I’ve been away from home for the better part of a month. The husband had to travel for work, and I went along and had a short vacation. I’m back and a little late with this month’s Bread Baking Babes bread, Panettone. Judy picked this Panetonne for us to make but I decided to make them as Mini Panetonne. Traditionally Panettone is served on Christmas Day, on Santo Stefano (December 26th), on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s served at breakfast, brunch, or after a main meal.
Panetonne is an Italian yeasted sweet bread originally from Milan, usually baked for Christmas and New Year. It is typically a tall round bread with a domed top, baked in round paper moulds. It is made with an enriched butter and egg dough, candied fruit and raisins and has a somewhat cake like texture. The classic Milanese Panettone has a cross cut into its top before it is baked. After it emerges from the oven, it is hung upside down for five to 10 hours to prevent the dome from collapsing and keeping its shape.
The origin of Panetonne is part fact and part fiction. What we know is that Romans ate a sweet egg and raisin bread called Panem Triticum. In 1395, an official decree stated that all Milanese bakeries must sell a sweet white bread called Pan de’ Sciori/ Il Pan del Ton to all on Christmas.
There are many versions of the origin of Panetonne. One credits to Toni, a kitchen boy in the Duke Ludovico of Milan’s court in the 15th century. It is told that the cook accidently burnt the crust of a sweet bread to be served at the Duke’s Christmas dinner table. Toni suggested serving it as it was saying it was a new recipe! Another variation of this story says Toni made a sweet bread using leftover dough, sugar, butter, eggs, candied fruit and such. The Duke and his guests loved whatever was served and El Pan de Toni became a Christmas favourite.
Another story, also in Duke Ludovico’s times, involves one Ughetto, a falconer and son of a captain of the Duke. The young man fell in love with the beautiful daughter of a baker. To impress her, Ughetto pretending to be a baker, baked her a sweet bread loaf with dried fruit. Duke Ludovico’s wife Beatrice was delighted with Ughetto’s bread. She helped persuade the captain to allow Ughetto to marry the baker’s daughter.
Originally Panetonne was a rather plain sweet white bread. Later additions were vanilla, raisins, candied lemon and orange peel and some lemon or orange zest. Nowadays, not-so-traditional Panetonne include things like chocolate, nuts, other dried fruits like pineapple, apricots and cherries, and glazes. Pandoro, a similar sweet bread from Verona is without candied fruits and raisins and much taller.
Typically Panettone is cut vertically into wedge-shaped slices and served with hot drinks or sweet wine. Panetonne is good with sweetened mascarpone, zabaglione. Panetonne is also good toasted and spread with butter. It’s also wonderful sliced, or toasted and slathered with butter. Leftovers are pretty good as a trifle or bread pudding.
This Panetonne is adapted from this recipe which is uses an overnight starter. It is an easy recipe and doesn’t require hanging the Panetonne upside down. I made my Panetonne with dried apricots and cranberries, raisins and pistachios. I also chose to top half my mini Panetonne with melted dark chocolate.
If you don’t have paper Panetonne moulds, you can use a smaller cake tin. Line it on the bottom and sides with baking parchment. Keep the parchment on the side higher than the side of the cake tin to allow you to bake a taller Panetonne. Otherwise you can bake mini Panetonne using Dariole moulds or small pudding moulds like I did. Muffin tins or paper liners will work too. Just reduce baking time a bit.
For the Overnight Starter :
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- One pinch instant yeast
- 1/3 cup water at room temperature
For the Panetonne Dough :
- all of the overnight starter
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 egg
- 60 gm unsalted butter soft at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp orange blossom water OR 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
- 2 tbsp orange zest
Make the Overnight Starter :
- Mix together starter ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover loosely and allow them to rest overnight in a cool pace on the kitchen counter for about 8 to 12 hours.
Make the Dough :
- Knead together all of the dough ingredients except the butter, fruit and zest. Knead by hand or using a machine. Add the butter last and knead to a soft, smooth and elastic dough. Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise, until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
- Soak the dried fruit in hot water or hot orange juice to soften. Drain before adding to the dough in the following step.
- Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits and zest. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone mould or other straight-sided round cake tin. Remember to line the bottom and sides with baking parchment so the sides are taller than the sides of the pan. Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it's just crested over the rim of the pan. This should take about an hour or so.
- Divide the dough equally into about 10 portions if making Mini Panetonne. Shape each portion of dough into a smooth ball and drop into greased moulds. Allow to rise till the dough just crests the rim of the moulds. Brush the tops with milk.
- Bake at 200C (400F) 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to then reduce the heat to 180C (350F) and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Reduce the baking time if baking Mini Panetonne. Panettone should be a deep brown when done, should sound hollow when tapped.
- Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely. If glazing with sugar or melted chocolate, wait until the Panetonne have cooled completely. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.
The Bread Baking Babes are –