I didn’t discover Panettone until a friend got me one for Christmas a few years back. It’s an Italian Christmas bread that you usually buy pre-prepared and imported from Italy. Since I am a lover of all things fruity and delicious during the holidays, I instantly fell in love with it. And yes, I even love fruitcake. Although it can’t be store-bought or have any of those neon fruits in it, I like my fruitcake made with real fruits and berries and soaked in cherry brandy. That’s why I love Panettone: it’s lighter, because it’s a bread instead of a cake, and can have any combination of fruits and flavorings you like. I made this one with citrus zest, raisins, currants, cranberries and vanilla. But you could do chocolate almond, dried fruits and saffron, or whatever you can dream up. If you use liquor, you can use what you have on hand, or get creative with that too. There aren’t too many recipes for Panettone floating around the web. Many of the recipes are actually just a quick bread (or not so sweet cake). From what I understand, Panettone should include yeast, be rich from lots of egg yolks, and filled with lots of butter. I found this recipe in an older cookbook and adapted it to my tastes and to make it a little easier. Fresh Panettone is a real treat during the holidays. Don’t let this or any recipe intimidate you. It’s just as easy as any bread — it just takes longer to rise, but is so worth it. Imagine giving this homemade Panettone for the holidays! It’s so much better than the expensive imported stuff, baked who knows how many months ago.
In the directions, I use a 10-inch spring form pan. You can use a special Panettone mold, but they have to be special ordered through an online store. If you use a mold that has skewers, cool it hanging upside down and the bread will retain it’s dome.
Adapted from Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves From Your Own Hands by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik (William Morrow and Company, Inc., copyright 1993 by Daniel Leader)
1/2 cup seedless golden raisins
1/2 cup seedless dark raisins
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup vermouth, or orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons yeast
3/4 cup all-purpose white flour
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3-4 cups all-purpose white flour (I used 3 cups)
the zest of 1 orange
the zest of 1 lemon
1. Combine fruits and warmed wine or juice in a bowl. Let fruits absorb liquid overnight. For a shortcut, add fruits and vermouth or juice to small saucepan. Bring to a boil remove from heat. Spread over a baking sheet to cool.
2. Make poolish by combining sour cream and yeast in a medium bowl. Add flour and stir, about 100 strokes. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm (74-80° F) draft free place for 1 hour.
3. Combine butter and sugar in stand mixer and beat with paddle attachment until smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add poolish, eggs, egg yolks, salt, vanilla and beat on medium for 5 minutes. Then gradually add 1 cup of flour. Switch to your dough hook and add 2 cups of flour and knead on medium speed for 10 minutes. Add orange and lemon zest. Drain fruit well by squeezing it and add to bowl. Knead 2 minutes more. Turn dough onto work surface and knead by hand about 1 minute to make sure the fruits are well incorporated.
4. Shape the dough in a ball and place in a well-buttered large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm (74-80° F) draft-free place until it doubles in size. (This took me 2 1/2 hours.)
5. Take a 10-inch spring form pan and butter it well. Turn the dough into the pan and press it down. Allow the dough to double in size again. (This took about 1 1/2 hours for me.)
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Place foil loosely on the bread and bake for another 25 minutes, for a total of 45 minutes total baking time. Bread is done when a toothpick is inserted in the middle and it comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 20 minutes. Un-mold and cool completely before serving.
Make 1 round 10-inch loaf.