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.
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.
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.