Pan tramvai is a speciality from Lombardy. But it is only the original if there are as many raisins in the bread as there is flour. Even in Italy, people often no longer know why this has to be the case: the many raisins symbolise the workers who once travelled between Monza and Milan.
The tram bread
In 1867, Italy's first tram line opened between Milan and Monza. Initially still pulled by horses, it went from town to town over more than 20 kilometres around farms and fields. Depending on the weather, it took between one and a half and three hours. No wonder the passengers got hungry. Bread with lots of raisins, pan tramvai (tramway bread), proved its worth and soon became a sales hit at every stop. This did not change when the tram was electrified in 1915 and commuters reached their destination faster.
Perfect holiday bread
The "tramway bread" did not cost much. Quite in contrast to the other sweet breads that are usually served during the Christmas and Easter holidays in Italy: the airy panettone or pandoro and the colomba, the Easter “dove”. Those who could not or did not want to afford these delicacies also opted for pan tramvai on festive days. Incidentally, the raisin bread was and is not always eaten plain. Many love it topped with bacon or salami. The savoury-sweet contrast tastes great. You can also try crispy raisin bread crostini with raw ham.
- 250 g flour, universal
- 130 g water
- 3 g fresh yeast, 1 g dried yeast
- 150 g water
- 20 g fresh yeast, 7 g dried yeast
- 250 g flour, universal
- 10 g salt
- 40 g butter, at room temperature
- 500 g raisins
- For the preferment, dissolve the yeast in water. Gradually add the flour and mix well. Cover the bowl and leave to rest in the fridge overnight (up to 18 hours). Cover the raisins with water and allow them to rest overnight as well.
- For the dough, the next day dissolve 20 g yeast in 150 g water. Then mix the preferment in it. Slowly add the remaining flour and knead everything into a homogeneous dough. Add the salt and butter and knead for another 20 minutes or until the dough comes away from the sides of the mixing bowl or the work surface. Drain the raisins from the water and pat dry.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and flatten gently to form a large, flat square. Cover the surface of the dough evenly with the raisins. Now roll up the dough, first lengthwise, then widthwise. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the process of stretching and rolling 2 more times. The dough rests for a total of 90 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (top and bottom heat). Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form baguette-like rolls. Bake these for about 30-40 minutes. The pani tramvai are ready when they are nice and crispy on the outside and the inside has reached a temperature of 96° C.