Thursday, December 27, 2012

December Daring Bakers' Challenge - Panettone

Happy Holidays! I hope that, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, you have had a wonderful year, a wonderful month and a wonderful celebration of life, family and the joys they bring.

In that frame of mind...

The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

I was so excited to read this challenge. I have never even tasted panettone before, but I have always been so curious about it. I see the boxes pop up in the stores around November of each year and I am always just... curious! So when I read the challenge, I couldn't wait to get started.

But the recipe is pretty long. And involved. And requires a not-insignificant amount of time and patience.

But I was excited right then!!

So I did the next best thing. I googled and found a quicker recipe for panettone so that I could at least get started.

The dough for panettone is an enriched dough, with plenty of butter and eggs. In this recipe, an overnight starter (called a biga) is combined with all of the other dough ingredients and mixed together in a stand mixer.

The dough then rises for an hour, is kneaded once more with whatever mix-ins you chose, and is then shaped and allowed to rise again.  Now, here you will notice two major differences between this and what you normally think of as a panettone. First, the mix-ins that I chose - usually it is a combination of fruits and candied peels. I chose mini chocolate chips and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Second, the shape. A traditional panettone is a tall, round bread baked in a special paper. This recipe calls for the bread to be baked in a tube or bundt pan.

The result was a delicious bread - a little dry, but nice and flavorful and so very easy to eat.

But I wasn't done. I really, really wanted to try the challenge recipe, and to go as traditional as I could, and I knew, because she is awesome, that Marcellina would have chosen a really great recipe for us. So I made that one, too.

While it is probably possible to complete the whole thing in one day, you'd have to start very early, and would probably be baking until very late at night.  So I decided to split it into two days.  The first day I prepared the base of the dough.  The dough comes together similarly to the easier version, in that it starts with a sponge (which is very similar to the biga used in the other recipe, just a higher hydration level), but involves more eggs, much more butter, and much more patience.  And the dough is so much softer and silkier than the previous one. I knew I'd made the right choice trying this version.  The dough went into the fridge overnight and I went to bed very excited.

As far as the filling, I asked daddy to pick up some dried fruits, and he chose the beautiful rainbow of papaya, mango, pineapple and kiwi.

While the dough came back up to temperature after its cool rise, I chopped the fruits, added some raisins and dried cranberries, and soaked them in orange juice.

Once the dough was ready, it was time to put everything together.  With a little bit of help...

Now, I couldn't find panettone papers, so I decided to try these cool no-pan-required, oversized muffin liners for my panettones.

They worked out... okay... The only problem was that the dough grows quite a bit. And panettone papers guide the dough so that it grows nice and tall.

The muffin liners... didn't.

So they grew out more than up...

But despite the fact that they were not the traditional shape, they were absolutely delicious.  The bread itself is so soft and rich and deliciously wonderful, and the tropical fruit we used was so fun.

Next I want to try a sourdough version, to go even more traditional!

Marcellina, I can't thank you enough for this challenge. I can't wait to keep working on it. I hope that next holiday season I can make the real deal!

To see the other amazing and beautiful panettoni (panettones?) baked up this month, check them out here.

(from December Challenge)

For the Sponge
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
½ cup unbleached all purpose flour

Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl and allow to stand until creamy, about 10 minutes or so.
Mix in the flour.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size, about 20 to 30 minutes.

For the First Dough
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons warm water
2 large eggs, at room temp
1¼ cup  unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp

In the bowl of your mixer, mix together the yeast and water and allow to stand until creamy. Again, about 10 minutes or so.
With the paddle attached, mix in the sponge, eggs, flour, and sugar.
Add in the butter and mix for 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and even.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow double in size, about 1 – 1 ¼ hours

For the Second dough
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoonshoney
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon essence/extract
1 teaspoon orange essence/extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; plus up to 2/3 cup additional for kneading

With the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix in the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, honey, vanilla, essences/extracts, and salt.
Mix in the butter until smooth.
Add the flour and slowly incorporate.
At this stage the dough will seem a little too soft, like cookie dough.
Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead for about 2 minutes.
Turn out the dough and knead it on a well-floured surface until it sort of holds its shape.
Don’t knead in too much flour but you may need as much as 2/3 cup (I needed the whole 2/3 cup - the dough is very soft and sticky!). Be careful, though, as the excess flour will affect the finished product.

Oil a large bowl lightly, plop in your dough and cover with plastic wrap.
Now we need to let it rise until it has tripled in size. There are two ways to go about this.
Rise in a warm place for 2 – 4 hours.
Or find a cool spot (64°F -68°F) (18°C – 20°C) and let it  rise overnight
Or rise for 2 hours on your kitchen bench then slow the rise down and place in the refrigerator overnight. If you do this it will take some time to wake up the next morning. This is the method I chose.

For the Final dough
2 1/2 cups assorted dried fruit, chopped, soaked in juice (or soaked in the alcohol of your choice!)

If you had your dough in the refrigerator overnight, remove it and set it (still covered) on the counter to warm up. This may take a couple of hours, since the butter in the dough will have stiffened as it cooled.
Soak the dried fruits in your selected liquid for 30 minutes before the end of the first rise. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Now take your dough and cut it in half (the recipe is enough to make two panettoni).
Press out one portion of dough into an oval shape.
Sprinkle over one quarter of the filling and roll up the dough into a log.
Press out again into an oval shape and sprinkle over another quarter of the filling.
Roll into a log shape again.
Repeat with the second portion of dough.
Shape each into a ball and slip into your prepared pans, panettone papers or homemade panettone papers.
Cut an X into the top of each panettone and allow to double in size.
Rising time will vary according to method of first rise. If it has been in the refrigerator it could take 4 hours or more. If it has been rising on the kitchen bench in a warm place it should be doubled in about 2 hours.

When you think your dough has only about 30 minutes left to rise preheat your oven to moderately hot 400°F.
Just before baking carefully (don’t deflate it!) cut the X into the dough again and place in a knob (a nut) of butter.
Place your panettoni in the oven and bake for 10 minutes
Reduce the heat to moderate 350°F and bake for another 10 minutes
Reduce the heat again to moderate 325°F and bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are well browned and a skewer inserted into the panettone comes out clean.
Cooling your panettone is also important. If you have use papers (commercial or homemade) lie your panettoni on their side cushioned with rolled up towels. Turn gently as they cool. If you have used pans cool in the pans for 30 minutes then remove and cushion with towels as above.



  1. I adore homemade panettone. These have turned out beautiful and delicious.

  2. Happy holidays to you too. Glad you enjoyed this challenge. I like your tropical fruit combination.

  3. Oh, I so loved that you used the tropical fruits! That is brilliant! Your muffin panettone are gorgeous! Thank you for accepting the challenge!

  4. I love that you used tropical fruits! How fun! The muffin wrappers crack me up, they are giant little blobs of panettone, but they must have tasted so delicious! I think they are lovely!!

  5. Looks delicious, great job on the challenge!

  6. Your tropical fruit choices look great - I like the thought of the dried kiwi!

  7. I love the idea of tropical fruits, they must add a new twist to the panettone
    I know how frustrating it is when something doesn't work out as it should..I have had cupcakes turn into pools with cupcake liners that supposidly did not need a pan
    I am sure your panettone tasted heavenly and I will try the quick version next time

  8. love the tropical fruit filling! i'm sure it was delicious!

  9. We can be sourdough panettone buddies next Christmas - I'm definitely going to give it a try! The dried fruit in your panettone sounds so tasty, and so pretty! Happy Holidays Shelley :)

  10. I love the look from the bundt pan - so elegant!

  11. Oooh! I love your fruit fillings soaked in orange juice. Your Panettoni all look fantastic!

  12. Oh, I love the rainbow fruit filling! And that you did both a quicker version and the traditional version - that's dedication. :)

  13. Wow, 2 versions! I am impressed! I'm hoping to try the sourdough version, too. :)

  14. The muffin version is too cute :)

  15. I was just commenting on Jenni's site that I'd love to see her SD I imagined it was walking and talking by now. I feel the same about must be a super hero strength SD starter by now! Shelley, your Panettone is beautiful and the tropical fruits is a fantastic twist on it that I've never seen before! Love it! Wishing you and the family a Happy New Year!

  16. Using a Bundt pan was such a great idea. I loved it and it looked so festive!

  17. Beautiful - I've never seen dried or candied kiwi before - how intriguing! Love the little kitchen helper too :-)

  18. Lovely Panettone :) It has got beautiful texture too:) Loving it.


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