Thanks to our friend, Pam, for introducing us to this traditional Italian Holiday bread. We love it!
We were going to bake it together, but because of a snow storm, we had to remain in our separate kitchens, while consulting over the phone.
Here is the recipe we used. We liked the overnight starting, since the result is rumored to stay fresh longer. —
Overnight Starter (Biga) Ingredients
3/4 cup (3 1/8 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/16 teaspoon SAF instant yeast (just a pinch)
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) water
all of the biga (above)
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
1 ⅛ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 teaspoons SAF instant yeast
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (3 ounces) golden raisins
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) slivered dried apricots
1/2 cup (2 ounces) dried cranberries or flavored fruit bits
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) candied orange peel OR dried pineapple, chopped
2 tablespoons orange or lemon zest
1. The Biga: Combine the biga ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours).
2. Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and mix and knead them together—by hand, mixer or bread machine—until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk). Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits and zest.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone pan or other straight-sided, tall 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan. [We used a panettone paper “pan.”] Lightly cover the pan and let the dough rise till it’s just crested over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.
[After rising, before baking, we brushed with beaten egg and sprinkled sliced almonds on top.]
Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 25 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. [The interior temperature should be between 180° and 185° F.] Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely.
[Recipe adapted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Dec. 1991 issue.]