symbolizes luxury. Perhaps the most important ingredient for fugassa is patience. But like all good things that take time, the work is well worth the effort.   

Before proceeding, however, it is good to know that there are dozens, if not more, variations of this Easter cake. The recipe changes not only from region to region, or from city to city, but even from family to family. What we propose, therefore, is only “one” of the many variations. Let’s see how it is made!

fugassa veneta recipe

Fugassa Veneta

This traditional Easter sweet bread from Veneto is a delicious treat that is usually enjoyed during the holidays.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easter, fugassa, holiday, Panettone
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Resting and levening time: 1 day 7 hours
Total Time: 1 day 9 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 1 Fugassa
Calories: 3609kcal
Author: Nonna Box

Ingredients

  • 500 gr (4 cups) flour
  • 70 ml (2.37 floz) warm milk
  • 4 (4 ) eggs medium at room temperature
  • 20 g (4 tsp) fresh brewer's yeast if you have time for longer leavening you can reduce the quantity
  • 150 g (0.75 cups) sugar
  • 100 g (3.53 ounces) butter at room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 (1 ) orange and lemon peel grated

Glaze (option 1)

  • milk
  • butter
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar

Glaze (option 2)

  • 1 (1 ) egg white
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • q.s. (q.s.) almonds

Equipment

  • 1 Kitchen mixer optional

Instructions

  • To prepare the leaven, in a glass container, dissolve the brewer's yeast in warm milk, adding 20 grams of sugar and 100 grams of flour. Mix everything vigorously to obtain a soft dough: wrap with a slightly damp cloth (or plastic wrap) and let it rest in a warm place for about an hour.
  • After one hour, you can prepare the first dough. On a pastry board (or in a kitchen mixer), add the 200 grams of flour, the two eggs and 80 grams of sugar. Then, add the leavened dough and start working on everything until the dough is elastic. At this point, add the 50 grams of soft butter into small pieces (or melted in a bain-marie) and continue to work for about 30 minutes. Your mixture should be smooth and soft. Shape the mixture into a ball and let it rest covered in a warm place for 3 hours. (The volume should double at the end of this stage.)
  • To prepare the second dough, on the pastry board (or in the kitchen mixer), add the remaining part of the flour (about 200 g), 50 grams of sugar, 2 eggs, salt and 50 grams of soft butter. Next, add the lemon and orange peels. Knead everything, then add it to the first dough, which will have risen in the meantime.
  • Continue to work until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic, but without being sticky. It will take a little longer, even 45 minutes (the dough will be ready when it comes off in a single block).
  • At this point, let it rest once again covered with a slightly damp cloth. (The dough must rest until the volume doubles. Preferably, you should let it rest overnight.)
  • The next morning (or, when it has doubled), deflate the dough and form a ball. Put it in a special mold and leave it to rise again in a warm, covered place for another 3 hours. By the end of this time the dough should reach the edge of the mold.
  • Leave the dough uncovered for 10-15 minutes, so that a light film forms on the surface. With a sharp knife, make a cross-cut.
  • You have two options for the icing. The simpler one consists of brushing the surface with milk, adding a few pieces of butter, and sprinkling the surface with granulated sugar. The richer version consists of whipping an egg white with some sugar, brushing the mixture on the dough surface, and finally sprinkling the surface with granulated sugar and a handful of almonds.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. When at temperature, place your dough in the oven.
  • After approximately 15 minutes, or when the fugassa is beginning to change color, cover it with aluminum foil and bake for another 45-50 minutes. Once you remove the fugassa from the oven, let it cool.
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How to store the Fugassa?

The fugassa may be stored for several days. Make sure it completely cools before saving it in an airtight plastic bag.

Once cold, it can be stored for a few days in a tightly closed plastic bag for food.

Fugassa  Veneta vs. Easter Colomba: What are the differences?

The Venetian Fugassa is an alternative to the traditional Easter Colomba. Not so long ago it was little known outside of the Venetian region, but now it has spread throughout Italy.  The preparation of Fugassa and Easter Colomba is very similar and even the two finished products look alike. So, you may be wondering, what is the difference between Fugassa and Easter Colomba? Apparently, the chief difference lies in the scents and aromas of the breads. Fugassa contains orange and lemon peels and hence has a citrus scent. There are also variations that add turmeric to brighten the dough, or even rum or marsala.  

 

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