We like to make fruit-studded breads during the holidays, and the boxed panettones look so pretty and tall, but my experience has been that they are mostly dry and flavorless or have a fake taste to them. I've wanted to bake my own for a while and read many recipes in my search for a good panettone.
I saw Jim Lahey's slow rise panettone recipe in Gourmet's December edition and knew right away that this was the recipe for me. Shipping costs on panettone molds were a little prohibitive—even more than the cost of the paper molds—and I thought I wouldn't get to make it. Fortunately King Arthur Flour offered a free shipping deal last week and my panettone papers arrived on Monday, a few days before Christmas and in just the nick of time to make this lovely bread for Christmas morning breakfast.
Lahey is famous for his no-knead bread, and he uses the same cold rise technique to bring wonderful flavor to his panettone (which is kneaded with a heavy duty mixer). The bread takes up to 24 hours to make, so start a couple days before you serve it. This is how I would break up the steps:
- Morning: Soak the raisins for at least 8 hours.
- Evening: Prepare the dough.
- Overnight: Rise 12-15 hours.
- Morning: Second rise 3 to 5 hours.
- Afternoon: Bake for 60 to 75 minutes.
A heavy duty stand mixer is preferred for mixing this wet dough, but light duty mixers can work, you just need to increase the mixing time for the dough and keep an eye on it to make sure your mixer doesn't start dancing across the counter like my old KitchenAid Classic seems to do. My dough didn't quite come together and become smooth and elastic, even after 8 minutes, so I sprinkled on a little more flour and scraped down the dough, then turned on the mixer again. After a few minutes something like a dough had formed.
Removing the vanilla bean sounded so simple but turned out to be a bit of a challenge after the long rise. For the life of me I couldn't find that vanilla bean, even with digging down into the dough and rolling it around the rising bowl. I finally gave up and baked the bean!
The final step of hanging the bread upside down is just like the step of turning an angel food cake upside down, and prevents the bread from falling as it cools.
To serve, simply peel the paper away and slice into wedges from the top down. The bread doesn't keep well, so it's best eaten fresh within one day but also works very well as bread pudding or french toast a day later.
[Update: August 2009, featured by Saveur.com in their Best of the Web section!]
Slow Rise Panettone
- 2 small bowls
- stand mixer with paddle attachment
- large bowl, for rising the dough
- 6 x 4-inch paper panettone mold
- baking sheet
- 2 (12-inch) metal skewers
- tall pot
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons light rum
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 3¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- ⅔ cup lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon warm honey
- 12 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter (10-½ tablespoons softened and cut into tablespoons; 1 tablespoon melted, 1 tablespoon chilled)
- ⅔ cup candied orange (or lemon peel or citron, chopped if the pieces are large, chopped if the pieces are large)
- In the small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum and 2 tablespoons hot water, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 8 hours.
Prepare the Dough
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon zest, and vanilla bean at low speed.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, ⅔ cup lukewarm water, and honey.
- While the mixer runs at low speed, pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing.
- Add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing completely before adding each. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Drain the raisins, and discard the liquid. Stir the raisins together with the candied orange peel or citron and melted butter. Stir into the dough with a wooden spoon.
- Place the dough in the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cold oven with the door closed for about 12 to 15 hours, until the dough is nearly tripled in volume.
- Discard the vanilla bean. Rub your hands with flour, sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with some flour, and turn out onto a floured board. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough.
- Fold the edges into the center and place seam side down into the panettone mold. Cover with a damp tea towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free spot at room temperature about 3 to 5 hours, until dough is just above the top of the mold.
- Place the rack in the lower third (closer to the bottom than the middle) of the oven and preheat to 370° F/118° C. (If the dough is too high in the oven, the top will brown before the middle is cooked, resulting in a burned top crust.)
- Place the dough in the mold on a baking sheet. Use a serrated knife to score and X across the entire surface of the dough. Place 1 tablespoon chilled butter in the center of the X.
- Bake in the preheated oven about 1 to 1-¼ hours, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out slightly moist but not wet or doughy. The panettone will be very dark (but should not be burned).
- Pierce the skewers all the way through the panettone and through the papers. Hang the panettone upside down over a stock pot or between two objects of equal height. Cool completely, then remove the paper and slice into wedges for serving.
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