This Christmas I decided to try my hand at homemade Panettone. This traditional Italian Christmas bread/cake is made from an enriched wheat dough. Its generously dotted with dried and glaced fruits and citrussy flavoured from lemon and orange zest. Its a wonderfully refreshing treat at Christmas time. In our home Panettone is a welcome contrast to the heavily spiced flavours typical of English Christmas cakes and German Gingerbreads. The choice and proportions of fruits are absolutely variable according to your tastes and preferences. The dough is rather heavy, allow plenty of time ( I recommend overnight) for rising.
Recipe for 1 large Panettone
5 tablespoons warm water
10g fresh yeast (or 15g dried instant yeast)
500g plain wheat flour (550 or 1050)
1 teaspoon vanilla
325g mixed dried/glaced fruit (use your favourites–raisins, cranberries, pineapple, papaya, cherries)
3 tespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk or cream (to brush on before baking)
To make a yeast sponge
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix in 60g of flour. Leave for 30 minutes until bubbled up and active.
Beat together the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the warmed milk, mix, add your yeast sponge and combine well. In a separate bowl combine the butter with the flour until crumbly. Then pour the milk/egg/yeast mixture into the flour and butter and beat on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until the dough looks elastic and strands are formed. Mix in the dried friuts and zests. Turn the dough into an oiled bowl and leave to rise for 2-3 hours until doubled. Butter 2 panettone baking forms. Divide the dough into 2 even sized balls, if the dough is too wet to manage, sprinkle with a little flour and incorporate. Place the dough into the baking forms and leave overnight in the fridge. The next morning, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and allow your panettone to warm to room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg/milk mixture and bake at 200 degrees. After 10 minutes of baking reduce the heat to 180 degrees and if the panettone are getting too brown cover in foil. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until and knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tins and then turn out and fully cool on a wire rack. To decorate, make a simple sugar glace by dissolving 50 g sugar in 5 or so table spoons of water and heat until slightly thickened and syrupy. Sprinkle with sugar crystals and almonds. Alternatively decorate the traditional italian way by simply sifting over powdered sugar. My friends were really happy to receive a freshly cooked homemade panettone, a definite christmas hit.