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.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/16 teaspoon yeast
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut into chunks)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 5 teaspoons yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon orange or lemon extract
- 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, chopped if necessary (about 9 ounces)
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup water, and 1/16 teaspoon yeast. Mix until combined. Cover bowl and let rise overnight, about 12 hours.
Combine dough in your stand mixer with all remaining ingredients except dried fruit. Using the dough hook, mix and knead until the dough comes together. Dough will not be very smooth. Cover and let dough rest for an hour.
Fold in fruit, either with the stand mixer or by hand. Knead only until the fruit is incorporated. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
Make a hole in the center of the dough, then place into a well-greased tube or Bundt pan. Cover the pan, then let dough rise for 2 hours. Dough will not double in size, but will be puffy.
Remove cover. Bake panettone at 350F for 25-40 minutes. Cover it with aluminum foil at the end if it seems to brown too quickly. If you want to take its temperature, the bread will be between 190F and 205F when it's done.
Remove panettone from oven. After 5 minutes, turn out from pan. Brush with melted butter if desired. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if desired.