Archive for December, 2012



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The December’s Bakers Challenge is Panettone,a traditional Italian holiday semi-sweet bread that is studded with raisins. Our host is the lovely 
Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina (what a gorgeous site!). At this time of year it is hard to miss that giant oddly shaped box sitting up by counter in your local supermarket. While I personally can’t stand the box version, I actually like the homemade kind. It is quite nice, slightly warmed, with a hot cup of coffee. Two years ago this time the challenge was stollen, and I used a recipe by Peter Bernhardt that called for a seed starter (which took about 12 days to make) and then a sponge from that before even starting the bread. He did use the same dough though for Panettone as well so I made some up at the time. Very delicious. Last year I wanted to make some more but decided I needed an easier path to my goal and tried a recipe from King Arthur Flour.This version only requires an overnight sponge. Very delicious and loved it for its ease of use.

Okay, so this year the challenge is provided with a recipe from Carol Field. I really love her recipes so I was excited to give this a try. An overnight sponge, a lot  of butter, a lot of eggs, and a lot of rising times. This is going to be good!! And it was, but, it was no better than my year two recipe from King Arthur and this one is a whole lot less time-consuming (and fewer calories). I don’t get it, but I’m standing by it. Hey, you know what? go to Marcella’s site and try the Carol Field recipe for yourself (it does make a fantastic bread and two giant loaves) and let yourself be the judge. In the meantime, here is my version Panettone (I have modified the quantities, for the original recipe please go here).

The interesting part about baking this bread is actually cooling this bread. You hang it upside down! If you are lucky enough to have panettone papers this is easy, just stick 2 thin wooden skewers through the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven and suspend your bread between two chairs. If you use a recycled can for your baking vessel, let the bread cool on its side for about 10 minutes ten tip it out, insert your skewers and then hang upside down. Marcella believes that just cooling the bread on its side and rotating it occasionally works just as well; I will have to give it a try in the future. Before baking this bread I recommend that you not only read Marcella’s post in its entirity, but that you also read this extremely educating post on the subject by Susan over at Wild Yeast (one of my all time favorite bread sites).


One more thing about panettone. You will notice it comes baked in it very own package. These are panettone papers and they come in a few sizes. My favorite are the small individual ones. While the large loaf is truly an impressive site to behold, it is a large loaf of bread, so you better have a lot of people to eat it up. The small ones are perfect for smaller families or individuals. Okay, don’t have any? no problem, don’t panic. Save a few large (or small) cans from tomatoes or something like that, wash them well, peel off the paper and voila! you have a panettone pan. Just line it with parchment paper (with the paper cresting the rim by an inch or two) before you place the dough into it.

Bake on!

Overnight sponge (biga)
3/4 cup (3 1/8 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/16 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) water

Stir the three ingredients together until well blended; cover, let sit at room temperature for one hour then place in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours (or up to 3 days)

all of the biga (above)
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup ( 3 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavoring OR 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
2 1/4 teaspoons SAF Gold instant yeast OR 1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon each of  orange and  lemon zest

*approximately 1 1/2 cups of dried fruits and nuts  of your choice :  For my first batch I used dried figs, anise seeds and pistachio nuts. For my second batch I used candied orange peel, candied cherries, slivered almonds and chopped bittersweet chocolate.The traditional mixture is raisins, citron  and slivered almonds.

Glaze (optional, but so very pretty)

3 ounces  granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground almonds (or almond flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon corn flour (not cormeal, otherwise use WW flour)
1 egg (30 g) white
scraped seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean

Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and mix and knead them together—by hand or mixer —for at least 15 minutes (longer if by hand) It should be a very soft and billowy dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk). Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits, nuts  and zest.


Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone pan or other straight-sided, tall 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan (or split your dough in two and divide between two parchment lined large tomato cans). Cover the pan and let the dough rise till it’s just crested over the rim of the pan. This can take anywhere from two to 4 hours.

To mix the glaze, whisk all ingredients together. Pour, brush, or pipe the glaze evenly onto the top of the loaves. Sift powdered sugar generously over the tops, then sprinkle with pearl sugar.DSC_1730

Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 25 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely.

While the panettone is baking, set up your hanging apparatus (See above). When the bread is done, hang them as quickly as possible.

Allow the panettone to hang for at least four hours, up to overnight.


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Since December is already a crazy busy baking month, why not throw a delicious yeasted cake into the mix?! The December host of the Bread Baking Babes is Gretchen of Provecho Peru. She chose the lovely and easy German cake Apple Kutchen. It is perfect for this time of year and a breeze to put together. Being a good little baking buddy (well, I am trying to be at least) I firmly put my mind to baking this and not flaking off like last month. Since I didn’t have any apples on had I used some dried pears that I had. I first soaked them overnight in Amaretto and then rehydrated them in pear-cinnamon cider, finally giving them a rough dice. I also had some cranberries in the freezer (thank you Noelle for the idea) and last but not least, some finely diced crystallized ginger. It smelled heavenly coming out of the oven and now my mother has the perfect treat to bring with her to church on tomorrow morning. I was a little worried about how dark my crust was but when tried it I was happy that it was still very soft and moist. Easy and delicious. Bake on!

Holiday Apple  Pear Kutchen 

Yield: 12 servings

Source: Adapted from BH&G Holiday Baking 2009 Magazine


Crumb Topping

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup quick oatmeal (I used Quaker)

3/4 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon allspice


2 1/4 – 2 3/4 cups flour,divided

1 package (2 1/4 tsp)active dry yeast (I used 2 teaspoon SAF gold yeast)
1/2 cup milk (I used lowfat)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Dried Pear topping

2 cups reconstituted dried pears, roughly diced

1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I tossed mine in a small bit of egg whites then some sugar so as to not be so tart)

2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely diced


*If you want to make it Apple Kutchen, use this for the fruit topping instead:

4 cups apple slices (about 4 medium baking apples)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon apple pie spice


In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.


Grease a 13x9x2 baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour and the yeast; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat and stir milk, granulated sugar, butter and salt just until mixture is warm (120F-130F) and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture and eggs to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high-speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Beat in as much of the remaining flour as you can without the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour to make a stiff batter.

Spread batter into the prepared baking pan. Evenly spread the pears over the top of the batter then sprinkle the cranberries over them and finally the ginger. Crumble the topping over the fruit mixture.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

 (for apple topping combine apples, brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and apple pie spice. Place apple mixture on top of the batter. Sprinkle with Crumb Topping. )

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes or until top is browned and apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.


BBBuddies Dec 12

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