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Last saturday Manuel and I have spent Yom Kippur fasting for 25 hours, repenting very much for all of our shortcomings… and counting the minutes until the fast was over.
What is it we were so eager to eat, after our 25 hours fast? The first answer is “anything edible we would come across”, possibly including the arm of the person praying next to us, if necessary. However, there is a better and more socially acceptable answer to the question, which is: bulo! The Jews of Tripoli like my family usually end their fast eating bulo, a delicious bread with raisins whose recipe is handed down from generation to generation, from mother to daughter.
Bulo bread for Yom Kippur
- 14 g active dry yeast (or 2 cubes fresh yeast)
- 1½ cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 eggs plus some egg yolk to brush the rolls
- 1 cup sunflower oil
- 7½ cups all purpose flour (approximately)
- raisins, soaked, to taste (or chocolate chips)
- sesame seed for sprinkling
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar in water.
- Add the rest of the sugar, oil, and eggs, and stir well.
- Add the flour a little at a time, mixing and kneading with your hands. The resulting dough should be heavy and thick, more similar to a shortcrust pastry dough than to a bread-like dough.
- Let the dough rise for an hour, or until almost doubled in volume, then punch it down and add the raisins (previously soaked). As an alternative to raisins, children usually prefer their bulo with chocolate chips.
- Divide the dough into buns and let them rise, placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, for another hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 356° F.
- Brush the buns with egg yolk, sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional), and place them in the oven.
- Bake at 356° F for 10-12 minutes, then at 320° F for another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.
As you can guess from the picture, bulo is usually served with a cup of tea or coffee to wash it down, as this bread is somewhat dense and very nourishing. A proper Libyan mother brings to the synagogue not only bulo loaves for her family and friends, but also a large thermos of tea or coffee, to help people recover promptly after the long fast.