Panettone is the ultimate Christmas bread. If you have had this, I am sure you will agree. I have never met anyone who dislike this bread. It is a very rich Orange scented bread full of rum soaked dried fruit (mostly raisins) and mixed peel. Moist soft crumb, and the citrus scent makes you want to go for more. Even though this is such a pleasure to eat, it may not be the case when it comes to making the panettone. Well if you wan to master the traditional recipe, then you’ll have to nail the stiff sourdough levain and mixing the dough to ‘window pane’. A seasoned baker can achieve this without much effort but it is however a time consuming process.
If you are a beginner to bread making and enriched doughs, try my beginner friendly version. It is less intimidating yet delivers exceptional results.
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Challenges for a home baker
- Unlike in bakeries, most homes don’t have state-of-the-art mixers.
- Most home bakers don’t have access to vital wheat gluten
- We may not have temperature and humidity controlled kitchens or proofers
But with work arounds and little modifications here and there we can still achieve the same results. This, is the main purpose of this blog post, to show you how I manage this process at home with everyday kitchen gadgets and a little bit of bakers intuition. Feel free to modify the process to fit to your environment and daily schedule.
I’m using a KitechAid artisan 5Qt mixer which is commonly available in many home kitchens. I will be using both the paddle and dough hook attachments to get the precise gluten development. The mixing time may vary but it will be as long as 40 minutes to one hour. You might need to stop and give the mixer time to cool down (if it heats up) and also chill the dough if dough temperature gets too high. But don’t worry, I will mention all this in the step by step process.
This recipe works best with high gluten flour or normal bread flour modified with added vital wheat gluten. It is available on some stores and online too. But, I used King Arthur bread flour (12.7% gluten) and added some Fairhavan Mill 00 pizza flour. 00 Pizza flour has a very fine granule and high gluten percentage. This helps speed up gluten formation. If you can’t find pizza flour, that’s fine, just bread flour only.
I did not use a proofing box anything special. I always went with my kitchen room temperature which is about 70F (around 68F at night) and always relied on looking at my dough rather than the clock. I will explain how to do this where necessary. If you wan to speed up proofing or bulking you can always use your oven with the light on or with a bowl of hot water in. This is specially beneficial when building up the starter/stiff levain.
What you will need
These are some of the equipment that you need to correctly execute this process. All of these can be bought online or be found in a kitchen shop.
- oven themometer
- probe themometer
- thermometer gun (very easy to measure temperature of the dough)
- plastic and metal bench scrapers
- panettone molds and skewers
Lets dive in to the process and see how this is done.
I am using a sweet stiff starter. This is what I use in all my enriched bread recipes. This is relatively easy to build and gives less sour taste and fast action when it comes to fermentation. You need to start with good active liquid starter and then build a strong stiff starter. This may take 3-4 feeding.
Building a stiff starter/levain
This is very simple. A stiff starter/levain is less hydrated than your normal liquid starter. I have a recipe on the recipe card below. So mix and knead everything until you get a tough dough ball. Leave this covered at 80°F (26°C) until doubled in size. Then take a small amount of this and create another dough (this is a feeding) and leave it to ferment just like before. When your stiff starter doubles in about 5 hours at 80°F (26°C) then it is ready to be used in the bread. This is just a guide line to gauge the starter strength, if your room temperature is very low, then it might take about 10 hours for the starter to double. You can still use it to make the panettone or place it in a proof box(if you have one) or in a warm area to speed up the process.
I will be using these small molds. This recipe creates about 1.2Kg of dough. This would fit
-three of these small ones W 4.33″ x H 3.35″
-one big mold W 7.5″ x H 4.5″
calculating dough weight for different mold sizes
There are various sizes of molds out there. I developed this recipe to fit a W-71/2 inch and H-41/2 inch mold. This recipe will produce a dough that weighs roughly 1.2 kg. If you have other sizes, here is the formula to know the dough size that fits each mold:
dough weight in grams = volume of the mold x 0.4 (or 0.37 for a shorter dome)
Volume = (Width in cm / 2 x Width in cm / 2) x 3.14 x Height in cm
a mold of W 5.1″ (13cm) x H 3.35″ (8.5cm) will need roughly 500g dough;
dough weight = (13/2 x 13/2) x 3.14 x 8.5 = 1,123 x 0.4 = 449g
a mold W 7.5″ (19cm) x H 4.5″ (11.5cm) will need roughly 1300g dough;
dough weight = (19/2 x 19/2) x 3.14 x 11.5 = 3259 x 0.4 = 1300g
Adding slightly more or less (about 50g) dough isn’t going to be a problem. If you like really domed top that looks like a mushroom adding slightly more dough will get you there. It is personal preference.
Here are the exact molds I am using for this recipe.
Prepare the dried fruit the day before.
If you are making your own Orange peel, you can do it several days ahead.
Soak the raisins in 1:1 water:rum overnight or 24 hours.
You can skip the Rum if you like and use some vanilla instead.
Mixing the First dough
Place flour, sugar and water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment. Add a little extra water if the mixture id too dry.
Then change to dough hook and add egg yolks a little at a time and mix to incorporate. Then break the stiff levain into chunks and add to the dough. Knead until incorporated. Now add soft butter a little at a time and mix until cleared.
Once everything is added, increase the speed to 2 and knead until you get a smooth silky dough. may take about 8-15 minutes. The dough should pass a ‘window pane’ test as shown in the pictuer.
Now this first dough is ready for the long fermentation. It should roughly triple it’s volume. The easiest way to tell this is to place the dough in a tall see through container, mark the level and let it ferment. If you don’t have such a container, you can place a little dough ball in a small jam jar/tall drinking glass and use that as the indicator. This may not be as accurate but it is close enough. check my pictures below.
The fermentation may take 10-12 hours at around 70°F. I just left these covered on the counter top over night.
I started mixing the first dough after dinner around 7 pm. That way I can leave it to ferment overnight. Next day around 8-9 am the dough was ready. You can give it another hour or two if it hasn’t risen (tripled).
mixing the second dough
gather all the ingredients for the second dough before you start mixing. Drain the raisins, pat dry and leave aside.
Butter should be very soft.
In this phase we add so much moisture to the dough and it will become so wet and loose almost like cake batter. So with a KitchenAid it is going to take a long time for the gluten development. It took me close to and hour (with rest to the mixer).
Total active mixing time around 35 minutes
Mixing the second dough
- start by placing the first dough + flour + honey in the mixing bowl. Mix using the dough hook until incorporated and a dough is developed
- Add 1/3 of the egg yolks and half the sugar, mix on medium until they disappear. If you want change to the paddle attachment
- Now add another 1/3 of the eggs and the rest of the sugar, mix until incorporated
- Now start adding butter a few pieces at a time and mix on low speed. take your time doing this, make sure butter is fully incorporated
- After all the butter is in add the rest of the egg yolks and mix
- Once everything is added, increase speed to 4 and start mixing using the paddle attachment
- check the dough temperature from time to time. If it is rising above 24°C (75°F), stop mixing and place the bowl in the fridge for 5 minutes
- If the mixer is getting too hot, you can let it cool down for 5-10 minutes (place an ice pack on the mixer to speed up cooling)
- After about 15-20 minutes of mixing, you will get a relatively stronger dough. It will start pull from the sides
- now is the time to swap to the dough hook attachment
- Keep kneading on medium (2) until you get a shiny, elastic dough. Scrape the bowl regularly. This may take from 15-20 minutes
- Once the dough passes ‘window pan’ test, it is time to add the fruit. Check images below
This is the second dough passing the window pane test. ‘Stretch the dough with wet hands and if it could be stretched so thin that you can almost see though the skin, then we can safely say that there is enough gluten development (strength)‘
The more strong the dough, the better rise you will get. It will also help create the airy, lose crumb structure. Too much gluten development, may cause big air pockets/wholes in the crumb.
Add the fruit and peel to this dough and mix on lowest speed until incorporated. You can alternatively mix by hand. Also performing several slap and folds will make sure the fruit is distributed evenly.
Once done let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered.
Give it a coil fold and leave to rest for another 30 minutes, covered.
Now you can divide the dough, if you are using small molds or leave it as a whole for a bigger mold.
leave the divided dough to rest for 15 minutes
Once the dough is rested, using a metal bench scraper, mold/shape the dough into a boule. Check the video to see how this is done. This will help create tension on the outer skin. Let these rest for another 15 minutes and repeat the process.
while the dough rests, prepare the molds by inserting skewers. Place them on a tray/sheet pan.
This bread is hung upside down as soon as it comes out of the oven. This is how the bread is going to cool for at least 4 hour (preferably overnight) or longer. If you don’t do this, delicate and soft crumb structure will collapse under it’s own weight. If the bread collapses the crumb will be dense and will not turn out as light as it should be. You can use either wooden or stainless steel skewers. I like to insert then prior to the dough goes in. That way I don’t have to risk deflating the bread trying to do this while the bread is very hot.
Once shaped, lift the dough piece using the scraper and your palm and place in the prepared mold.
Placing the molds on a sheet pan will make it easier to move them.
Leave them covered in a slightly warm place until the dough is proofed and reaches the top of the mold.
It may take 8-10 hours for them to finish proofing. Again, I left them covered in the oven (switched off) and placed a hot cup of water to create a warm moist environment.
When they are proofed, preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C) and have a rack placed at the lower 3rd of the oven.
Once the oven is ready, decorate the top and bake the panettone until the internal temperature reaches 200°F (93°C)
Decorating the top
Note: There are several ways to decorate the top.
– score a cross and place a knob of butter in the center
– egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar
– egg wash and sprinkle with almond flakes
– egg wash and decorate with blanched whole almonds
– glaze made using eggs and almond meal
– leave it plain is always an option too
When the panettone is done baking, remove them carefully from the oven and immediately tip them upside down and hang using the skewers until completely cooled. Always leave them to cool overnight (minimum 6 hours) before cutting into them.
Once they are cooled, decorate as you wish. These can be kept at room temperature for about 4-5 days.
Cover with plastic to stop them from drying out.