Granita al caffé con brioche

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In Sicily, breakfast tends to consist of a warm, freshly-baked brioche bun and a bowl of refreshing granita. This coffee granita recipe will bring a little bit of Sicilian sunshine into your own home.

First published in 2018
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A Sicilian institution, particularly when temperatures begin to rise, granita is a special sort of slush made with just water sugar and, often, fruit. An exception is granita al caffé, which consists of nothing more than frozen coffee and sugar.

Often consumed for breakfast alongside a warm brioche (or brioscia) col tuppo (the traditional bun with a knot at the top), granita al caffé is at home in the town of Messina. There, it’s often served topped with fresh whipped cream, a combination that locals refer to as “mezza con panna”.

Below are the recipes to reproduce this quintessentially Sicilian breakfast at home. The process to make the buns is a bit lengthy, but it’s definitely worth the hassle. As for the granita, just remember to scrape it with a fork every so often. Other than that, it’s rather hassle-free.




Brioche buns

  • 220g of whole milk, plus more for brushing
  • 8g of fresh yeast
  • 425g of strong bread flour
  • 125g of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 80g of butter, softened
  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the granita:

  • 500ml of coffee, very strong
  • 5 tbsp of caster sugar
  • whipped cream, (optional)


  • Food mixer with paddle attachment
  • Dough hook for mixer


To make the brioche buns, begin 24 hours prior to when you wish to eat them. Start by making a poolish. In a small saucepan set over a low heat, bring 150g milk to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and stir in half of the yeast until it is completely dissolved
Add 25g strong bread flour and 25g plain flour and whisk to combine. Transfer this poolish to an air-tight container and place it in the fridge to mature for 7–8 hours
Once matured, take the poolish out of the fridge. Bring the remaining milk (70g) to a simmer and stir in the honey and remaining yeast. Set aside
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the remaining strong and plain flour with the sugar. Add the poolish and mix at a low speed until combined. Pour in the milk with the yeast and honey in a thin stream and keep mixing until combined
Next, switch the paddle for the hook. Add the softened butter and two eggs – one at the time. Knead at a medium speed until you have a perfectly smooth, elastic ball of dough
Wrap the bowl with the dough in cling film and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Next, place the bowl in the fridge and leave it there for 7–8 hours
Past this point, take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap it, cover it with a kitchen towel, and leave it to rise at room temperature for 8 additional hours. This is when you’ll see your dough gain volume and become puffy and light
Meanwhile, make the granita. Brew the coffee using a stove top percolator (moka pot). While still hot, stir in the sugar until dissolved. Allow the coffee to cool down to room temperature
Pour the sweetened coffee in a glass or plastic container and place it in the freezer. Every 2 hours, scrape and move the granita around with a fork as it starts to freeze, until you have something that resembles soft snowflakes – it should take about 6 hours in total
Time to shape the buns. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions. From each piece remove a small, thumb-sized piece – this will be your “tuppo”. Shape the larger pieces into balls by stretching the dough at the edges and folding it towards the centre. Place the larger balls, with the folded side down, onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, ensuring to leave some space between them so they have room to grow
Stretch and fold the smaller pieces of dough following the same technique. Gently press the small balls on top of the large ones so that they stick to each other. Cover the buns with kitchen towels and leave them to rise for 2 hours
Finally, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Whisk the remaining egg with a splash of milk and use this to brush the buns
Bake the buns, one tray at a time, for about 15 minutes, or until light and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and wrap them all together in a large kitchen towel – this will make them even softer. You can then leave them there until you’re ready to eat them, either warm or at room temperature
Spoon the granita into glasses or cups and serve right away – before it melts! – with a brioche by its side, which you can munch on or dip into the slush. If you like, you can also top your granita with a dollop of whipped cream

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Valeria Necchio is an Italian food writer and photographer with roots in the Venetian countryside.

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