My friends Jen and Mike love panettone. Thus when I found a panettone recipe last year, I knew I had to make it for them for Christmas this year.
I’ve seen Panettone described as a cake, but that isn’t accurate in my book. It’s sweet yeast-based bread, and if you view it as such, you’ll be much happier than if you expect cake. It contains a variety of fruit – much like fruitcake, you can add whatever fruit you’d like – and this version of panettone is lightly flavored with citrus. This enriched bread took 3 eggs, butter, some sugar, a fair amount of vanilla, and a little lemon extract.
This bread wasn’t particularly difficult to make, but it does take patience. You start by making a firm starter with yeast, which rises overnight; making a dough, which goes through 2 rises; incorporating fruit into the dough after the first rise; baking the bread, which doesn’t take too long; and waiting for it to cool so you can cut it. It was a most-day process. Since I was giving one batch away, I had to make second loaf for myself at the same time.
As per usual, I used my stand mixer to assemble my dough. I mixed together the starter ingredients, kneaded them with the stand mixer, and let it rise until the next morning when I was ready to begin making the bread.
I combined all of the ingredients for the bread, aside from fruit, in the stand mixer, and used the dough hook to knead the dough for at least 5 minutes before it came together satisfactorily – a gooey, sticky-looking dough. I put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rise for about an hour.
I turned the dough out and kneaded the fruit (dried mixed berries, cranberries, candied ginger, apricots, and a few dates) in by folding the dough over itself until all the fruit seemed incorporated. I shaped the dough into a rough ring. I put one batch in a greased tube pan, and one in a Bundt pan. I covered each and let them rise for a couple of hours, until they had risen really well.
I baked the bread at 350F for… 25-30 minutes, I think. I checked them with toothpicks until the toothpicks came out dry. I turned the bread out of the pans, let it cool, and then sprinkled them liberally with powdered sugar.
Alex and I ate the Bundt-style panettone, and Jen and Mike got the one from the tube pan. I was really happy with the bread. It was like fruitcake without the spices and alcohol. The bread was sweet, but not very sweet; most of the sweetness came from the fruit. The bread was not dry, but it certainly was not a moist bread, aside from the fruit. It has a great, bready texture – tender yet a little chewy. The bread was delicately citrus flavored from the lemon extract. I really liked the mixture of fruit I used, and I particularly enjoyed the bites that surprised you with the candied ginger.
I kept this bread under a glass cake dome while we were at home, and wrapped it in foil and kept it in a tin to travel with it. I reviewed the bread over a week after I made it, and it was still pretty good up to 2 weeks later. If this bread lingered around your house, you could still eat it on its own. It would also make an excellent French toast. I definitely think I’ll make this again.