J and I stumbled upon many paticcerrias selling pretty packages of panettones while we were in Italy in October. At that point, I thought that as much as the Italians (and the world) love their panettones, October seems a little early to be selling and buying panettones for Christmas. Perhaps, for the Italians, it’s the perfect excuse for an early Christmas
Panettone is a Italian festive bread made with eggs, butter, dried fruits and citrus zest and it is usually eaten over the Christmas season. Legend has it that a Milanese baker by the name of Toni created this fluffy, sweet, enriched bread. The “pan de Toni” (Bread of Toni’s) was eventually named Panettone as we now know and love.
This bread is wonderfully soft and fluffy because of the prolonged periods of proving. It’s so soft and fluffy that it’s like a cake-like bread! I made mine with dried apricots and figs but the wonderful thing is you can add any type of dried fruits you favour. Or for a more decadent panettone, how about alcohol soaked dried fruits. Nuts and chocolate chip? Why not? It sounds even more festive with these decadent additions (though not the most traditional).
While it isn’t too difficult to make your own panettone, it is pretty time-intensive. I guess that’s the reason people opt for store-bought panettones. But like most good things in life, it takes time.
When I bite into a slice of my toasted panettone, I had no doubt that it was time well-spent! I had mine with fig jam over breakfast with a cup of earl grey tea.
I hear that the Italians have panettone slices after their Christmas lunch, serving it with a glass of Moscato or Limoncello. Sounds like a good enough reason to bring out the alcohol!
Makes a 21-cm Panettone
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller Australia magazine
This panettone is delicious and great for breakfast! The prolonged fermentation and proving provides the bread with intense flavours and a wonderfully fluffy and light texture. It is indeed a time-consuming process but you will be well-rewarded with a fresh and preservative-free product to share with your family and friends!
Group 1 ingredients:
7g active dried yeast
70ml lukewarm water
60g bread flour
Group 2 ingredients:
25g caster sugar
65g bread flour
58g butter, cubed and softened
Group 3 ingredients:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt
110g butter, cubed and softened
300g bread flour
Group 4 ingredients:
280g dried fruits (soaked in lukewarm water for at least 1/2 hour and drained)
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 orange
1. Combine water and dried yeast and stir to dissolve and allow it to stand until creamy with some bubbles. (about 10 minutes) Stir in the flour until a smooth paste forms. Leave it to stand until it doubles in size and is frothy. (about 20 minutes)
2. Place the above mixture into a mixer and add the group 2 ingredients, holding back the butter. Beat to combine before adding the butter. When the mixture is smooth and incorporated, cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it sit in a dark, warm corner of your kitchen for about 1.5 hours, until doubled in size.
3. Add in group 3 ingredients to the above mixture and beat to combine. When it is combined, use a dough hook to knead till a smooth and soft dough for about 5-8 minutes. Turn it onto a floured surface and round the dough into a ball before placing dough into an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it sit in a dark, warm corner of your kitchen for another 2 – 2.5 hours, until triple in size.
4. Combine group 4 ingredients to get your dried fruit mixture. Roll out your dough into a 1cm thick oval and place half the dried fruit mixture before rolling it into round again. Repeat step to fold in the remaining half of the dried fruit mixture.
5. Shape into a ball and place it in a greased 21cm diameter, 10 cm deep, loose-bottomed cake tin. Cut a shallow cross on the dough and cover it with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Let it stand for about 2.5 hours more (or until doubled in size).
6. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celcius. bake for 20 minutes before reducing the oven temperature to 170 degrees celcius. Bake until golden brown, until an inserted skewer comes out clean. (About 45- 50 minutes) Check your panettone periodically to ensure that the top does not burn. Cover with some aluminum foil if the top gets too brown.
7. Cool in tin for half an hour before removing to cool on a wire rack. Serve it toasted with some marmalade and butter or with some mascarpone cream.
*Use a deep cake tin to achieve the look of a traditional Milanese Panettone.
*Do not attempt to shorten fermentation or proving times. In this case, patience does go a long way.
*Make mini- Panettones as Christmas gifts. Remember to reduce the baking time.