Can You Bake a Luxurious Italian Panettone with Candied Fruit and Almonds?

March 26, 2024

Ah, the Panettone! This tall, dome-shaped bread is a staple of Italian Christmas festivities. Made from a rich, yeasted dough, Panettone is traditionally filled with candied fruit, raisins and lemon zest. But can you recreate this luxurious cake at home? Absolutely! Read on, as we guide you step by step through this delectable recipe.

Gathering Your Ingredients

Before you start the baking process, it’s essential to gather your ingredients. For your panettone, you will need:

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  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 2 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 75g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 200g sultanas
  • 50g finely chopped mixed candied peel
  • 50g chopped almonds

Having all your ingredients to hand not only saves time but also ensures a smooth, stress-free baking experience.

Preparing the Dough

The heart of your panettone is its dough. Start by mixing the flour, yeast, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle, then add the eggs, egg yolks and milk. Mix well. After a few minutes, the mixture will become a soft dough.

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Add the softened butter and the orange zest to your dough and keep mixing. Once your dough is glossy and elastic, you can add your sultanas, candied peel and chopped almonds. Your dough will need a good knead – put some elbow grease into it until it’s smooth, shiny and elastic, which should take about 10 minutes.

Cover your bowl with a damp cloth and leave it to rise for 2 hrs, or until doubled in size.

Shaping and Proofing the Dough

Once your dough has doubled in size, it’s time to shape and proof it. Knock back the dough by gently punching it in the bowl, then knead again until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone tin or a buttered and floured ovenproof dish.

Cover the dish with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size again. This process, known as proofing, will take approximately 1 hour.

Baking Your Panettone

After proofing the dough, the next step is to bake your panettone. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Cut a cross into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife, then bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

Check your bread after about 25 minutes – if it’s browning too quickly, cover it with some tin foil and return to the oven.

Final Thoughts on the Recipe

Creating your own Italian Christmas panettone can be a rewarding endeavor. Not only will you have a delicious centerpiece for your festive table, but the process of making the bread from scratch is a joy in itself.

Remember, baking is a science – be meticulous with your measurements and temperatures, and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning, delicious bread. If this is your first time baking a panettone, don’t stress if it’s not perfect. Practice makes perfect, and each time you bake, you’ll gain more expertise and confidence.

Enjoy the process, and happy baking!

Incorporating Candied Orange and Finalizing the Dough

The candied orange peel is a key component that lends the panettone its distinctive citrusy flavor. To incorporate it, start by finely chopping the candied orange peel. You can either purchase it ready-made or prepare it at home. If you decide to go with the latter, you will need to simmer the orange peel in a sugar syrup until it becomes translucent and then leave it to dry.

After you’ve prepared your candied orange peel, add it to the dough along with the rest of the fruits and nuts. Mix the dough on low speed using a dough hook until everything is evenly incorporated. Remember to scrap down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets mixed in.

Once you are satisfied with the distribution of the fruits and nuts in your dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place. This step is crucial as it allows the yeast to ferment, causing the dough to double in size. The ideal location is a spot that is free from draughts with a temperature of about 21-23°C (70-75°F).

Final Baking Tips and Tricks

Before placing your dough into the oven, ensure it has risen properly. A well-risen dough will yield a fluffy and light panettone. Before baking, give your dough an egg wash. This simple step involves brushing a beaten egg over the surface of the dough. It will give your panettone a glossy, golden finish.

Don’t forget to create a cross on top of your dough before baking. This opens a window for the bread to expand and prevents it from cracking on the sides. Bake your dough in a preheated oven as per the recipe instructions.

If you don’t own a traditional panettone mold, don’t fret! You can simply use a deep, round cake or springform pan. Line it with parchment paper and let the edges hang over the side. This will create the tall, dome shape that is characteristic of the panettone.

Conclusion

Embarking on the journey of making your own Italian Christmas panettone is an exciting adventure. The subtle aroma of the orange zest, the sweetness of the candied fruit, and the crunch of almonds create a harmony of flavors that is truly festive.

Following the panettone recipe meticulously, respecting the steps of letting the dough rise, and patiently waiting for the baking process to complete will reward you with a fabulous result. You’ll be left with a panettone bread that is not just a treat to the taste buds but also a feast for the eyes.

So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients and get ready to immerse yourself in the art of Italian baking. And remember, the joy of baking is not just about the end result, but also the process. Enjoy every moment of it, from the kneading of the dough to the heavenly aroma that fills your kitchen as the bread bakes. Happy baking!