Panettone is the traditional Christmas cake/bread Italians eat in this season. It originates in Northern Italy in the city of Milano during Medieval times (first mentioned in writing roughly in 1606, though in the area, enriched bread had been eaten for winter holidays at least since 1300 if not before) and gets enriched through the centuries to make it become the way it is now. Do not be fooled by the many types that are commercialised now, the only real traditional recipe is the simple one with raisins and candied fruits. No mumbo jumbo and the real panettone is made in Milano and Lombardy region.
You can make Panettone at home, it is a lengthy and challenging preparation, but worth it, especially if like myself, you do not enjoy too much sweetness in your cakes and you want to understand how it should really taste without having to travel to Milan to do it!
But let us cut the talk and hit it with the recipe!
290 g strong flour (possibly Manitoba)
170 g natural sour dough starter (you can find the recipe to make it here)
3 egg yolks
95 g water
90 g caster sugar
80 g butter (softened)
145 g normal flour (00)
25 g caster sugar
5 g honey
70 g softened bbutter
145 g raisins
120 g candied orange zest or a mix of candied citrus and orange
5 drops of Vanilla extract
5 drops of Rhum aroma extract
12 g of powdered milk, but even milk concentrate is ok
3 egg yolks
45 g of water
5 g of salt
The first dough is pretty straightforward, remember to refresh your lest 3 or 4 times before starting, so you might want to do that the day before.
Once your yeast is ready, mix all the ingredients in a kneader machine, start with the yeast, flour and water, let it knead for10/15 mins then slowly add eggs, butter and all the rest, continue kneading until the dough is elastic but not sticky, the whole kneading process should last a total of 40 mins.
Put the first dough to rise and rest in a warm dry place for 15 hours, or until it becomes three times what it is.
The second dough is slightly more tricky: in a container hand mix lukewarm water (30ml), sugar, honey the condensed or powdered milk, vanilla extract, add the egg yolk and mix very well. Then put it on a side.
Get the first dough and put it in your knead machine, add the flour to it and start it up, then very slowly start pouring the egg mix in it and only once it is well kneaded add the butter slowly. Let the machine knead it until it is very elastic and smooth, but not sticky.
Take the second Dough out of the machine and add raisins, candied oranges and the rum extract and knead them in by hand. Once finished put it on the table surface (sprinkled with flour) , make a ball, cover it with a bowl and let it rise well covered for 50 mins.
After the rest, flatten it a little and make a couple of rounds of folds. Then make a ball. But it is the Panettone paper mould (900gr or 1 kg mould), put it in a warm non sraft place to rise for 6/7 hours. The dough has to fill 3/4 of the mould. Then leave it out in the air uncovered for another hour. It has to make a little harder skin on the top.
Then with a razor blade or an extremely sharp knife, cut a cross on the top, roughly 0.3 cm deep, “open” the little triangles from the inside letting them hang from the border sides of the mold, take a brush and delicately brush melt butter under these folds, then put them back. This will give the panettone the traditional cross shape on the top.
Preheat Oven at 200C and put the panettone inside for 7 minutes, then open the oven, let the vapour out, lower the temperature to 190C and let it bake for 40 mins, check on it, if you see the surface burning put a foild of baking paper on top.
Once it is baked, take 2 knitting needles, “stab” it on the lower end and hand it upside down in an empty pot for 12 hours. It will then be ready!