The Panettone Adventures

OK, so if you know me, you will know that I absolutely adore panettone, somewhat curiously considering I hate mixed peel and raisins don’t do much for me. That said, the textural pleasure of a huge piece of panettone, the light tear of the bread, the juicy raisins and the dense peel is about as close to my Christmas in a food as I can get. (My boxing day centrepiece was Nigella’s gorgeous panettone cake pudding.) Now that Christmas has turned it’s head for the next 300+ days, panettone will be with me to remind me of the glorious season.

That said, the panettone in question has a worryingly short season so I have made several attempts to recreate one at home. I even went an hour to Lakeland just for the TIN. (On a side note, why aren’t there more Lakeland stores in Central London? Lakeland bosses, take heed.) I was undeniably intrigued by Dan Lepard’s recipe, which refrained from any kneading whatsoever, certainly an attractive prospect. I may have done something wrong however, as the resultant panettone was dense, mealy and ahem, doorstop-esque. I stupidly forgot to take pictures, but needless to say I was disappointed by the results. Next!

Enter Paul Hollywood. I was curious of his recipe as it contained no mixed peel, vanilla or citrus zest in the dough and had to be proved overnight (basically a fruited brioche). In an act of wilful non-conformity, I added in the said panettone flavourings and hoped for the best. I have adapted his recipe to suit my purist tastes but the texture is pleasurable and the flavours really do add a delicious, authentic taste. The overnight proof gives it an almost sourdough taste, but in all the right ways I promise.

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Panettone (adapted from Paul Hollywood)

500g strong white flour
7g salt
75g caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets instant yeast
140ml lukewarm milk
6 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
250g butter, softened
225g raisins
100g mixed peel (optional)
1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk, vanilla, citrus zests and 5 of the eggs into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.
2. Mix slowly for two minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 6-8 minutes until you have a soft dough.
3. Add the softened butter and mix for another 5-8 minutes. Remember to scrape down the bowl periodically to ensure that the dough mixes well. It will be very soft.
4. Add the dried fruit and peel. Mix until all is incorporated.
5. Tip the dough into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill overnight until the dough has firmed up enough for you to able to shape it.
6. Prepare a 18cm/7in panettone tin by brushing the inside generously with melted butter.
7. Remove the panettone dough from the fridge. Knock back the dough, shape into a ball and place into the tin.
Leave to prove in a warm place for a further 2-3 hours, until the dough just starts to dome over the top of the tin.
8. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Brush the top of the panettone with the remaining egg, beaten and bake for about 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and bake for a further 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Check the panettone periodically in case of oven hot spots. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough could brown too much before it is actually fully baked.
9. Remove the panettone from the tin immediately and allow to cool.
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