Italian Holiday Panettone
If you have spent Christmas or New Year’s eve in Latin America and Europe, especially in Italy, you probably already know what Panettone is. It is a sweet yeasted bread that originated from Milan and is often served during the yuletide season. Over the years, it has made its way to places like Australia, Canada, the United States, as well as the United Kingdom. In fact, in South America, this delicious dessert became one of the most important traditions.
So what is Pannetone? What is it made up of? Well, this sweet yeasted bread is actually a brioche dough filled with some nuts and dried fruits. It is baked in round paper molds, giving it its cupola shape. This ‘cake’ also has distinct fluffy characteristics.
Panettone has variations. Some are plain, while others come with chocolate. Some only have raisins in them, while some have colorful fillings. But either way, this treat is usually served in wedge shapes (vertically cut). Sometimes, it is eaten with crema di mascarpone or dried and candied fruits. It is best consumed with sweet wine or hot beverages. In Latin America, it is enjoyed during Christmas eve with hot chocolate.
With this Homemade Italian Panettone, you can certainly make your Christmas and New Year’s Eve extra special. It’s dotted with raisins, pecans, and dried cherries, making it a lot richer and more delicious.
2 1/4 c. flour (divided)
2/3 c. water
1 tbsp. instant yeast (divided)
2 tbsp. apricot jam
12 tbsp. softened butter (divided)
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla (good-quality)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. lemon extract
3/4 tsp. orange extract
2 tbsp. honey
1 c. confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
2 tbsp. milk
pinch of salt
1/2 c. dried cherries (finely chopped)
1/2 c. pecans (finely chopped)
1/2 c. golden raisins (finely chopped)
- Sponge: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of apricot jam, and 1 teaspoon of yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 3 hours, preferably in a warm place.
- Dough: Add the sponge, 1/4 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of flour, and 1 teaspoon of yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the hook attachment, knead the dough for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it becomes smooth and stretchy. Add 3 egg yolks (one at a time) and continue to knead until the mixture gets shiny as well.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place for about 2 hours. This should be enough time for it to rise and double in size.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, return it to the mixer. Add vanilla, lemon, and orange extracts as well as salt, honey, and 1 teaspoon of yeast, and then knead for a minute.
- Add 3 yolks and knead until incorporated. Add the 12 tablespoons of softened butter but do it 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead for about 5 minutes.
- Combine the chopped pecans, raisins, and cherries with 2 tablespoons of flour, and then add the mixture to the dough. Knead briefly.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and store it in the fridge overnight.
- Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball. Put it in a Panettone mold (6 inches in diameter). Using a pair of scissors, create a cross on top of the dough.
- Allow the dough to rise and triple in size. Place it in a warm place.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake the Panettone for about an hour or until it has risen like a muffin. Let cool.
- Drizzle icing and serve.
Making the icing:
Mix 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 cup powdered sugar. Add a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is achieved.
If you do not have a Panettone mold, you can make use of a coffee can. Just make sure that it is clean and buttered. Line it with parchment paper as well.
The icing is actually optional. You can serve the Panettone as is. Simply cut it vertically in wedge shapes. But if you want more sweetness to it and, of course, for a more appealing look, then drizzling icing is definitely a plus. 🙂