Panettone for Maria Maffia
Maria was 94 when she passed away a few years ago and she loved panettone which I made for her during the holidays. To the end she retained her sense of humour and her kind, forgiving nature, and lived independently within very limited means but always with a deep enjoyment and zest for life and a generousity of spirit that made her a very special person. Few leave this earth as luckily as she did- dying instantly of a massive heart attack at NY Hospital while waiting for a test to be performed. So this is for Maria.
Recipe makes 4 panettones (7″ round and 5″ high) or 3 (8″ round) or 5 (8×4″) loaf pans. You can divide recipe in half. It has the requisite five rising periods (sponge, dough, fruited dough, shaped, oven spring) and its flavour development and ropey, light texture is due to the long risings, I do not recommend any shortcuts. It is best to use homemade candied peels (half orange and half lemon to make 3/4 lb). I’ve tasted many panettones across Italy and this is pretty close to the Milanese classic from Piave; it will taste far better than any supermarket version and well worth the two day effort.
4 c. tepid tap water
3 packets yeast (3/4 oz total) or 7 tsp. or one cake fresh yeast
2 lbs. bread flour (6 1/2 c.)
In a 5 qt. bowl dissolve the yeast in the water.
Beat in flour for 5 min. to form a soft ball.
Cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hrs. It will rise and fall.
3/4 lb. raisens (yellow or half yellow and half dark)
1/4 lb. each candied lemon, orange and citron peels or 3/4 lb. mixed peels 1/4″ dice
1/4 c. rum
Chop peels coarsely and combine with raisens and rum in a covered container and shake occasionally, marinate for 24 hrs. Fruit will absorb the rum and keep the bread moist.
12 eggyolks (1 c.) plus 2 whole eggs (1/4 c.)
3/4 c. evaporated milk (6 oz)
1 c. sugar (about a scant 1/2 lb.)
1/3 c. honey (5 oz)
2 tbsp. real vanilla extract
1 tbsp. each real lemon and orange extracts (or 2 tbsp. fiori de sicilia)
1 tbsp. each grated lemon and orange rind
2 more lbs. bread flour (6 1/2 c.)
4 tsp. salt
1 lb. unsalted butter
To the sponge add the eggyolks and eggs, milk, sugar, honey, extracts and grated zests. Beat for 5 min. until well combined.
Add flour and salt and beat until incorporated. Do not lessen amount of salt. Add 3/4 lb. of the butter and save 1/4 lb. for kneading. If the dough rides up the hook divide in half and knead for 8 minutes each by machine or 15 min. by hand until soft and elastic. It will still be sticky but shiny.
Let rest for 30 min. at room temp. to relax the dough so it will take the fruit.
Grease a large bowl and knead in remaining butter and fruit into dough until well distributed. Form into a ball, put into bowl, cover loosely with a large, clear plastic bag and let rise for 3-4 hours at room temp. My kitchen is about 60 F in the winter so refrigerate the dough if your kitchen is warmer. It will double in bulk in 3-4 1/2 hrs. You can also leave it overnight in the fridge at 45F. Do not freeze.
Prepare your molds. Acquire four 7×3″ round pans or buy 2.2 lb. size panettone paper molds. Line bottoms of metal pans with parchment paper; fold a long piece of parchment three times to make a 5″ band around the inside, secure with a piece of tape on the outside. Sounds complicated but it’s actually very easy to do. Brush with soft butter or corn oil. The band will help the bread to rise above the rim of the pan.
Punch down the dough and divide into 4 portions approximately 2 1/3 lb. each or 3 portions for 8″ pans or five portions for 8″ loaf pans.
Flatten into discs and pull edges under with your hands to form a ball. Drop into pans and level off by pressing down with fingers, for loaves form into cylinders. Molds will be less than half full.
Let stand at room temp about 70 F and allow to rise until 2 1/2 times the original volume. The loaves will be about 4 1/2-5″ high. It will take 3-4 hours. Check after 2 hours to see if they have almost reached the desired volume. Do not rush to bake or bread will be heavy.
If your oven can only bake 2 panettone at a time retard the growth of 2 pans, #3 and #4, by refrigerating for 1 hr. after shaping, then allow to rise at room temp. and bake after pans #1 and #2.
Preheat oven to 350 F. and lower rack to lowest setting. Place a small pan of hot water on the floor of the oven. Place pans of panettone on a cookie sheet, do not over crowd.
Cut a 4″ cross 1/4″ deep on top of round panettones with a single razor or serrated knife and pull back the quarters to make “ears”. Place a small pat of butter in the center. If you like you can brush gently with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar or blanched almonds. Do not jostle too much or it will deflate.
Bake one sheet at a time. After 20 minutes turn them halfway around and cover tops lightly with foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake another 20 min. for a total of 40-45 min or until tops sound hallow when tapped and panettone is deep brown.
Remove and cool panettone in pans, after 10 min. lay metal pans on its side to prevent the top from sinking and do not remove until completely cold. Or if using paper molds place 2 skewers horizontally through lower half of panettone, turn upside down in a stock pot to cool completely.
Wrap in paper, not plastic, will keep a week, toast stale panettone. Makes terrific french toast or bread pudding.
Makes four 2 1/4 lb. panettones (a couple of oz. of moisture will evaporate in the oven).
Try this recipe exactly as written, no substitutions, before you adjust it to your liking the next time around.
(Note from Marketman: Yowks! Even I have to set aside a calm day to give this a go! But doesn’t it sound delicious?)