Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Best Panettone Ever

    Soft, shreddy, rich, flavorful bread speckled with vanilla seeds, plump rum-soaked raisins and brandy-soaked cranberries.

Last year, I made panettone for the first time and thought it was pretty good for a first try. Then my friend Y came with a panettone from Marks and Spencer and it tasted better than mine because the orange peel flavor was stronger. It was still incomparable to the Milanese panettone I bought in Melbourne years ago. I think if you eat something for the first time, eat the best version so that you'll forever measure your future taste of the same thing against the best.

Panettone is a sweet bread that originated from Milan, Italy and it is eaten especially during Christmas. It is a rich bread with candied peel and rum-soaked raisins and has a distinctive look: it's always taller than it is wide. That is a problem for me because I can't get panettone parchment cases here. The other problem is that panettone, like chiffon cakes, is very soft and have to be hung so that it won't sit on its own weight. I didn't know that and the panettone I made for Christmas/New Year deflated as it cooled and sank in the middle. I also didn't know that panettone cooks as it cools. I had served my panettone straight out of the oven and it was a little bit sticky. I told my guests to eat the bread dipped into the vin santo that I had carried from Rome. The bread was so soft that upon dipping in the vin santo, it just soaked all the liquor and turned soggy. Laura has just confirmed that panettone is usually eaten with (not soaked) spumante, a champagne-like Italian wine. I have another question for Laura: do you tear the panettone or cut it? We tore it like monkey bread and it was fun to eat that way.

I once made 6 sponge cakes in one afternoon when I couldn't get the texture right, and threw each failed cake to the dog which turned its head the other way every time a cake landed near him. In that spirit of not giving up, I googled for another panettone recipe two days ago because the panettone I made for Christmas/New Year didn't have the right texture and taste. I wanted a panettone that was shreddy, not crumbly in texture. The latest recipe I found, named 'The Best Panettone Ever', made the best panettone I've ever eaten, better even than the first one I ate.

Unless you love panettone (and I do), don't attempt making it. A lot of time is needed to proof the dough. The dough has to be proofed first for 12 to 15 hours (less in hot weather) and then proofed again for 3 to 5 hours. However, the proofing time is dependent on the room temperature, as I found out last night. I made the dough at 4 pm yesterday, went to a dinner party, came home at midnight and did some reading. Suddenly, just as I was getting into bed, I remembered my dough and rushed to the oven. It was a Magic Porridge Pot scene:

This was 9 hours into proofing.

The other thing about making panettone is the hanging of the cooked bread. I used skewers as per the instructions but the bread pulled through the skewers and was mutilated. If you are not fussy about authentic-looking panettone, use a tube pan. I've read somewhere that large soup cans are good too but that still doesn't solve the hanging part.

I'v made several adjustments to the recipes, not in the amount but in the steps. Lahey's famous for his no-knead bread recipe and this too is a no knead recipe but I left the dough to proof in the mixer bowl and kneaded it after the first proofing because I wanted a shreddy bread. Btw, this recipe is great because everything is mixed at the beginning--you don't have to make a starter dough.

Right after we ate lunch, we pounced on the panettone. It was SO GOOD with coffee. The rain started soon after and I thought life just can't get any better. Really. I know Christmas is over but life is great and we should celebrate each day so make panettone even if it's not Christmas!

                            Out of focus but I want to show how wet the dough was.

    Windowpane stage is when the dough is so stretchy that it can be pulled into a thin, see-through membrane.

The dough was so wet and hard to handle that I used a heavy duty rubber spatula to scoop it and a pair of scissors to cut it.

The next day, after 8 hours of second proofing overnight in the fridge. I made twice the recipe and put one portion into a tube pan and another into a small cake tin.

Place a small spoonful of cold butter on the top before baking. The black specks are vanilla seeds. 

Hanging the poor bread.

The skewers tore through the bread because I used baking paper, not panettone parchment case.


The Best Panettone Ever (Adapted from Jim Lahey's recipe, published in Gourmet, Dec 2008)

1 cup raisins
2/3 cup candied orange peel
1/2 cup dried cranberries (my addition)
2 T light rum + 2 T hot water
1 T brandy (optional)
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t instant dry yeast (I used 1 t)
1/4 t grated lemon zest (I used zest from 1 large orange)
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (or use vanilla extract)
3 large eggs, room temp
1 T honey (I used maple syrup)
2/3 cup tepid water
10 T or about 170 gm (original recipe was 10 1/2 T) unsalted softened butter/1 T melted/1/2 T chilled

equipment: panettone cases or large parchment case to fit a 7 or 8" round pan, at least 4" tall (no need to grease) or larger tube pan (no need to grease or line)

1. Soak the raisins in the rum and hot water overnight. Soak the cranberries in brandy overnight.
2. Next day (schedule your time), mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, lemon or orange zest and vanilla seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer.
3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, honey/maple syrup and the tepid water.
4. With the mixer at low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Increase speed to medium and mix until well-combined.
5. Add the 10 spoons of softened butter, 1 T at a time, until well-incorporated between additions.
6. Mix the raisins (I didn't have to drain the raisins as instructed because the raisins soaked up all the liquid; wasteful to drain the rum off anyway), the cranberries, the candied peel and the 1 T melted butter and stir that into the dough mixture with a long wooden spoon or heavy-duty spatula until well-mixed.
7. Cover the dough in the same bowl with cling wrap (or transfer to a greased bowl) and leave in a cold oven about 6 hours (in warm weather) or longer (in cold weather; recipe said 12 to 15 hours).
8. Knead the dough in the mixer for about 10 minutes until the dough at 'window pane stage' or as per the original recipe, turn the dough out onto a floured board, pull and fold the dough from outer edges into the middle.
9. Put the dough into a 20 cm/8" tube pan or panettone parchment mould, cover with a wet towel and let it proof 3 to 5 hours until doubled and very soft and puffed. Sprinkle some water on top pf the panettone if it looks dry. About 15 minutes before panettone is to be baked, heat the oven at 180 C.
10. Snip an X on the top of the panettone with scissors (careful not to deflate the dough) and place the knob of cold butter in it. If using  tubepan, place small knobs of butter around the top of the bread.
11. Bake on the bottom rack 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
12. For panettone baked in tube pan, just turn over like you would a chiffon cake. For round pan, quickly pierce two long skewers parallel through the parchment paper and bread about 4-5 cm/2" from the base and hang the bread upside down in a pot to cool, about 1 hour.


Ciana Carrie said...

The panettone looks yummy, but I doubt I'll ever be able to bake it. It's just too much work.

tina said...

Hats off to you my dear, you really take the trouble to do it. I love cooking but have to find short cut ways to do things! Lazy me!

Chowchow said...

This looks amazing and not easy to bake. Well done Terri.

Anonymous said...

I love panettone and this is breathtaking

Anonymous said...

ok, I will look for an Italy pastry specialty shop, even though pricey, I will pay, rather all the messy works, pa-net-tone (must google to find out the prounciation).

Michelle Chin said...

man, this is really one tricky bread to make!

didn't really know what pannetone is even though i see it everywhere. wonder why i didn't bother to wiki it up!

anyway, since you wrote about it... ;D

Anonymous said...

terri, if i use an 8 inch tube pan to bake, does it mean i skip the last step using skewers? Instead, turn the tube pan upside down to cool just like chiffon cake?

thks alot for recipe, i love panettone, in fact we ate 2 huge ones from Italy over Christmas period ;P

terri@adailyobsession said...

waverley: it is but it's so gratifying. in fact, i am itching to make another batch but yeah, the proofing makes me think twice.

tina: me too, i always take short cuts!

chow: it's not tt hard, just a lil bit more work than usual

anon: lol, i think my panettone turned out quite stunning too!!

anon: i think it's pan-ne-ton-ne

mich:pick it up on that deli store on lygon street corner

mp: hi dear! how have you been? yes if you use a tube pan, no need to grease or line n just turn upside down when bread is done. it's very yum and i wish i have some right now bc it's raining again:D!

terri@adailyobsession said...

anon: it's "pan-neh-ton-neh". i think.

Anonymous said...

You are the BEST Terri! YUM YUM YUM.............
If you itch to make it again, please let me know, I will go over to help you and get a free Panettone. Hehehehe...


Chocolate Cookies & Candies said...

I've never ever tried Panettone despite living minutes walk to an amazing Italian deli and M&S. Must go and buy one tomorrow. I don't think I'll attempt something as complicated as this.


Terri, I am REALLY tempted to make this. I was beaten by the bread-making bug a month ago but it's gone. Now, you've awoken that bug with this sumptuous looking panettone.

Anonymous said...

Terri...your Panettone looks really nice!!! It seems like our Italian Panettone!!
Thank you for mentioning me in your post!
I reply to your question: we usually cut our Panettone with a knife, in the same way you cut a cake.
Many compliments! I'm really impressed with how good you are at cooking/baking!!

terri@adailyobsession said...

mg:i still have raisins soaking in rum so maybe i'll make another soon..

ccc: it isn't complicated, just tt i didn't have the parchment cases or the right pan for the bread. i am SURE you can do it. even better than me.

runningbrook: pls make it but make sure you have the right pan or panettone parchment cases. tell me how it turned out!

laubao: i am honored tt you think the panettone is good enough for you! oh, cut it with a knife eh. ok, i'll do tt next time!

the lunch guy said...

OBSESSIVE (comes to mind)

a : tending to cause obsession b : excessive often to an unreasonable degree


: of, relating to, or characterized by obsession : deriving from obsession

but that's a good thing!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

lunchguy: lol. i bet you are also obsessive as far as cooking is concerned:D

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri
Can you confirm whether it is plain flour or bread flour for the panettone?

Gonna give this a try.
Thanks for sharing the recipe.
warm regards

Anonymous said...

Omg this panettone is orrible! In italy this is not a panettone ahah
Never do it but always buy it because the process is really long! The best panettone here in Italy is "bauli"

Cornelius said...

Are you sure about the time/temperature combination? 1.5 hours at 180 degrees C.? I took the first one out of the oven at 1 hour and it was too dry. I'm thinking 30-45 minutes makes more sense

cyrex said...


Anonymous said...

hi Terri

I'm a glutton for punishment, done 2 recipes recently, both dry. I am ready to try your version. In your recipe you refer to T, is that tablespoon or teaspoon, please. Respond fast, xmas is 5 days away. Thanks. Marylyn

Amanda Rino said...

Hi Terri, I am wondering what I'm doing wrong. I've followed your recipe and I'm in the 15th hour of the first proof and the dough is hardly risen at all. Did you activate the yeast before mixing it in? I was under the impression that you put the yeast in dry, mixed it with the flour, etc, and then added the egg mixture to that...my yeast is active (I tested it separately). I'm thinking about starting over but don't want the same thing to happen again. Thanks!

Artirus said...

I just want to double check the recipe nomenclature: T is spoon and the little t is teaspoon?

Yuliana said...

I'm not sure what I did wrong.
The dough won't achieve the window pan state after mixing for 10 min.
And now it won't poof up for the 2nd rise.

Mel said...

Does it work with little ones?

Christina said...

Ok, my dough is on it's first proofing. I think I over-honeyed, but I'm hoping it will still be ok. I, too, have a true love affair with panettone.

I also proofed the yeast with a bit of water and 1/2 tsp of sugar before adding. Thoughts on if this was a good or bad idea? Kinda did it out of habit.

Lynda said...

Just took my 2nd attempt out of the oven....first one cooked too quickly, looked really overdone on the outside, I ended up cutting the cooking time/temp down, still came out like a heavy fruit cake :/
2nd one is still cooking too quickly on the outside, turned it down to 150c for half the time, still took it out of the oven at 1hr20 max, still can't get it to hang it's too heavy.....really overcooked on the outside again, and though I haven't tried it yet it still looks like an overdone fruitcake :(
I love baking and I love Pannetone, but I'm getting very despondent.

Christine said...

Just pulled this out of the oven 40min earlier then the recipe called for. But I I'd use a bunt pan and I'm thinking that because of the hole in the bunt pan the surface area is greater so it cooked quicker. Judging by the tastes I snuck off the topic the panettone this is a winner well worth the time invested

Anonymous said...

I am trying this now. I am surprised that this is using all-purpose flour rather than bread flour. Can you confirm that what I am reading is correct?

Sally said...

Hi Terri,

I am not sure I understand your instruction in the recipe: 10 T or about 170 gm (original recipe was 10 1/2 T) unsalted softened butter/1 T melted/1/2 T chilled

Does this mean a total of 10 1/2 tablespoons of butter or 10 + 1 + 1/2 ?

Can't wait to try this!

Julia said...

Very pleased with the outcome, the recipe is shorter than standard Italian ones but it tasted great and was very moist. Really enjoyed making this panettone. Easy to follow, looked and smelled amazing when it came out of the oven. Definitely will try once more.

Unknown said...

Hello, can anyone explain me what is "T" in the list of ingredients, please? Thanks a lot!!

Brit said...

What is T? THANK YOU!

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