Panettone

Panettone is an Italian Christmas essential bake. I’d never eaten any until recently, always viewing it as something nice but plain. How wrong I was. The enriched dough is lovely and the “extras” add texture and flavour. The recipe below has been put together from others with very few changes of my own, so hopefully it’s reasonably authentic.

Makes: One Panettone that cuts into about 10 – 12 portions

Time: 40 minutes hands-on time, but at least 2 hours of waiting time while it proves

Level: Fairly easy

Equipment: A 15cm/6” round, loose bottomed cake tin. A stand mixer would also be a great help, but not absolutely essential if you enjoy kneading by hand.

Ingredients

  • 400g/14oz strong white flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 7g sachet of instant yeast
  • 125ml/4.5fl oz lukewarm milk + a few tablespoons in reserve
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten + 2 yolks
  • 75g/2.5oz white caster sugar
  • 150g/5.5oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g/7oz of “extras” (*see below)
  • more butter (melted) for brushing

* In my recent version I used 50g/1.75oz dried cranberries, 50g/1.75oz large sultanas and 100g/3.5oz golden raisins. (I would have reduced the sultanas and put in 50g/1.75oz peel for a crunchier texture, but my wife doesn’t like peel. Other options could include any chopped nuts, especially pistachios, quartered glace cherries, or even some chocolate chips and definitely some peel, if allowed.)

Instructions

1. Double line and butter the tin. Cut the paper so that it stands above the top of the tin by about 75mm/3” as the panettone should rise considerably.

2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt on one side and the yeast on the other. Mix it all together then make a well in the centre.

3. Pour in the lukewarm milk and beaten eggs and mix well. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes in a warm, draught-free place, to form a “sponge”.

4. Add in the egg yolks and the sugar. Mix to create a soft dough. Add in a little more milk to loosen the mixture if necessary. (Take care not to let it become too wet.)

5. Work in the softened butter then knead until it’s smooth and elastic. This should take 5 – 7 minutes in a stand mixer, longer by hand.

6. Place the dough in another bowl, lightly oiled. Cover with a tea towel or cling film or a shower cap and leave at room temperature for 90 – 120 minutes until doubled in volume.

7. Knock the dough back to release the air and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead in the “extras” taking care to ensure that they are well distributed. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the prepared tin. Cover again and leave to rise a second time. Meanwhile turn the oven on to reach 190C / Fan 170C / 375F / Gas 5.

8. When the dough has risen, brush the top with melted butter and cut a cross in the top using a sharp knife or razor blade. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 180C / Fan 160C / 350F / Gas 4.

9. Brush the top again with melted butter and bake for a further 25 – 30 minutes, until it has a golden appearance. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.