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Updated November 17, 2014
cup diced dried pineapple
cup diced dried apricots
tablespoon active dry yeast
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix together dried pineapple, dried cherries, golden raisins and dried apricots in a large bowl.
Add sugar, active dry yeast, flour and salt.
Heat milk, butter, honey and lemon juice to 120°F in a saucepan; stir into the mix.
Mix in 2 lightly beaten eggs and vanilla extract; cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans or two empty 10-ounce coffee cans and line with parchment paper.
Add the dough; cover and let rise 1 hour.
Bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool before slicing.
More About This Recipe
- There are so many different types of holiday breads to celebrate the season with, but I have to say that my favorite is panettone.
Panettone is Italian sweet bread studded with dried fruits. Rick Steves told me on TV recently that in Italy on Christmas, children go from door to door in their neighborhoods giving away homemade panettone to the elderly who don’t have anyone with whom to share the holidays.
Here across the pond, panettone can be found all over the place this time of year, from the grocery store to chain café-bakeries. Some make it in the traditional cupola shape, while others make it in any old loaf pan (like me). Some bake it with citrusy fruits like lemon and candied orange; others use whatever dried fruits they have in the pantry (again, like me).
There are many great things about panettone – like how it stores well at room temperature for up to a week, and that it’s absolutely delicious – but the greatest is that when it comes to homemade holiday breads, this is the hardest recipe to mess up. If you’re looking to bake a festive bread but don’t have much time, talent, energy or all of the above, panettone is your new best friend.
Panettone is prepared like a quick bread, but its consistency after baking is dense and spongy, almost like a sourdough. The dough itself is quite mild in flavor, but the chopped, dried fruits studded throughout the loaf give it a sweet, tangy taste. Some say it’s better than stollen, another traditional holiday bread.
Panettone tastes just like Christmas, in bread form!
Stephanie (aka Girl versus Dough) has joined Tablespoon to share her adventures in the kitchen. Check out Stephanie’s Tablespoon member profile and keep checking back for her own personal recipes on Tablespoon!
- 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
- 1/3 Cup warm water
- 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 Teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/2 Cup softened unsalted butter
- 3 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 Cup currants
- 1/2 Cup golden raisins
Dissolve the yeast in a bowl with water. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, butter, and yeast in a large bowl beat together to combine.
Add in the flour in 2 or 3 batches, stirring to combine. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead the dough until soft, adding more flour if necessary. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow it to rest and rise for 30 to 45 minutes. It should double in volume.
Turn the dough out again onto a floured surface, punch it down, and knead in the currants and raisins. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a buttered pan (about 2-quart size will work). Allow to rise again until doubled in volume, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, bake the bread for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.
- Marinated fruit:
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
- ⅓ cup dried tart cherries
- ¼ cup triple sec (orange-flavored liqueur) or orange juice
- 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ cup warm water (100° to 110°)
- 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 6 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
- ¼ cup fat-free milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon butter or stick margarine, melted
- 2 teaspoons turbinado or granulated sugar
To prepare marinated fruit, combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl let stand 1 hour. Drain fruit in a sieve over a bowl, reserving fruit and 2 teaspoons liqueur separately.
To prepare dough, dissolve yeast and 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar in warm water in a small bowl let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups level with a knife. Combine 1/2 cup flour and next 6 ingredients (1/2 cup flour through egg yolk) in a large bowl beat at medium speed of a mixer 1 minute or until smooth. Add yeast mixture and 1/2 cup flour beat 1 minute. Stir in marinated fruit, 2 1/2 cups flour, and pine nuts. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes) add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, about 1 1/2 hours. Dough will not double in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Punch dough down let rest 5 minutes. Divide in half, shaping each into a ball. Place balls into 2 (13-ounce) coffee cans coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
Uncover dough. Place coffee cans on bottom rack in oven, and bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove bread from cans, and cool on a wire rack. Combine reserved 2 teaspoons liqueur and 1 teaspoon butter brush over loaves. Sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.
HOW TO MAKE HOLIDAY PANETTONE LAYER CAKE
What started out as a way to add moist flavor to our Panettone, this cake has become a seasonal family favorite. Even my picky eaters could not resist pineapple flecked, rum flavored whipped cream between layers of sweet bread!
PREPARE THE CAKE AND WHIP THE CREAM
- Start by removing all the paper wrapping from sides and bottom of a store bought Panettone. Then, cut the cake into layers by laying the cake on its side and cuttting it into 5 (1-inch) thick rounds with a bread knife. Be sure to keep the layers in order, so you can re-stack the cake easily. The final cut should be where the dome of the cake meets the side. This will be your top layer. Set the layers aside.
- The next step is make the whipped cream. I like to use a hand-mixer for this step, but you can also use a stand mixer if you have one, fitted with the whip attachment. So add the heavy cream to a medium-size bowl and whip the cream until soft peaks form. Stir in the powdered sugar and rum. Continue to beat with the mixer until you see firm peaks. Last step for the cream is to fold the crushed pineapple into the whipped cream until well distributed. Set the bowl aside. Note – You can substitute non-dairy whipped topping for the cream to make it vegan.
ASSEMBLE THE HOLIDAY PANETTONE LAYER CAKE
- Build the cake starting with the original bottom layer.
- Place the layer, cut side up, on a serving plate. Use a spatula to spread about 1/5 of the whipped cream mixture over the entire layer. Place next cake layer on top of whipped cream and repeat until all the layers have been used. The top layer should be the cake dome.
- Decorate the top of the cake with cherries and pineapple set into the whipped cream.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day ahead.
Keep the layers stacked in the same order you cut them to make re-assembly easy. Cut off the cake dome as the last layer. The next time I will cut a thin slice off the dome to give the decorations a flat surface to sit on.
Cut the cake with a sharp knife. As you cut, the layers will naturally compress.
WHAT IS A PANETTONE
Panettone was invented in Milan. The word “panettone” derives from the Italian word “panetto”, a small loaf cake. The Italian suffix “one” changes the meaning to “large cake”. Panettone is thought to have ancient origins, dating back to the Roman Empire, where a type of leavened bread was sweetened with honey. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry and is eaten worldwide at Christmas and New Years.
DOES PANETTONE EXPIRE
Unopened, store-bought Panettone has a shelf-life of about 5 months. It freezes well too! Buy when they go on sale, then freeze to have all year long. They take up a lot of freezer space, so I cut the Panettone into slices and re-package in plastic freezer bags. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup dried currants
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted (Optional)
In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. Cover and let stand 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well. Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough forms into a manageable ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky. (May need up to 5 cups flour.) Place dough in a large, lightly pan-sprayed bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and spray a round 8-inch cake pan with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, toss dried fruit with confectioners' sugar. Punch down dough in bowl, transfer to floured surface, and knead in the fruit.
Form dough into a ball, place in prepared cake pan, cover loosely with dish towel, and let rise 30 minutes. (Loaf will rise above the pan sides.) Brush with melted butter, if desired. Bake for 45 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 10 wedges.
Sealed & Delivered: Recipes in a Jar
Curried Lentil Soup Ingredient List
2 bay leaves
1 dried chile pepper
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (sealed in a plastic bag or sachet)
5 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup yellow lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup yellow lentils
3/4-liter glass jar
Layers of ingredients in a Holiday Gift Jar
©Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil
Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil
Blue Cornbread with Pineapple Ingredient List
4 chopped dried pineapple rings
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 cup blue cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teasopoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-liter glass jar
Tip: Layer finer ingredients like flour and sugar at the bottom of the jar.
A Holiday Gift Jar with Layers of Ingredients
©Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil
Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil
Super-Chunky Christmas Cookies Ingredient List
1 cup toasted shredded coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup red and green M&M's
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2-liter glass jar
A Holiday Gift Jar Containing Layered Ingredients
©Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil
Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil
Holiday Panettone Ingredient List
1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
3/4 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2-quart glass jar
If you're giving this mix to a nut lover, add 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts in place of some of the dried fruit.
Making the Perfect Panettone, the Everest of Holiday Baking
For every pastry chef developing a recipe, there comes a moment when the thing standing between perfection and total disaster finally steps into the light.
For pastry chef Matt Tinder , that moment came four years ago in the kitchen at San Francisco’s Coi , when he pulled his second loaf of panettone out of the oven, flipped it upside down to keep it from deflating, and watched it implode. The first had come out surprisingly well, but now with this one, three days of work lay in crumbs on the floor. He studied the uneven pockets of air in the underdone center, and it was abundantly clear. The thing gone wrong was the yeast.
Without extremely lively yeast, panettone is essentially a bad fruitcake—dense, sickeningly sweet, and not a pretty sight. And like bad fruitcake, loaves of bad panettone sit on many tables this time of year. But this is where the similarities end.
Technically, panettone is not a cake but a bread of leavened wheat flour blended with an extravagant amount of eggs, sugar, and butter, then spiked with some dried fruit (usually raisins and candied citrus), and baked into a low, round loaf or into a tall, gently peaked one. A good panettone is gently sweet and airy, with a pleasing chewiness.
Tinder bakes 10 panettone at a time. The process starting from mixing the first dough through inverting the baked loaves to cool takes 32 hours. Raising the yeast adds another week to that.
Yeast’s hungry consumption of sugars and subsequent burping of carbon dioxide create a network of caverns in otherwise very dense dough. The longer they can go at it without fermenting the dough into an alcoholic mess, the more delicate and airy the texture. The yeast’s work also gives panettone its signature rich flavor and silky crumb that resists going stale. A good panettone is best a week out and still good even a month later.
Going to the Source
The most famous panettone bakers are in northern Italy, particularly in Milan where the recipe is said to have originated around two centuries ago. Most recipes we see now for panettone are abridged for the masses. The real recipes are long and technical, with key details rarely written down, which is why pastry chefs view panettone as the Everest of confections. Making it happen is terribly hard.
A decade ago, a young American pastry cook named Roy Shvartzapel packed up from elBulli in Spain to visit a village at the foot of the Alps just outside of Milan, in search of Iginio Massari . Massari is a legend and considered “the Michael Jordan of the panettone world,” Shvartzapel said, especially among the Italian cooks at elBulli. The cooks laughed at Shvartzapel's brazen plans to show up unannounced at Pasticceria Veneto , Massari’s bakery in Brescia.
But when Shvartzapel knocked on the door, Massari welcomed him warmly and agreed to teach him on the spot. Massari later told him why, explaining he considered passing on the panettone craft his life imperative, yet few show up so eager to learn.
Massari’s panettone lived up to the hype. It was “ethereally buttery, light as a feather yet rich at the same time—a flavor bomb,” Shvartzapel said. Today, as chef and owner of Houston’s Common Bond Cafe & Bakery , Shvartzapel makes his own based on what he learned that first visit and several more since.
Unfortunately, “most people have only experienced a super mass-produced panettone, made with liquid or instant yeast and then stored in a box for many months at a time,” he said.
The most recognized commercial manufacturer is Bauducco , a Brazilian company of Italian origins that sells 60 million of its $8 boxed cakes (Sun-Maid raisin or Hershey’s chocolate chip flavor) annually worldwide. But even a mass-produced panettone takes immense labor. Bauducco advertises each loaf takes 52 hours of work, which include repeated visits to a climate-controlled fermentation room to proof.
Technique Over Formula
Tinder was working off a vague scribble of ratios and times that he had picked up from a friend with an Italian grandmother when he began experimenting at Coi four years ago. The awkward Google translation described things to do to the “living mother,” which he realized had to do with the care and feeding of live yeast, lievito madre in Italian.
Working with live yeast is a technique lost to many bakers on this side of the globe, and the added challenge of cultivating it from thin air appealed to Tinder’s purist tendencies. (He also favors stone-milling whole grains and handmixing.) Besides that, the recipe called for mastery of every baking fundamental, from controlling temperature, acidity, and the alcohol generated through fermentation to managing panettone’s souffle-like tendency to collapse. Tinder had his new obsession.
Tinder uses all his senses to check that all the ingredients are incorporated.
Baking panettone is technique over formula. “You can’t hide making this,” Tinder says. “It is or it isn’t.”
After months of trial and error, he was turning out good loaves and keeping the yeast happy—most of the time. He was working on panettone as an after-hours project, so he would set up an alarm to feed the mother steadily every four hours, even through the night, for weeks at a time, to maximize its volumizing power, but even then, sometimes the yeast would suddenly fail to rise or sour for no apparent reason. The uncertainty of it all gave him nightmares when he was actually asleep.
Eventually he got in touch with Shvartzapel, the only other American baker he knew who was making panettone in small batches with natural live yeast.
They troubleshooted through frequent texts and photos of their respective failures and successes, Shvartzapel passing on to Tinder some of the secrets of the craft that Massari had passed to him.
“Eventually, it all came together when I started looking at the process like beefing up an athlete,” Tinder said. “Before competition, you follow a strict regimen of regular feeding and rest.”
This meant the mother needed a little breathing room when proofing, and nearly no air during downtime. It needed to be bathed regularly to maintain a consistent pH around 4.1 to 4.4 to avoid becoming too acidic for gluten to form or for the yeast to prosper. It needed to eat on schedule. It needed a vacation every other week, so Tinder set up a rotation of mothers—nicknamed “Boy” and “Girl,” respectively—to avoid overtaxing either one. It also demanded very gentle introductions to strangers like salt, sugar, and fats.
Tinder had already baked almost 800 loaves of panettone before he served his first slice as the pastry chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood at the start of this year.
Chocolate and fig panettone and Matt Tinder at Meadowood. Chocolate panettone with the markings of a winner: vertical caves and delicate strands in the dough, and a golden crust that peaks like the dome of a Renaissance cathedral.
Chef Christopher Kostow said he didn't have much experience with panettone before Tinder arrived. But he came to like it so much, Tinder left him a slice on his cutting board every morning to enjoy with his coffee. “It shows an impressive level of mastery,” Kostow said.
“Matt’s panettone has this beautiful, stretchy quality to it,” pastry chef Brooks Headley of New York’s Del Posto agreed. In fact, it’s so good that Headley confessed he stopped working on his own version for now. “You can taste the obsession and the precision. It is the best stuff anywhere, and once you’ve had the ultimate version of something, you’re never satisfied with the others.”
In the kitchen at Meadowood, Tinder was finishing his last week as pastry chef there, but he was still knee deep in the middle of baking ten loaves each of chocolate-fig and raisin-Meyer lemon panettone and feeding the mother.
Tinder learns to adjust the recipe to whatever equipment he's using. To compensate for the heat generated by the spinning hook, he keeps the speed low and mixes only just enough.
He showed me the order and timing for mixing in the ingredients, an extremely precise practice. He had switched mixers and so had been readjusting his timing, feeling frequently with his hands to make sure that the heat generated by the friction of the mixing would not cause the yeast to develop too quickly and that everything was still emulsifying. He declared the dough had reached its perfect state when the aroma had become what he described as “something between vaguely and hauntingly sweet.”
Tinder’s next project is to ramp up panettone production for a bread program that he has in the works with Daniel Patterson , chef and owner of Coi and other Bay Area restaurants.
Panettone year round? I asked. “Why not? I don’t know why we still have that rule,” Tinder said. “Except maybe that the holidays are the one time you actually have the three days you need to make this.”
Common Bond (Houston, Texas) Candied fruit or chocolate panettone ($40).
Pasticceria Veneto (Brescia, Italy) Sultanas and candied orange peel with amaretto icing, or chocolate with raisins and candied orange peel (32-38 EUR per kilo).
Tinder will offer his la vita madre and perennial panettone through the DPG bread program. Find him now at the Calistoga Farmer’s Market , Saturday 9am-1pm with chocolate and fig, and golden raisin with Meyer lemon panettone ($40/kilo).
Should you want to fall down the rabbit hole yourself, Matt shares his panettone recipe here .
What IS panettone, anyway?
Panettone is a cake-like yeast bread that’s dotted with bits of dried fruit. No, not a fruit cake, though it’s often mistaken as such.
Panettone has its origins in Milano, but it’s available throughout Italy during the holiday season. Stores carry the bread in a variety of sizes, perfect for sharing with friends. At family gatherings, the bread might be served with a glass of prosecco after a holiday meal. It’s a tradition that is embraced by Italian families all over the world!
If you have any Italian friends in your circle, you may very well have been gifted a loaf of this bread during the holiday season.
While Panettone is readily available in Italy, it’s not as common in America. If you wish to experience this Italian tradition, making it panettone at home from scratch is a wonderful way to do so!
Making this panettone recipe from scratch
You’ll need to plan ahead for this one! This yeasted bread requires that you make a “starter” or “sponge” and let it sit overnight. This bubbly mixture of flour, water, and yeast gives the dough a bit of a head start!
Left overnight, this starter will begin to rise and the yeast will become active, giving good rise to the panettone bread.
The following day, you’ll combine the remaining ingredients — except for the dried fruits and zest! — with the starter and allow the dough to rise for an hour or two. Once it’s nice and puffy, it’s time to add the fruit that makes this panettone recipe sing.
While this bread could be made in loaf pans, a traditional panettone recipe is baked in special paper molds. These molds are oven-proof and make it easy for giving — just tie on a ribbon or bow and off you go!
Transfer the completed dough to a baking mold and allow it to rise again, then bake. (Bread making isn’t difficult, but it does require a bit of patience!)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
- 1/3 cup whole milk, warmed
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for surface
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract
- 1 cup diced candied (glazed) orange peel
- 1 1/4 cups golden raisins
- Vegetable oil, for bowl
- Pearl sugar, for sprinkling, optional
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, for sprinkling
Sprinkle yeast over milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle 2 ounces flour (about 1/2 cup) and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar over top. Cover with plastic, and let stand for 1 hour.
Add remaining 12 ounces flour and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, the beaten eggs, and the salt. Mix together on medium speed until dough forms a smooth, stiff ball, about 5 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix dough on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add extracts, orange peel, and raisins. Mix until combined.
Turn out dough onto a clean surface, and form into a ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight.
Bring dough to room temperature, and divide in half. Form each half into a ball place each in a 5 1/4-by-3 3/4-inch paper panettone mold or a small brown paper bag that has been rolled down to about 5 inches. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly beat remaining egg. Brush egg wash onto panettone dough, and sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. Bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes.
Remove molds from oven, and run two wooden skewers horizontally through the center of each panettone loaf. Hang loaves upside down by propping ends of each skewer on 2 large heavy canisters or cans. Let cool completely.
Panettone (Italian Christmas Cake)
Preheat your oven to 425 °F. In your stand mixer combine butter and eggs, and mix with your paddle attachment on low-medium until ingredients combine (just a few minutes).
Add your sugar, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar and continue mixing.
Once everything is incorporated, reduce your mixer to LOW and gradually add in your flour and milk (alternating each one). Mix until it’s a nice creamy, silky consistency.
Add in your zests and juices, and mix through. With your mixer still on low gradually add in your cranberries, raisins and almonds.
Spray your Panettone molds with cooking spray and fill them HALF way with Panettone batter. Do not overfill. Place them onto a baking sheet and give them a little shake/whack to even out the mixture and release any air bubbles.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. If you’re using the largest molds you will have to bake them longer. It’s best to turn the baking sheet once during baking to ensure even browning. Allow Panettone to cool on a wire rack before slicing.