PANETTONE TIME!

Panettone is a classic bread from Italy, very popular during Christmas festivities. I dare to say that it is almost equally popular in Brazil. Brazilians for the most part need to have the end-of-the-year panettone fix, as if mandatory.  Growing up, I would not touch it, picky eater that I was. Crystallized, dried fruit? Me? No, not happening. At some point I opened my horizons a little and would go for a nibble on a small piece. But I was never a big fan, to me it seemed too dry, with a bit of an unpleasant texture. Toasted, with a decent spread of butter, wast the only way to enjoy it. Phil had never tried any until we found ourselves in São Paulo many Decembers ago. He fell deeply in love with it. Over the years he’s also tried other kinds, like those studded with chocolate chips, called “Chocottone” in Brazil. His favorite? The classic version, from Bauducco. Raisins and dried fruits. Not sure what happened this year, but I got an intense desire to bake the version of his dreams. I went the extra mile and got all the necessary toys and gadgets for it. It paid off, big time!

 

PANETTONE
(adapted from The Fresh Loaf)

Pre-ferment
6 oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
8 oz (1 cup) milk
1/4 t instant yeast (regular yeast is fine)

Fruit Soaker:
1 cups diced dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, apricots, dates)
1/2 cup candied orange peel
2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup rum + 1/2 cup water

Final Dough:
1 pound (3 cups) all-purpose flour (plus 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup more as necessary)
soaking liquid for fruits
2 eggs
2 oz (1/3 cup) sugar
1/2 t Fiori di Sicilia extract
1 t salt
1 T instant yeast (I used this one which is osmo-tolerant)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened, cut in several pieces
soaked, drained fruits, orange peel
grated zest of one orange

The night before, mix up the preferment with instant yeast. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

The next morning, mix the dried fruits with the rum and water and let soak for 30 minutes.

Make the final dough: drain the fruit, reserving the soaking liquid. Add to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer fitted with the dough hook the pre-ferment, the flour, liquid from the soaked fruits, sugar, eggs, salt and osmo-tolerant yeast.  Mix the dough for 5 minutes, then add the pieces of butter, one by one. Once all the butter is added, continue kneading in the machine for 5 more minutes.

Add the soaked fruits, the candied orange peel and the fresh orange zest and mix gently, adding additional flour as necessary to get it to a proper consistency, so that it is slightly sticky but can be handled by hand.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for two to three hours. If using osmo-tolerant yeast, it might be fully risen by 2 hours.

Split the dough into the necessary number of pieces you need for the loaves you want to make. I used 3/4 of the dough to make a big panettone in the traditional pan (6 in diameter, 6 in high). The rest of the dough I baked in a small springform pan. Shape the dough, place them into the molds, cover lightly and let them rise for two to three hours again. If using osmo-tolerant yeast, they could be ready to bake in 90 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 F.

Bake until nicely browned and the internal temperature registers 185F. My big panettone took 55 minutes to bake, the smaller one, using about 1/4 of the dough, was ready in 25 minutes. A thermometer to check the temperature really helps. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: In case you are wondering, there are countless recipes for panettone out there. Using regular yeast, wild yeast, osmo-tolerant  yeast, pre-ferment, overnight fermentation in the fridge, you think about one particular condition, and someone has already tried – and formed a strong opinion about it. They all involve a rich dough, containing sugar, milk, butter, and eggs – think in the direction of brioche and you’ll be close. They must include raisins, and orange peel. Sometimes other dried fruits, sometimes almonds. They must all be baked in a tall pan, to form a nice domed structure. And if you want the real authentic flavor, skip the vanilla and go for Fiori di Sicilia. That gives it the real characteristic flavor we all associate with panettone. If you don’t have osmo-tolerant yeast, you can use regular instant. You should then expect longer proofing times, like those specified in the recipe. I suspect I could have used less osmo-tolerant yeast, as the dough rose really fast. Live and learn.

My second, small loaf, made with 1/4 of the dough.

I read a ton of recipes before settling on my version, that joins The Fresh Loaf with some technical advice from America’s Test Kitchen.  I enjoyed baking this bread so much and it was so well-received by our colleagues, that I intend to make it again before 2018 says goodbye. Moist, flavorful, sweet but with a sour tang, the smell that lingered in the kitchen after baking was something! Can you tell how happy I am about this bake? I was on top of the world…

I took the panettone all sliced up to the department two days after baking. It was a bit past its prime, but still very tasty. Compliments galore, and by 10am everything was gone. Not even a crumb left. What more could I ask?

Notes to self: if repeating this exact recipe, I will cut the amounts by half. It will make the right amount for the panettone pan I have, which is 6 inches in diameter, 6 inches high.

Two tempting options to try: this version from Paul Hollywood, and this version from my virtual sister Susan. Decisions, decisions…

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FIVE YEARS AGO: Revenge of the Two Derelicts

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BBA#24: PANETTONE

Here we are, at bread number 24 of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, started by Nicole from “Pinch My Salt“. Read all about it here.

Panettone, the traditional Italian fruit bread, is very popular in two of my former homes, Sao Paulo and Paris, during Christmas.  I wish I could say it brings back fond memories of childhood, but the truth is that I never cared for it. In my memory, panettone was a dry, chalky bread with hardened pieces of fruit in the crumb.  What can I say?  I was a difficult child. 😉

Nevertheless, Peter Reinhart says that this recipe, which is more involved than most, produces the best panettone in the world.  I was a bit skeptical, but gathered up all the ingredients and hoped for the best.

Was it good?  Oh, YESSS!  The best in the world?  Well, I haven’t sampled that many, but my husband considers himself a panettone connoisseur, and he and I agreed that this was the best we’ve ever had, by far. The crumb was moist and velvety, with the right amount of fruit and sweetness, plus that unmistakable hint of “fiori di Sicilia“, the extract that gives panettone its characteristic holiday flavor. It was impossible to eat just a single slice of this bread…and we shouldn’t have brought out the butter…in a few minutes nearly half the loaf was gone!  The other half will make some graduate students very happy tomorrow!

This is it!  The panettone for this year’s holidays!

crumb

The recipe needs advance planning, as it uses a wild yeast sponge (mixture of water, flour, and a sourdough starter) as part of the final dough.  The fruits soak in rum, orange and fiore di sicilia extracts overnight.  The process went smoothly, my loaf is a little shallow because since I didnn’t have a 6-inch pan, mine was 7.5 inches in diameter.

This is the wild yeast sponge ready to go into the dough…. sponge2

Dried fruits soaking in rum, orange and fiore de sicilia extracts

IMG_2623

The dough smells wonderful from the very beginning….

dough1

dough2

dough3

Ready to go into the oven…

dough4

Just out of the oven…

baked1

Check out the panettone posts by other bakers following along the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge:

Oggi, from I Can Do That

Mags, from “The Other Side of Fifty”

TxFarmer, from Sina.blog