3 hrs 45 mins
The twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day and end on January 6, which is called the Day of Three Kings or Feast of Epiphany. Befana, an old woman is said to bring gifts to children, hoping that one of them is the child king that she refused to acknowledge years ago. As the legend goes, Befana lived near Bethlehem. One night while preparing her supper of beans and bread, she heard a knock at the door. Before her stood the three kings in search of the Christ child. They asked Befana if she knew where He could be found. "I know of no king," she told them and quickly shut the door. As time passed, Befana kept thinking about the strange visitors and their quest to find the Christ child. So, with a sack filled with bread, she set out on her own in hopes of finding the child king. Every time she saw a baby boy, she broke off a crust of bread and gave it to the child, hoping that he might be the Child. To this day, Befana is still wandering the towns and villages looking for Him. Every year on the Feast of the Three Kings, the children of Italy await the arrival of Befana, who still leaves each child a small gift. This cake is traditionally made for the Feast of the Three Kings. Before the cake is baked, a large dried bean is added to the dough. The cake is presented on a crown and whoever receives the slice with the bean is king (or queen) for the day.
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- 1 1/4 cups raisins
- 1/2 cup diced candied lemon peel
- 1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
- 5 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1 large dried beans
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons coarse brown sugar
- 1Put the raisins in a bowl, cover with warm water and set aside.
- 2In another bowl, combine the candied lemon and orange peels and brandy and set aside.
- 3In another bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water.
- 4Add 1 cup of flour and mix until a sponge dough is formed.
- 5Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- 6Let the sponge dough rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
- 7In a food processor, combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.
- 8Add the butter, eggs, and milk, then remaining flour. Process to form a stiff dough.
- 9Add the risen sponge dough and process until well combined.
- 10Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes and smooth.
- 11Grease a large bowl, place the dough in and turn it once to coat both sides.
- 12Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- 13Butter a 10 x 3-1/2 inch deep round cake pan.
- 14Drain the raisins and candied citrus peels, reserving the brandy. Pat the fruit dry.
- 15Punch down the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- 16Pat the dough into a large rectangle.
- 17Sprinkle the raisins, candied peels, almonds and dried bean over the dough.
- 18Form the dough into a ball and knead to distribute the fruits and nuts.
- 19Place the dough in the cake pan, cover with a towel.
- 20Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- 21Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- 22In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, and reserved brandy.
- 23Brush the top of the cake with this mixture and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
- 24Bake 45 minutes until golden brown.
- 25Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- 26Run a knife around the side of the pan to loosen the cake and turn it onto a rack to cool.
- 27To serve, cut in wedges.
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Nutritional Facts for Befana Cake
Serving Size: 1 (154 g)
Servings Per Recipe: 10
- Amount Per Serving
- % Daily Value
- Calories 501.0
- Calories from Fat 139
- Total Fat 15.4 g
- Saturated Fat 6.9 g
- Cholesterol 87.3 mg
- Sodium 166.8 mg
- Total Carbohydrate 77.3 g
- Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
- Sugars 24.0 g
- Protein 11.0 g
The following items or measurements are not included:
candied lemon peel
candied orange peel