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Panettone (Italian Christmas Bread)



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Nativity and Visitation of the Shepherds from Duc De Berry's Tres Belle Heures, Begun circa 1382
Nativity and Visitation of the Shepherds from Duc de Berry's
Tres Belle Heures, begun
circa 1382
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Modern Baker: Time-Saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes and Cookies 
by Nick Malgieri

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Mystic Nativity, 1500
Mystic Nativity, 1500
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Panettone (Italian Christmas Bread)
How to Bake: Complete Guide to Perfect Cakes,
Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Breads, Pizzas, Muffins...

by Nick Malgieri, 1995, HarperCollins

One 9-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings

1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope)
active dry yeast
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted
butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white rum
3 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks,
at room temperature
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) each
diced candied orange peel,
dark raisins or currants,
and golden raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter,
melted, for finishing

One 9-inch-diameter x 3-inch-deep springform pan, buttered and floured

“In Italy, panettone is the traditional Christmas bread – offered when friends
drop in throughout the holiday season, served for breakfast Christmas morning,
and sometimes filled with pastry cream or chocolate to make a fancy dessert.
Though in Italy panettone is prepared in some pastry shops, most often, even
there, it comes from the same industrial bakeries that market their panettone
in the United States – Motta, Alemagna, and Tre Marie, to name a few.
Panettone, whether prepared in a pastry shop or a factory, is usually made with
a type of sourdough known as lievito madre or lievito naturale (mother yeast or natural yeast) rather than the manufactured yeast which is a by-product of beer making. Lievito madre is a combination of flour, water, and a natural yeast-rich source, such as grape skins or hops, which cause fermentation. Enzymes and
acids that form during the fermentation of the lievito madre (but not when manufactured yeast is used) retard staling, moisture loss, and mold.
The following recipe is for a panettone alla casalinga, or home-style panettone
made with yeast. Though it is not difficult to prepare, do take the following precautions, Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature; cold butter
or eggs may cause the dough to ‘break’ or separate, and make a coarse-textured panettone. Be careful not to let the dough overferment, either after it is mixed
or in the pan, or the panettone will fall when it is baked. Test for doneness
with a thin knife or skewer after about 40 minutes – overbaked panettone is
lethally dry.”

1. To make the sponge, in a small saucepan over a low flame, heat the
milk until it is just warm, about 110 degrees [F.] Remove from the heat
and pour into a small bowl; whisk in the yeast. Stir in the flour until
smooth. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the sponge
to rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
2. To make the dough, use a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle,
and beat the butter until it is soft and light, then add the salt, sugar,
lemon zest, vanilla, and rum. Continue beating until light and smooth,
about 5 minutes.
3. Combine the eggs and yolks and beat a third into the butter mixture; continue to beat until the mixture is smooth. On the lowest speed, add
a third of the flour and beat until it is absorbed. Scrape the sides of the
bowl and paddle and add another third of the egg mixture, then another
third of the flour. Finally, add the remaining egg mixture. Beat until
smooth, then scrape the bowl and beat in the remaining flour until it
is absorbed. Scrape the sponge into the mixer bowl and beat on the
lowest speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and
slightly elastic. Beat in the candied peel and raisins.
4. Butter a bowl and turn the dough out into it. Turn the dough so the
top is buttered. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow
the dough to rise at room temperature for up to 1 1/2 hours, or until
doubled in bulk.
5. Stir the dough with a rubber spatula to deflate it and scrape it into the prepared pan. Butter a piece of plastic wrap and drape loosely over the
pan, buttered side in. Allow the dough to rise again at room temperature
for about 1 hour, or until it reaches the top of the pan.
6. When the dough has almost reached the top of the mold, set a rack
in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees [F.]
7. When the dough has risen completely, uncover and place in the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the dough is well risen and deeply
colored, then cover the top loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and
continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes longer, or until a thin knife
inserted in the center emerges without any dough sticking to it.
8. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, remove the side of the
pan, and slide the panettone off the pan base to a rack. Paint it all
over with the melted butter and allow it to cool completely.

Serving:  Serve for breakfast, brunch, or tea.
It also makes good French toast.

Storage:  Wrap cooled panettone in several layers of
plastic wrap to retain maximum freshness. Panettone
may be frozen for 1 month. Leftover, slightly
dry panettone makes excellent toast.

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