Panettone is a traditional Italian Christmas bread. In my family we traditionally eat it for breakfast, toasted and slathered with butter. This year since I actually got to spend the holidays with my family, I think we went through about 5 of them. I remember my mother and grandmother baking them in coffee cans and naturally they made enough for an army. My partner absolutely hates anything with raisins in it so this one is entirely mine which is great except for the damage it does to my waistline. I think the chocolate sauce would be great with the orange flavor in this bread but I skipped it as it just isn’t something I would put on my breakfast toast.
My finished loaf turned out a bit deformed. The dough initially rose up over the top of the paper but then spilled out over the edge instead of upward. At first I thought I had overproofed it on the final rise but on closer examination of the pictures I can see where it was starting to spill over the edge before it was baked. I was so preoccupied with getting it into the oven that I didn’t notice this. My baking paper was 5.25 inches instead of the 6 inches that the recipe called for. I didn’t think it would make much difference but I do believe that I put too much dough into the paper. Had I had my wits about me I could have added a parchment collar before I baked it and it would have risen straight up instead of spilling over.
While the recipe seemed a bit daunting, and I admit I found that making up a time schedule was extremely helpful, I didn’t really find anything difficult about the recipe. Most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rest and rise with very little hands on time.
It starts with a biga which is sort of a dough starter, starter. This was just yeast, water and flour which fermented for 3 days. I have always considered a biga to be more of a flavor enhancer rather than a starter. The biga is then incorporated into the actual dough starter. This is just more flour, water and yeast, eggs and flavoring. To the starter, the dry ingredients for the dough are added and this is left to ferment and proof, then the wet ingredients are added to form the wet dough. The prepared fruits are then folded into this and the dough is left to rise. After the first rise, the dough is folded several times to distribute the fruits and then the dough is put to rest in the refrigerator. I found that 24 hours of resting was sufficient for my dough and my time schedule. The rested dough is then formed into a ball and placed in the baking paper for its final rise. Then the loaf is baked.
When the loaf was baked and sliced, it had a perfect texture and crumb and was absolutely delicious so this ended up just being a matter of aesthetics and had no effect on the taste of the finished loaf. I have to say that this bread didn’t stay around long enough for anyone to notice anyway. This bread was every bit as good as any that my mom or grandmother ever made and I was totally pleased with it.