Tired of baking the yearly Christmas cookies for friends and family? Try this timeless classic instead. Panettone is soft and delicately delicious – just don’t dare call it fruit cake! This tall, round sweet bread originated in Italy and has become an essential part of the Christmas celebration. My mother used to make it a month in advance. She would wrap it tightly in parchment paper and let it sit in a cool place until it was ready to be opened and enjoyed at our Christmas Eve table. On Christmas Day we would toast slices in the oven to serve for breakfast with pats of butter on top!
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1 packet dry yeast
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water (110º F)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flour to make a very loose dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for at least four hours.
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/3 cup brandy, plus 1/4 cup for dough
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 4-5 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup chopped candied orange
- 1/3 cup chopped candied apricots
- 1/3 cup chopped candied cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Soak the raisins in 1/3 cup of brandy for about a half hour.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, water, vanilla and raisins (drained from the brandy). Combine the starter dough above with 1/4 cup brandy and the egg mixture. Mix well. Kneading the dough with your hands, gradually add the flour until the dough is soft and elastic. Place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about three hours.
Butter and flour a Panettone mold or other deep bread mold that is about 5 1/2″ tall and 8″ wide. On a lightly floured surface, gently punch the dough down to form a large rectangle. Sprinkle the candied fruits on top and fold the dough in half. Knead a little more so that the fruit becomes evenly distributed within the dough. Arrange the dough into the mold and cover again with plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 35 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350º. Make an ‘x’ cut on top of the Panettone and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for about 30 minutes before removing the bread from its mold. Cool completely before wrapping and enjoy!