Thursday, November 29, 2012

Easy not-at-all-dry Panettone!

I'm back!!! Back to updating this blog, back to catching up with friends, and back to waking up each morning without the imprint of a medical textbook across my face. I'm done with uni for the year, and the first thing I did once I got back home from my final exam was to assemble the ingredients for this Panettone.


I love seasonal baking, and there is no other time in the year as euphoria-inducing as the Christmas season for bakers. Christmas cookies, fruit cakes, mince pies, gingerbread houses, and...panettone! Baking funsies all around. Panettone is a fruit-studded bread loaf, enriched with eggs and butter and leavened with yeast. It has its origins in Milan, Italy, and is traditionally prepared for eating at Christmas and New Year functions. I've seen them being sold all year round at small grocers, and recently popping up at the bigger supermarkets.


I baked this panettone at my brother's request. He studies Italian at school, and they must have been learning about the country's cuisine at the time, because he came home one day with an empty panettone box (a learning tool from his teacher, I presume), and lamenting over the fact that he didn't actually get to eat its contents. My grandmother offered to buy him one the very next day, at which point I intervened with the promise to make one from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!



Even though I've accumulated somewhere upwards of fifty baking texts, it was to the internet I turned for a panettone recipe. The keyword in the search box? "Easy". An easy panettone recipe was what I wanted; one which didn't require a sourdough starter, or 16 hours of proofing in the fridge. I found this recipe, and as you can see from the pictures, the result was fantastic! It still took me around 5 hours to make, but for panettone, that really is nothing. Especially considering how good it tasted.



Most of the sweetness of the panettone came from the dried cranberries and raisins, which I'd soaked in rum for two days (you can omit this step). The bread itself was buttery and soft. I was very happy with the texture of the crumb, and I give all the credit to my KitchenAid mixer, which transformed the lumpy wet mixture into a satiny, elastic dough in no time at all. I used to knead all my bread dough by hand, and I can tell you that it is almost impossible to achieve the "gluten windowpane" manually. So for y'all without nifty mixers or bread machines...just try your best :D


Recipe for Raisin & Cranberry Panettone

Makes one panettone, around 15 cm high and 10cm in diameter

Adapted from Maison Cupcake

Ingredients

7g dried instant yeast
400g strong white bread flour
75g white granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks at room temperature
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
half teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of finely grated orange zest
half teaspoon salt
175g softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons rum diluted with 2 tablespoons water
40g butter to finish
1 egg for the egg wash

Method

1. (optional step) Two days before making the panettone dough, soak the raisins and dried cranberries in the rum+ 2 tablespoons water mixture in an airtight container. Store in fridge. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature 30 minutes before incorporating it into the dough.

2. Mix 125g of the strong bread flour with the yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add two whole eggs and 3 tablespoons lukewarm water and stir until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle a little dry flour over the surface (to stop a skin from forming). Cover the bowl with cling film, and leave in a warm place for an hour.

3. Once the hour is up, stir in the two egg yolks, vanilla extract and grated orange zest. Gradually stir in 175g of strong white bread flour until a soft sticky dough (more like putty!) is formed.

4. Transfer the putty-dough into the mixer bowl and, using the dough-hook attachment, mix on medium  speed for 30 seconds. Add in the softened butter, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add in the remaining flour and mix for another 6 minutes. You may have to stop the mixture and scrap down the sides of the bowl now and then. Dough is done mixing when you can stretch it out so thinly that light can shine through (as seen in this image).

5. Cover the mixer bowl with cling film, and leave the dough in a warm place to rise for 2 to 2.5 hours, until doubled in size.

6. Uncover the dough and punch it to deflate it. Add in the dried fruit (if you've soaked them in rum, make sure you drain and dry them with a paper towel before adding). Using your hand, incorporate the fruit into the dough by mixing and folding.

7. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone tin (or some other deep round tin) lined with foil. Using a knife, cut a shallow cross into the top of the dough. Cover the tin loosely with cling film, and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

8. 15 minutes before you put the dough into the oven to bake, turn the oven on to preheat at 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit). Put the baking rack towards the very bottom of the oven. When ready to bake, brush some melted butter over the top of the dough, and put a 2cm x 2 cm knob of butter at the centre of the cross.

9. Put the panettone dough into the oven and bake at 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and bake for another 40 minutes. You may have to cover the top of the loaf with a piece of foil 20 minutes into baking to stop it from burning. 10 minutes before you take the loaf out of the oven, quickly brush the top of the loaf with egg wash, and remove the foil covering the top so that the heat will turn the egg wash into a nice, bronzed glaze.

10. When panettone is done baking, take it out of the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, before tipping it out onto a cooling rack and letting it cool completely before slicing into it.




2 comments:

  1. omg I can't believe you made your own panettone. I usually stock up at Christmas because I love the stuff. Yours looks luscious!

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  2. @Helen - it was still nice and soft after 3 days. I was very proud of it xD

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