These buns are made on Good Friday. This recipe is adapted from Carol Field's recipe in Celebrating Italy.
1 teaspoon (2 g) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, warmed to 105 degrees F (400 C.)
1/4 cup (40 g) pastry or an bleached all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk (cold if using the food processor)
2 teaspoons vanilla cytract (optional)
9 tablespoons (125 g) unsalted butter, lard, or margarine, at room temperature (cold if using the food processor)
3 1/3 cups (500 g) pastry or 3 cups (450 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten (you can freeze the yolk if you wish)
TO make the sponge, stir the yeast and the sugar into the warm milk and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour.
COVER well with plastic wrap and leave until it is frothv and bubbly, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
BY HAND: stir the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla, if using, into the sponge. Mix in the butter Combine the flour, sugar, and salt and add in 3 additions, stirring for about 3 minutes.
KNEAD on a lightly floured board , adding as little flour as possible, until silky and elastic, 5 to 6 minutes.
MIXER: put the sponge in the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the egg yolks, milk, vanilla, if using, and butter and mix about 1 minute. Add the flour, sugar, and salt and mix on low speed. Change to the dough hook and knead for about 3 minutes on niedium speed. This dough won't come entirelv away from the sides or bottom of the bowl. Knead briefly on a lightly floured work surface
FOOD PROCESSOR: put the flour , sugar and salt into the processor fitted with either the dough blade or steel blade.
Pulse 2 or 3 times to mix. Place the sponge and cold butter cut into 8 or 9 pieces. on top of it. Mix the egg yolks, cold milk, and vanilla, if using, in a cup and, with the motor running, pour the mixture down the feed lube. Process until the mixture forms a dough. Process 30 seconds longer to knead.
FOR the first rise, put the dough in an oiled container and cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled. 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
FOR the shaping and second rise, divide the dough into 10 to 12 pieces, form each into a round, and set on oiled or parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover well with towels and let rise again until the rolls have about doubled, about 45 minutes.
PREHEAT the oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C.).
JUST before baking, imagine a cross in the centers of the rolls and snip little V-shaped cuts un each quadrant so dicy will open up.
BRUSH the tops of the rolls with heaten egg white and bake 20 10 25 minutes.
COOL on a rack.
N 0 T E. The rolls are often glazed with a simple sugar icing and decorated with colored sugar sprinkles.