[I]’ve always been a bit intimidated by Panettone. I mean, it’s just so big. Does it need a special tin? What would we do with it all? So many questions. However, I’ve always fancing being the kind of friend who casually gifts a home-made panettone wrapped with a gorgeous ribbon, so I decided to follow a standard recipe but bake it in two deep cake tins instead. Not only could we eat one, we could give one away and everyone has two cake tins in the cupboard. No one has a panettone tin. Problem solved.
Traditionally Panettone is a sweet Italian bread, containing dried fruit and candied peel, orginating from Milan and cooked over the Christmas period. It’s an enriched dough, meaning that butter, eggs and sugar, are incorporated into the dough. As a result, an enriched dough takes longer to prove (at least 24 hours) but the result is a crumbly, yellower dough with a lovely soft crumb. A panettone also has a distinctive dome shape which is brushed with egg before going into the oven, to give it a wonderful shine.
This was fun to make. Although it takes a long time to prove, there is very little actual work to do. Luckily we have a mixer with a dough hook, but if you don’t, it’s not a problem. The panettone mixture was very wet, almost batter-like at times, and I could see it would have been straightforward to beat it by hand.
I followed a standard recipe from the god of baking, Paul Hollywood. Don’t take this the wrong way, Paul, but I felt you missed a few ingredients. I added vanilla extract, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. I’m sure panettone purists might not approve, but it was perfectly festive. And yes, I did give one away.
- 500g strong white flour
- 7g salt
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 2 x 7g sachets instant yeast
- 140ml warm milk
- 5 free-range eggs, at room temperature, plus extra for egg wash
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 120g dried cherries
- 250g mixed dried fruit
- 50g whole blanched almonds
- 50g walnut pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- zest of a lemon
- zest of an orange
- Place the flour, spices, salt, sugar, yeast, milk, vanilla and the eggs into a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large mixing bowl.
- Mix slowly for a couple of minutes, until the ingredients are incorporated, then increase the speed to and mix for a further 5-6 min until you have a soft elastic dough.
- Add the softened butter and mix for another 5 mins. Tip: the butter needs to be really soft and you may need to set the mixer to high to make sure it's incorporated smoothly. You may need to stop the mixer from time to time to scrape down any dough from the sides. It will be very soft.
- Add the dried fruit, nuts and zest and continue to mix until well combined.
- Tip the dough into a bowl, cover with it with clingfilm and chill overnight until the dough has firmed up enough for you to able to shape it. If you have a cold house overnight, you may not need to actually put it in the fridge.
- Prepare two non-stick 18cm cake tins (or an 18cm panettone tin) by brushing the inside with melted butter.
- Knock back the panettone dough, divide into two pieces, shape it into a ball and place into the tins. Tuck under any edges to make sure they are perfectly round.
- Leave to prove at room temperature for a further 2-3 hours, until the dough just starts to rise above the top of the tins.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Wash the top of the panettone with beaten egg and bake for initially for about 25 minutes. Then Reduce the temperature to 150C and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- I found this cooked fast because of the sugar and eggs in the dough and towards the end, I covered my panettones with foil to make sure they didn't go too brown on top.
- Serve toasted with butter (yum). It also makes a wonderful festive bread and butter pudding.