Before Christmas, my wife baked quite a few breads including Italian Christmas Panettone bread. She tried making Panettone last year but because of a time constraint (she baked on Christmas eve!), she made a quick bread version instead of the traditional yeast version. Although the quick bread was excellent in it's own right, she really wanted to make a traditonal yeast Panettone. This time, we had enough time to start with "biga" starter. She had a bit of technical problem but made it before Christmas.
It came out a bit on dark side. Later we learned that when using a paper mold, the temperature and baking time may have to be adjusted (?????? 10F lower and 10 minutes shorter ????). My wife found the original recipe on line.
Despite the high done exterior the inside was still moist.
400 grams All-Purpose Flour (divided)
175 grams Cultured Buttermilk, divided
125 grams Egg Yolks (the yolks of about 7 eggs
200 grams dried fruit (I used raisins)
100 grams Bourbon
75 grams walnuts, crushed and toasted
75 grams Sugar
12 grams Salt
10 grams plus a pinch Instant Yeast
150 grams Butter, cold but softened
Zest of 1 lemon
For the Biga:
The night before you plan to bake, combine 200 grams of flour, 125 grams of buttermilk, and a small pinch of yeast in a medium bowl with your hands until all of the flour and yeast are hydrated and no clumps remain. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. The biga should double in size. (This biga comes out very dry next year my wife said she might try adding a bit more liquid.)(My wife left it for a day and overnight until it doubled in size).
At least a day before you plan to bake, combine the dried fruit (raisins), bourbon and lemon zest. Allow to sit, covered, at room temperature overnight until the fruit absorbs the alcohol. Shake periodically to make sure the fruit hydrates evenly (#1 in picture below).
Place the remaining 200 grams flour, all of the biga, the egg yolks, the remaining 50 grams buttermilk, and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed until the dough is fully incorporated and smooth. About 4 minutes.
- When the initial mix has come fully together into a smooth ball, add the salt and sugar. Continue mixing on slow speed until the dough is once again smooth, about 4 minutes (#2).
- When the dough has once again come together, turn the mixer to medium-high speed and knead until the dough forms a slightly stiff, but stretchy and elastic ball, about 4 minutes.
- Return the mixer to slow speed and add the butter in small pieces. Mix until butter is fully incorporated into dough, scraping down the sides of the work bowl with a spatula as necessary. When the butter is fully incorporated, the dough should feel looser, and stretchier than before, but not greasy. About 10 minutes. If the dough continues to feel greasy but you can't see any pieces of butter in the bowl, allow dough to continue to mix on slow speed until the oily feel has fully dissipated, up to 5 minutes longer.
- With the butter is fully incorporated, drain any excess liquid from the dried fruit. Add the cherries and toasted hazelnuts to the dough. Mix on low speed until dough re-forms into a coherent ball with dried fruit and nuts evenly distributed throughout.
- Using a dough spatula, transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, shape into a ball, and place the ball seam-side down into the panettone mold. The ball of dough should fill somewhere between a quarter and a third of the mold.
- Beat egg well and brush over the top of the panettone. Lightly but securely cover your filled panettone mold with plastic wrap. Allow to proof in a warm, slightly humid place until the dough fills the mold roughly 2/3 high, 10 to 12 hours (#3).
- 1 hour before you plan to bake, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for a convection oven). When the panettone is appropriately risen, apply a second coat of egg wash, place it on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in oven.
- Bake the panettone until the top is a deep, golden brown, and a pastry tester or knife pushed into the center comes out clean, approximately 45 minutes, rotating the loaf midway through the bake (#4).
- When done, allow to cool for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Stored in a plastic bag, the panettone will stay moist and fresh for at least 4 days.
The Panettone was very good. It had a fairly dense but moist texture. The bourbon flavor of the dried fruit really came through and was a very nice addition.
This was a weekend bake-a-thon. In addition to the panettone (upper right), my wife baked stollen (left), English muffin loaves (upper center), and white bread loaves (lower right) and I baked focaccia (lower center).
After tasting the home made panettone, we decided see how the taste of the homemake bread compared to the taste of two commercial panettone brands. Both came from Amazon.
The first one is called "Granducale" Panettone Classico.
The second is called Madi Gran Panettone.
Both were quite good. The below is the Madi brand. Very uniform fine texture with nice citric taste from candied orange rind.
This is Granducale brand. This one had occasional large holes and had a slightly more moist consistency.
We felt both the commercial brands were equally good with a very slightest edge going to the Grandducale. They were also fairly similar in flavor to the homemade one although the homemade one was considerably denser. Now, given how complicated it is to make our own Panettone we have to ask, it is worth to bake Panettone ourselves?