The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina who challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread! Marcellina lives in a little town in far northern Australia which is known as ‘Little Italy’ due to its predominantly Italian heritage and culture. Being born of Italian parents in this very Italian town, Italian food was and still is, just part and parcel of her life.

Traditionally, Panettone was eaten by the Milanese but now it is available all through Italy and in many parts of the world. There are many stories and legends of the Panettone but the one recounted by Carol Field is that of a rich young Milanese noble who fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker whose name was Tony (Antonio). The nobleman wanted to marry the baker’s daughter so he ensured the baker had at his disposal the very best ingredients – eggs, butter, flour, candied orange peel, citron and sultanas.

The baker created a wonderful bread which became known as pan di Tonio (Tony’s bread) and thus found his fame and fortune and the nobleman honorably married the baker’s daughter. The original Panettone was made from wild yeast but this one with commercial active dry yeast works well. If you do not like dried or candied fruit, simply substitute with chocolate chips or nuts. You can also try dried date and walnuts or dried cranberries and white chocolate combinations. Flavour it however you like – soak your fruit in rum or brandy or coffee.

The very first panettone I baked a couple of years back was a traditional one with raisins, sultanas and candied peel. This month’s Daring Bakers challenge gave me the opportunity to have a second go at this detectable brioche-like sweet bread. I only wish I had time to try the other combinations before the deadline but with my new job, life has turned hectic once again. I can only hope that the adjustment period gets over soon and I can be back to my usual, efficient self.

PANETTONE

Ingredients:

For the Candied Orange Peel

9 thin skinned oranges

3½ cups (800 gm) (28 oz) sugar

¼ cup (60 ml) corn syrup

Water as needed

Granulated sugar

For the Sponge

1 satchel (2¼ teaspoons) (7 gm) active dry yeast

1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water

½ cup (70 gm) unbleached all purpose flour

For the First Dough

1 satchel (2¼ teaspoons) (7 gm) active dry yeast

3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water

2 large eggs, at room temp

1¼ cup (175 gm) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour

¼ cup (55 gm) (2 oz) sugar

½ cup (1 stick) (115 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Second Dough

2 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

2/3 cup (150 gm) (5-2/3 oz) sugar

3 tablespoons (45 ml) honey

1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract

1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon essence/extract

1 teaspoon (5 ml) orange essence/extract

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

1 cup (2 sticks) (225 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups (420 gm) (15 oz) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour; plus up to (2/3 cup) 100 gm for kneading

For the Filling and Final Dough

1½ cups (250 gm) (9 oz) golden raisins or golden sultanas

½ cup (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) candied citron

½ cup (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) candied orange peel

Grated zest of 1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 to 3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) (15-25 gm) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour

For the Almond Glaze

1 cup (140 gm) (5 oz) whole blanched almonds

1 cup (125 gm) (4 ½ oz) confectioners’ (icing) sugar

2 tablespoons (18 gm) (2/3 oz) whole wheat flour

3 large egg whites, room temperature

3 tablespoons (45 ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil

Few drops of almond essence, to your taste

Pearl sugar, flaked almonds or demerara (coarse crystal) sugar to decorate

Method:

For the Candied Orange Peel

  • Wash and dry oranges then cut the tops and bottoms off. Cut into 6 or 8 pieces vertically.
  • Remove the flesh with a sharp knife. Put the peels in a large saucepan and cover with water.
  • Cook slowly over gently heat until the peels are tender for about ¾ hour to 1 hour.
  • Drain and cover with fresh water. Sit for an hour or up to overnight. Drain.
  • Into another large saucepan pour 2 cups of water. Mix in the sugar and the corn syrup.
  • Bring mixture to boil then add peels. Partially cover the pan. Reduce heat to very low.
  • Using a candy thermometer, adjust the temperature so that (212°F to 222°F) 100°C to 105°C is maintained.
  • After 2 hours, remove the lid. Raise temperature to (235°F) 110°C so that it boils and the water evaporates.
  • Turn off the heat and wait until the bubbles subside. Scoop out the peels with a slotted spoon.
  • Place on a rack to cool and dry. Roll in sugar and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

For the Sponge

  • Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl and allow to stand until creamy for about 10 minutes or so.
  • Mix in the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size for about 20 to 30 minutes.

First Dough

By Hand:

  • Mix the yeast and water in a large bowl and allow to stand until creamy, again for about 10 minutes or so.
  • Mix in the sponge and beat well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the eggs, flour and sugar.
  • Mix in the butter well. This should only take about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow double in size, about 1 to 1 ¼ hours.

By Mixer:

  • In the mixer bowl, mix together the yeast and water and allow to stand until creamy for about 10 minutes or so.
  • With the paddle attached mix in the sponge, eggs, flour, and sugar. Add in the butter.
  • Mix for 3 minutes until dough is smooth and even. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow double in size, about 1 to 1 ¼ hours.

Second Dough

By Hand:

  • Be sure to have your dough in a large bowl as above.
  • With a wooden spoon mix in eggs, egg yolk, sugar, honey, vanilla, essences/extracts and salt.
  • Mix in butter. Then add flour. Stir until smooth. At this stage the dough will seem a little too soft, like cookie dough.
  • Turn it out and knead it on a well-floured surface until it sort of holds its shape. Don’t knead in too much flour.
  • You may need as much as 2/3 cup (100 gm). Be careful the excess flour will affect the finished product.

By Mixer:

  • With the paddle mix in thoroughly eggs, egg yolks, sugar, honey, vanilla, essences/extracts, and salt.
  • Mix in the butter until smooth. Add the flour and slowly incorporate.
  • At this stage the dough will seem a little too soft, like cookie dough.
  • Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead for about 2 minutes.
  • Turn out the dough and knead it on a well-floured surface until it sort of holds its shape.
  • Don’t knead in too much flour but you may need as much as 2/3 cup (100 gm).
  • Be careful the excess flour will affect the finished product.

First Rise

  • Oil a large bowl lightly, plop in your dough and cover with plastic wrap
  • Now we need to let it rise until it has tripled in size. There are two ways to go about this.
  • Rise in a warm place for 2 to 4 hours or find a cool spot (64°F – 68°F) (18°C – 20°C) and rise overnight.
  • Or rise for 2 hours on your kitchen bench then slow the rise down and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Filling and Final Rise

  • Soak the raisin/sultanas in water 30 minutes before the end of the first rise. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Now take your dough and cut it in half. Remember we are making two panettoni.
  • Combine all your filling ingredients and mix well. Press out one portion of dough into an oval shape.
  • Sprinkle over one quarter of the filling and roll up the dough into a log.
  • Press out again into an oval shape and sprinkle over another quarter of the filling.

  • Roll into a log shape again. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
  • Shape each into a ball and slip into your prepared pans, panettone papers or homemade panettone papers.
  • Cut an X into the top of each panettone and allow to double in size.
  • Rising time will vary according to method of first rise. If it has been in the refrigerator it could take 4 hours or more.
  • If it has been rising on the kitchen bench in a warm place it should be doubled in about 2 hours.

Almond Glaze

  • Process almond, confectioners’ sugar and flour until the nuts are finely chopped and well blended.
  • Mix in the egg whites, oil and essence. Process to combine. It is meant to be thick and glue like.
  • When the panettoni are well risen carefully spread half the mixture over the top.
  • Keep well away from the edges because the glaze will melt and spread.

Baking

  • When the dough has only about 30 minutes left to rise, preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
  • Adjust your oven racks. Just before baking carefully cut the X into the dough again. Do not deflate it!
  • Place in a knob (a nut) of butter. Place your panettoni in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and bake for another 10 minutes.

  • Reduce the heat again to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3 and bake for 30 minutes.
  • The tops should be well browned and a skewer inserted into the panettone comes out clean.
  • Cooling your panettone is also important. If you have use papers, lie your panettoni on their side cushioned with rolled up towels.
  • Turn gently as they cool. If you have used pans cool in the pans for 30 minutes then remove and cushion with towels as above.

  • Panettone can also be cooled suspended. Insert clean knitting needles into the bottom of the panettone in a X shape.
  • Flip over and support the knitting needles on the edges of a large saucepan with the panettone suspended within the saucepan.
  • Once your panettone is thoroughly cooled, place in a large plastic bag or container and it will keep quite well maybe for a week.
  • At first the panettone is soft and tender but after a day or two it becomes dry like the commercial variety.

Merry Christmas Daring Bakers!

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