Panettone

I don’t know what I’m thinking… why would I make my own Panettone?!  I’m not an Italian, I can easily buy Panettones anywhere around Christmas season.  Seriously, something is wrong with me, but I’m just flowing with my curiosity and instinct here… 

Well, after doing some research on different ways of making Panettones, I found out that 1. it takes a darn long time to make it   2.  it takes a long time, and  3.  oh my gosh, why does it take so long?!

Many Panettone recipes start with a starter called “biga”, and some starters have to be “fed” every few hours for few days.  Ummm, I know I can’t commit to that, so I chose  this recipe where biga sits overnight.  I’m a bit nervous about this, because I’m committing a whole day to this recipe and it would be a great disappointment if this totally flops!!  Well, I won’t find out unless I experiment so here I go!!

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Kind of scary looking, unlike store bought ones… scared to slice it….

Anyway, let’s start with the store bought Panettones.  I had to taste the store bought one to compare to my homemade one:
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Look at the ingredient lists here and compare to the one below.  The store bought one tasted good, fluffy and dense at the same time.  I think I usually have more sensitive taste buds, because I distinctly tasted preservative, really, no joke here…

This recipe will yield 1 large Panettone loaf:

1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup grappa or brandy
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon vanilla
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped candied citron

To make the starter dough, or sponge, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a bowl.
Add 1/2 cup flour and stir to make a very loose dough.
Cover the bowl with a towel of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 6 hours or overnight.

In another bowl, combine the raisins and grappa, and let them soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, eggs, yolks, sugar, 1/4 cup warm water, and vanilla.
Drain the soaked raisins in a strainer set over a bowl.
Press on the raisins with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Set the raisins aside.
Add the liquid to the egg mixture.
Add the starter dough and mix well.
Gradually add the flour, mixing with your hands until a soft dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Add more flour as needed.

Butter a large bowl, place the dough in it and turn once to coat both sides with the butter.
Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 6 hours in a warm place.
Butter and flour a panettone mold or other deep mold that is about 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide.
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You can buy these paper Panettone molds at Sur La Table for about .75cents per mold.  In Philly area, there is a Sur La Table store inside the King of Prussia Mall.  You can get these on Amazon, but they are more expensive.  I only skewered the bamboo skewers to hang the Panettone upside down once done baking, but I didn’t have to do that…

Punch down the dough and transfer it onto a lightly floured surface.
With your hands, flatten the dough into a large rectangle.
Evenly distribute the orange and lemon zest, raisins, and citron over the dough.
Fold the dough in half to enclose the fruit and knead to distribute the fruit throughout the dough.
Place the dough in the prepared mold, cover with a towel, and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.
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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut an X in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F.
Continue to bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Place the bread on a rack to cool for 30 minutes before removing it from the mold.
Be sure that the bread has cooled completely before wrapping it for storage.

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My opinion:  I was so very sure this would not have the texture of the usual Panettone I was familiar with.  It took longer to bake than what the recipe said.  I did 375F for 15 minutes, and on 350F for 30 minutes (15 minutes of that time with the foil on top so that the top won’t get burned), and additional 15 minutes without the foil. 

I made sure to completely cool the Panettone, and the next morning I readied myself to slice it.  I have to admit I was a bit scared…  I do have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the result.  It’s a bit denser than the “normal” Panettones (at least the store bought ones), but still has that nice softness to it.  It tastes citrusy and very nice!!  Next time, I may cut down on citrus ingredients, and put more brandy!!

All in all, I am sooooo relieved it turned out well!! Hooray!!

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