Panettone is a very special holiday sweet bread. Its origins date from Middle Ages Milan, Italy, and it is very appreciated in Brazil during the Christmas and New year. It is a delicacy special made with natural fermentation which give to it a very delicious texture. There are lots of legends about its history. A interesting one is that the panettone was created by a baker named Toni (nick name for Antonio), who worked in the Della Grazia bakery in Milan at the time of Ludovico the Moorish, Duke of Milan (c.1494 – 1499).
It happens that this young baker felt in love with his boss’s daughter, and to impress his future father in law, would have invented this bread. The delicious was wild spread in the city, and was known for “Pani de Toni” (italian for Tony’s bread), so the customers began to ask for this “pani de Toni”, which evolved into the “panattón” (Milanese word), and than into “panettone” (Italian). Many other legends exist about the history of this bread, but what not change is that it was invented in Milan, in the Middle ages, by a citizen named Antonio, and it is delicious. Every year, when the winter approaches, I always catch myself thinking and craving for panettone. Here it is. I hope everyone appreciate and follow the winter tradition in the future.
FOR THE STARTER:
400 gr all purpose flour
300 ml lukewarm water
7 gr instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
FOR THE DOUGH: (makes 4 panettones)
800 gr bread flour (that amount depend of the humidity of the dough, it can be necessary add some more, or less flour, that’s why flour will be added in parts in the recipe)
200 ml lukewarm milk
300 gr sugar
1/2 tsp salt
200 gr soft unsalted butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
400 gr assorted candied fruits (or a mixture of chocolate morsels and dried cranberry instead of the candied fruits) – divided in 4 equal parts
200 gr raisins (soaked in hot water for at least 1 hour, or in run overnight) – divided in 4 equal parts
200 walnuts or pecans or whatever nuts you like, roughly chopped – divided in 4 equal parts
2 Tbsp panettone citric flavor (recipe bellow)
grated peel of 1 lemon, 1 lime, and 1 orange
FOR THE PANETTONE FLAVOR (ESSENCE):
1 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup vodka, or whisky, or cognac
peel of 1 orange
peel of 1 lime
peel of 1 lemon
In the day before you plan to make this recipe, make the starter. Combine the starter ingredients in a good-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours).It will raise and bubbly and this process surely will maintain the bread fresh for more time, and add the traditional “sweet-and-sour” background taste.
Than, the next day, start the recipe with the essence, gathering all the ingredients together in a little saucepan over a very slow heat, allowing the mixture to infuse all flavors until it reduces to 3/4 of cup. Pass through a fine sieve and reserve in a little jar in the fridge.
Now, remove the dried fruits from the water (or liquor) and dry with a paper towel, so it do not moisturize too much the dough. It is just to make them soft, not to soak the dough, because if they are too moist it will interfere in the baking process.
For the dough, put the starter in the mixer bowl and add to it the milk and mix delicately. Add sugar, salt and 1/3 of the flour. Mix again in low velocity. With the mixer still working add the butter, the eggs, the panettone flavor (essence), the orange, lemon, and lime grated peels, and the other 1/3 of the flour. Increase the velocity of the mixer, and add little by little the rest of flour, paying attention in the consistency of the dough, it have to be moist and sticky, not dry. During this process, stop the mixer and scoop the sides of the mixer bowl to incorporate all the flour, and turn back to mix. Increase the velocity a little bit more and let it kneading at least 10 minutes.
Put the dough in a floured large bowl, cover, and let rest until dough double in volume.
Put the dough in a floured surface, and knead for at least 5 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Take one of those to work and cover another 3 parts with a kitchen cloth.
Open the dough with a rolling pin and spread 1/4 of the candied fruits, 1/4 of the nuts, and 1/4 of the raisins. Roll the dough like a tube, pressing in order to allow the filling to spread all over the dough, and than roll again from the left to the right, and knead again until you see that the filling is all over the dough. (see the picture. In my panettone I only used raisins, but this is only to illustrate. The original one have candied fruits and nuts, and if you don’t have picky kids like me, I suggest you use it, definitely, because is fundamental for the original panettone taste).
Put the filled dough into a panettone paper mold, and repeat the process with each one of the other 3 parts of the dough. When they are all in the mold, brush each panettone with melted butter and let them grow until pass the line of the mold. It might delay a bit, but when the dough rise half of the size it should grow, cut a cross in the top, and let rise more.
Preheat the oven 350 F. Inside a cookie pan place a cookie rack and over the cookie rack place the panettones and cover the panettones with an aluminum foil, just to protect the crust to don’t burn. Bake the panettones, 2 at a time, around 20 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue baking for 20 – 25 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, tap the bottom and see if makes a hollow noise. It means it is done and well cooked inside. Let them completely cool, actually, they are better the next day. Enjoy.