Introduction: Delicious and Festive Panettone Bread

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There's something so delicious and festive about the puffed dome of Panettone bread. This traditional Italian holiday favorite is made with a sweet yeasted dough that is perfumed with orange flower water, and studded with golden raisins and candied orange peels.
Wouldn’t it be nice to give a loaf of this freshly made luxurious bread as a holiday gift to those sweet ones in our lives?

There are a couple of very helpful tools and supplies you may need.
1. an electric mixer- like Kitchen Aid. I love the fun of kneading by hand, but this special dough has so much butter and eggs in it, which weakens the structure of the gluten. Like all artisan breads, the beauty of the crumb which could be pulled away in a long strip is what elevates a Panettone into a form of art. An electric mixer can really help to develop the gluten structure. If you want to knead the dough by hand, the end result would still taste good, but the crumb might be more cake-like.
2. paper panettone baking molds.
The recipe here makes (2) 1lb loaves in 5” dia molds, which can be found on Amazon.
If you want to make one twice the volume, this other mold holds a 2lb dough –
3.  12” bamboo skewers. We use them to hang the panettones upside down when they come out of the oven, so they form a nice dome on top.
4. Sheet pans to place the baking molds in.

• For the sponge (will explain what a spong is later)
o 218g (2 cups)all-purpose flour
o 1g (1/3 teaspoon) instant dry yeast
o 135g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)water, at room temperature

• For the final dough
o 146g (1 ¼ cup) all-purpose flour
o 7g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
o 4g (1 1/3 teaspoon) instant dry yeast
o 45g (3 tablespoons) water, at room temperature
o 7g (1/2 tablespoon) orange flower water (sub 1 tsp grated orange zest if not available)
o 36g (2 tablespoons) honey
o 2 vanilla beans, split / or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
o 4 medium egg yolks, room temperature
o 73g (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar
o 75g (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut to 1” pieces
o 1/2 cups chopped candied orange peel
o 1/3 cups golden raisins
o 1/3 cups black raisins

Step 1: Make the Sponge

 A sponge is pre-fermented dough that will add depth of aroma and improve the final bread dough structure.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together yeast, flour, orange flower water and water. Fit mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix at low speed to combine. Continue mixing at medium speed 2 to 3 minutes more, and here’s our sponge!

Step 2: Let Sponge Rest & Rise

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place (65-80 degrees) until doubled to tripled in size, about 12-15 hours.

Here’s a tip on planning. If you make the sponge around 8:00 p.m. the night before, then you will be making the final dough next morning between 8:00 a.m. and 11 a.m. Just keep in mind to plan your day accordingly. =)

Step 3: Make Final Dough

Add flour, water, yeast, salt, honey, vanilla to the sponge in the mixing bowl, again with the dough hook attachment.  Mix at low speed until well combined, then at medium-high speed(speed 6 on Kitchen Aid) about 3-4 minutes.

Step 4:

 Next, add egg yolks and sugar to the dough.  Mix at low speed until well combined, then at medium-high speed(speed 6 on Kitchen Aid) about 3-4 minutes.

Step 5:

Increase mixer speed to 7 and add butter mixture gradually, mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing at high speed 7 until dough is smooth and silky, about 2-3 minutes.

Step 6: Gluten Windowpane Test

Now we are going to do a little test that the pros do =) Gluten development is tested with the “windowpane test.” Pinch off about two tablespoons of dough and try to stretch it into a thin membrane (windowpane).If you can do so without tearing, but the membrane is mostly opaque, you have barely developed gluten. Mix another minute, but don’t overmix.  If you can stretch a paper-thin, translucent windowpane, the gluten is fully developed.

Step 7: Add Candied Orange Peels and Raisins

Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a floured work surface. Knead in candied orange peels and raisins. Form dough into a round, cover with plastic wrap and let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

Step 8: Stretch and Fold the Dough

 Stretch and fold the dough 4 times in 4 directions, see picture. If the dough is too sticky, dust some flour as you work. Form dough again into a round, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for another 30 minutes at room temperature.

Step 9: Divide the Dough

Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Form each part into a nice round, and transfer each piece of dough to a 5 1/4-by-3 3/4-inch panettone paper mold. Loosely cover each piece of dough with oiled (important!) plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until dome of the dough just reaches the top of the mold (the dough won’t stick to the oiled plastic). Depending on the room temperature, it can take 3 to 4 hours.

Step 10: Bake!

Finally it’s baking time! Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use a sharp knife and score a ‘X’ mark over the top of each panettone. Place a smalle piece of butter on the center of the ‘X’ mark. This will help the bread rise and give the top a nice golden brown color. Place panettone on a baking sheet and transfer to oven; bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 11:

Remove panettone from baking sheet. Insert one or two 12-inch bamboo skewers through the bottom half of each panettone and suspend each upside down between two buckets or boxes for 2-3 hours till they are cool before serving, or 6+ hours before putting it in your nice gift package.

It’s hard to wait I know! But this step will ensure a beautiful dome and nice open crumb structures.

Enjoy and happy holidays! =)

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