Panettone is a tall, fruit-filled Italian yeast bread, traditionally eaten during Christmas. I have been seeing several imported versions of this bread amidst the myriad of Christmas cakes and candy on sale these days.
Back home, my curiosity got me to run a google search to enlighten me on the origins and making of panettone. I was pleased to learn that it was something I could try making at home from simple ingredients. One of the interesting stories that I came across during my ‘research’ was:
A 15th-century legend from Milan credits the invention to the nobleman Ughetto Atellani, who fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. To win her over, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich bread to which he added flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied lemon and orange peel. The duke of Milan, agreed to the marriage and encouraged the launch of the new cake-like bread, Pan de Toni/Toni’s bread.
To give it height, panettone has to be baked in a special tubular mould. I did not have any such bakeware so I decided to improvise by adding height to my ordinary 20cm round baking tin with a strip of baking paper. The strip should be slightly longer than the circumference of your pan [2πr = 62.8cm]. I used one that was 65cm long and 14cm wide [twice the depth of my pan].
This technique worked quite well; my baked panettone was around 12cm high but collapsed by a few mm in the centre. To prevent this I’ll share the following tip that I unfortunately read about after baking my sweet bread.
To maintain the beautiful cupola-like dome of panettone, hang it upside down as it cools to room temperature. Pierce the bread with 2 long skewers and let these rest on supports of equal height on each side. Once it cools down, panettone can be halved and sandwiched with a layer of mascarpone.
20 g mixed peel
45 g raisins
40 g sultanas
10 g instant yeast
375 g + 50g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
75 g granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp orange rind
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 g unsalted butter, melted
150 ml lukewarm milk
- Grease a 20 cm round cake pan. Line the base with baking paper.
- Cut out a strip of paper that is as long as the circumference of your pan. It should also be twice the depth of your pan.
- Use this paper to tie a collar around the inner wall of the pan.
- Soak mixed peel, raisins and sultanas in warm water for 30 minutes while you weigh out and prepare the other ingredients.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast.
- Add eggs, orange rind, vanilla extract, milk and butter.
- Knead for about 10 minutes until dough is soft and smooth.
- Cover and leave to prove for 1 hour in a warm place.
- After the dough has doubled in size, turn out on a floured surface.
- Add the fruit mixture after you have drained it well.
- Throw in 50g extra flour and knead again for 5 minutes.
- The dough should no longer be sticky at this point.
- Press dough into prepared pan and it to prove for a second time for about 1 hour during which it will triple in size.
- Bake panettone in a preheated oven at 350 oF for 45-50 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped with a knuckle.
- Pierce cake with 2 long skewers and hang it upside down to cool to room temperature to prevent it from collapsing.
- Cut into wedges with a serrated knife and serve with coffee.
- Panettone is best eaten on the day it is baked.
Bake your panettone this Christmas!