Pan de Semita (Semitic Bread)

Converso Jews colonized the Mexican States of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas including what would become part of the state of Texas. Those who settled there in the 17th century brought Jewish food customs, such as this bread which is eaten around Passover and Lent.

¾ cup star anise
1 cone piloncillo (200 grams – about 1 cup)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold
½ cup raisins
½ cup pecans
2 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the star anise in 1 ½ cup of water over medium heat, bring simmer and let infuse for about 15 minutes. Let cool. Grate the piloncillo and set aside. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend for a few seconds to combine. Add the cold vegetable shortening and incorporate. Then add the piloncillo and blend until incorporated – it’s ok if the dough is a little chunky. Add the raisins and anise water and blend on medium until incorporated. Let the dough rest about 10 minutes. Divide the dough in two and roll each out on a floured surface until about ¼-inch thick. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Arrange the pecans in a circle, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 minutes

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