Valle d'Aosta is famous for its rye bread. During Christmas time, this traditional bread becomes a sort of sweet panettone. Here's the recipe for Pain de Saint-Ours.

Pain de Saint-Ours by Mauro Morandin

Recipe for a Pain de Saint-Ours for ten people (about 2kg) by maestro Mauro Morandin requires two phases: an evening rise and a second dough made the following morning.

Ingredients for the evening rise

175 g sugar

190 g water

200 g egg yolks

200 g natural starter (sourdough)

400 g Manitoba flour

180 g butter

Ingredients for the morning dough

150 g Manitoba flour

70 g rye flour

50 g sugar

50 g chestnut honey

80 g egg yolks

50 g butter

12 g salt

200 g candied apple

100 g walnuts, minced

First rise

Place the sugar, half the egg yolks and half the water in a bowl (or stand mixer) and beat vigorously for at least 10 minutes. Add the flour and sourdough starter to the bowl/mixer and continue to knead. As the dough takes shape, add the remaining egg yolks and water. Only when the dough is formed and springy, add the butter. Pour the dough into a clean bowl, making sure it is only half full and let it rise overnight, or until the dough reaches at least double its volume.

Second dough

Put the dough from the previous evening in a larger container or baking dish and add the Manitoba flour and the rye flour. When the dough is formed and springy add the egg yolks, sugar, honey, butter, salt and candied fruit and nuts.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and divide into two 1-kg parts, or into four 500-gram pieces. Work the dough to obtain a ball that’s as spherical as possible, rotating it slightly during the process). Once the ball is formed, place it in the special paper ramekin.

After about 6 hours of leavening, at 30 degrees, the volume of the dough will have to be tripled and the surface shiny and taut. At this point carve a cross on the top (not with a knife but with a razor blade, so as not to break the dough) and bake in a 175 C oven, in fan mode.

Cook the 1 kg breads for about 50 minutes, and the 500 g breads for about 35 minutes. To check the humidity of the dough, try inserting a toothpick before removing it from the oven.

Once baked, the loaves must cool by hanging upside down overnight.