Every Christmas for as long as I can remember my parents have bought a panettone for my grandparents to eat when they were here visiting us for the holiday. Until this year, however, I’d never tried panettone because my parents had always told me that the store-bought stuff is gross, stale, and generally not worth eating. This year, however, I made panettone for my grandmother. I tried it and I was pleasantly surprised only because I’ve never really heard anything positive about panettone.
I used golden raisin, dried cranberries, and dried apricots in my panettone, but you could make a more tropical version using pineapple, mango, and papaya; you could really go crazy with dried fruit combinations.
My orange zest was really moist, I’m not sure why, but it really didn’t adversely effect the recipe. In fact, it might have been a good thing, because I didn’t use the 1/8 tsp of orange oil that the recipe called for. The only problem I did have was that the fruit on the outside got a bit burnt, probably because of the high sugar content. I did cover the panettone with foil after about 25 minutes, but the fruit was already burnt.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Biga (Overnight Starter)
3/4 cup (3 1/8 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1/16 teaspoon yeast (just a pinch)
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) water
all of the biga (above)
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sugar
2/3 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup slivered dried apricots
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons orange zest
The Biga: Combine the biga ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature.
Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and mix and knead them together—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till you’ve made a soft, smooth 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.
Shape the dough into a ball and shape into a free-form ring on a well-buttered cookie sheet (you can use a ring pan if you have one). Cover the ring or pan and let the dough rise about 1 hour, using a buttered drinking glass to keep the free-form ring open if need be.
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 15 minutes (for a free-form ring), tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely.