Thursday, December 5, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Treats Day 4: Panettone

     My husband and I, like many people, aren't the biggest fans of fruitcake.  A few years ago, we bought a panettone at Costco one Christmas.  It was the yummiest white bread we ever had with a tiny bit of dried fruit.  The heavenliest, softest, perfectest fruit cake ever invented for infinity.  Cut a piece off, put it in the toaster and slap a little butter on it.  Best breakfast in the entire world.  It never even occurred to me to make my own until I saw panettone papers in a specialty shop.  The angels above opened their heavenly throats and warbled a melodious tune.  Or maybe that was me singing to myself in the baking row.  Only the security cameras can tell for sure.  I found this delicious recipe for panettone on King Arthur Flour.  I modified the fruit amounts somewhat and have adjusted the cooking time to make some mini panettones for sharing!  This recipe uses a biga, which is a quick, overnight starter culture, it helps develop the flavor of a good dough.  Trust me, the extra time is worth it.

Mini Panettone
Yield: 8

Biga (Overnight Starter)
3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/16 teaspoon yeast (just a pinch)
1/3 cup water

all of the biga 

2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup warm water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp orange extract
1/8 tsp lemon extract
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast OR 1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup chopped dried pineapple
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
The Biga: Combine the biga ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours).

Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and mix and knead them together—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till 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.

Divide dough into 8 mini panettone cups.  Place cups on a baking sheet and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise till it's just crested over the rims of the cups.  (It took mine three hours, but it could take much less time if your house is warmer than mine...)

Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 5 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 5 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 10-15 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely.  You'll know they're done when you thump the bottom and it sounds hollow.

This is great with mulled orange juice or a cup of coffee.  My kids aren't big fans, so this might be a more adult recipe.  I don't know about you, but I'm OK with that.


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