Well Christmas is almost with us, so what better time to make Panettone, a traditional Italian cake, eaten at this time of year. I have seen so many recipes for panettone, using many different ingredients, for flavours, almost all kinds of dried fruits, chocolate, almonds etc. But for mine I wanted to make it with what in the UK we might associate with Christmas, so I used sultanas, raisins and candied peel. They are ingredients used in a traditional British Christmas cake, so they seemed ideal for this recipe. This is a recipe that takes a long time, but that included two periods of proving the dough which accounts for 7 hours.
Panettone actually has a bread like texture, rather than a sponge cake, made with strong white bread flour. It should be a light texture, with lots of holes in it. With lemon and orange zest mixed into the dough as well as the candied peel my panettone gave off a wonderful aroma during baking. It turned out very well indeed, so far as I can see. I cant check the inside at present since I want to deliver it intact, to be cut on Christmas Day. But I am sure it will be fine. I will try to update this blog entry after it has been cut open.
I should say that you don’t need to wait for Christmas to make this lovely cake, I can see no reason why it shouldn’t be enjoyed at any time of year, particularly if varying the fruit and flavours used.
I dont have a panettone tin, so I had to improvise. To do this I used an 18cm deep cake tin and lined the sides with two layers of baking parchment, to a height of 20 cm. This was rather more than needed but I wanted to be sure that as the cake rose during baking it didn’t come over the top.
As said, I am very pleased with the result. Although it takes a very long time to make panettone I am sure it is worth all the effort.
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 3 medium eggs(large in USA)
- 60ml milk
- 60ml water
- 7g dried active yeast(not easybake/instant yeast)
- 70g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g granulated sugar
- Zest of one orange
- Zest of one lemon
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2tsp salt
- 80g sultanas
- 65g raisins
- 60g chopped candied peel
- Warm the milk and water together to about 43 degrees celsius(about 110 F)
- Pour the liquid into a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it.
- Leave it for 5-10 minutes, until it begins to froth.
- Add 4 tablespoons of flour and 2 teaspoons of sugar to the frothing mixture.
- Whisk the mixture to combine the flour and sugar.
- Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave for 30 minutes for the yeast to become very active.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer place the eggs, sugar, lemon and orange zest and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
- Tip the yeast mixture into the bowl and whisk again to combine.
- Put the flour and salt into the bowl and, with the dough hook, mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
- Add the butter and mix again until fully combined.
- Add the sultanas, raisins and chopped candied peel and mix until just combined. The dough will still be very sticky.
- Flour the work surface with a good amount of flour.
- Turn out the dough onto the flour and knead into the flour, scattering some on the top as well, until the dough is not longer sticky.
- Form into a ball and place into a large bowl, that has been greased.
- Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave to prove, in a warm place, for about 4 hours, until the dough has tripled in size.
- Remove from the bowl, onto a lightly floured surface and knock out the air.
- Form into a ball again.
- Place the dough into a panettone tin, or as I did line the base of an 18cm deep cake tin, with a removable base and line the sides with a double thickness of parchment paper, with comes to a height of about 7 or 8 inches, and place the dough in that.
- With a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of the dough.
- Gently cover again with plastic film and allow to prove for 2-3 hours until the dough has again risen to double its’ size.
- As the dough comes to the end of this second proving preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
- Ensure that racks are removed to allow room for the tin to go into the oven with out touching any elements.
- Remove the plastic film and use an egg wash to brush over the top of the dough.
- Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- To store the cake you can wrap it in plastic wrap and then tin foil to keep it fresh for up to a week.