Panettone

The Christmas time is definitely my favorite holiday. How wonderful is the feeling that unites people to celebrate life, love and peace! And how delicious are the Christmas foods too. In Brazil, one of the most tradicional dessert is the Panettone. This unique holiday bread, originated in Italy, has a sweet aroma and vanila flavor. It is perfect to serve with a cup of coffee or tea.

The tradicional Panettones have candied fruits and raisins, and it’s also my favorite too. But you can find all sorts of alternatives flavoured Panettones, such as coffee, coconut, limoncello and chocolat. The chocolat panettone is so popular in Brazil that it is called “Chocottone”.

I took the recipe from the same book that I used to prepare the Brioches (Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart). As I like very much candied fruits and raisins, I doubled the amount written in the original recipe. The author gives two importante advices to intensify the flavor. The first one is to put the candied fruits and raisins in a vanilla extract and rum. This will keep them moist too. The other one is to use buttermilk instead of milk. This will give the best flavor.




    Merry Christmas!





Panettone
(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

Makes 1 very large loaf, several small loaves, or to 24 hot cross buns

Sponge

¾ cup unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Dough

41/3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, cold
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
Sponge
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dark raisins
½ cup rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds or walnuts
½ cup candied fruit
1 large egg for egg wash (optional)

To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir in the buttermilk and mix till smooth. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, till very bubbly.

If using dried fruit, soak it in rum and/or vanilla in a bowl while the sponge is developing.

To make the dough, combine all the other dough ingredients and the sponge in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook.

Mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the fruit and nut mixture and mix for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough is soft and tacky, registers about 80°F on a probe thermometer, and passes the windowpane test. Pinch off a small piece and stretch it slowly apart, gently pulling and rotating it. You are trying to stretch the dough into a thin, translucent membrane or windowpane. Add water if the dough is too stiff or flour if it is too sticky. To make by hand, knead the dough on a well-floured counter with floured hands for about 15 minutes, adding the fruit and nuts during the final 3 minutes.

Mist the dough with cooking spray, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, till it increases in size by 1 ½ times.

Use up to the full amount of dried and candied fruit and nuts, according to taste. For a single large loaf, grease a 9-inch round cake pan, and line the sides of it with a parchment collar that is about 2 inches taller than the pan. For smaller loaves, use smaller pans or simply make free-standing rounds. Form the finished dough into a ball and press it nearly to the edge of the prepared pan. Let it rise, brush with egg wash, and bake for about 60 minutes. When the loaves are baked, you may brush them with simple syrup made by boiling equal parts sugar and water for 1 minute. This will give the tops a shiny look.