Panettone - tricky but reliable
Another recipe from our resident expert, Vanessa Kimbell. Vanessa has come up with an exhaustively tested recipe that although quite challenging is an achievable version of panettone that you will love to eat and impress your friends and family. You can get all the ingredients and the panettone cases needed (except for the basic larder ingredients) in our BakeryBits Panettone Kit. If you need a sourdough starter, then add our San Francisco starter.
Prep time: one hour
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
Preheat oven to 175ºC Gas 4
- 175g sourdough starter (1:1)
- 150ml milk
- 4 medium eggs
- 3 level tsp aroma panettone ( please note that this is a strong flavour blend so feel fee to reduce if you want)
- 10g osmotolerant yeast
- 650g type "0" manitoba flour or type "00" Soffiata flour
- 175g caster sugar
- 260g candied rainbow peel
- 240g room temperature butter, cut into 1cm cubes
- 50g pearl sugar
Panettone is tricky. I was chatting to chef Carlo Cracco in Milan last week, who is regarded by many as the perhaps the most supreme exponent of Italian Cuisine, about developing a practical and yet authentic panettone recipe for home bakers - he laughed out loud exclaiming that even he didn’t make his own as they are so notoriously difficult to get right.
Fortunately I am not easily dissuaded from a challenge and this recipe is not just straight forward, but has the right texture I expect from a real Italian panettone. This recipe uses sourdough alongside osmotolerant yeast. The sourdough gives extra texture and flavour, whilst the yeast guarantees a good even rise of the dough, which is based on the principle of a traditional French Brioche. It’s light beautifully textured dough with plenty of flavour.
The trick to good baking is often about using the right kind of flour for the right cake or bread and for panettone you need a high gluten flour. Manitoba flour is ideal as it has a very high protein content obtained by milling and processing varieties (cultivar) of wheat grown in North America, giving a great texture and robust dough. Similarly, Mulino Marino "00" Soffiata can be used for this recipe as also a very strong flour, and is excellent in bread too.
The name Manitoba derives from the Aboriginal people of the Canadian region of Manitoba. This flour has the special characteristic of forming a very high quantity of gluten during the kneading and cooking of bread. In Italy, Manitoba flours are often mixed in with Italian-produced flours in order to obtain a specific strength of dough - this blending process is carried out directly in the mills but this pure Manitoba type "0" is 100% pure and is perfect for getting really fabulous results for your panettone.
If you don't have a sourdough starter ready, use the BakeryBits starter, a few days ahead of time, to make up 175g for this recipe (not forgetting to put some into your fridge for your next bake).
Add the sourdough starter, milk eggs, aroma panettone, flour, yeast and caster sugar into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer. It may seem like quite a large amount of the panettone oil but some flavour disperses in baking.
Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on to the highest setting and beat. You need to do this for at least fifteen minutes perhaps even twenty: don’t be tempted to turn the mixer off sooner as this dough needs this amount of heavy mixing to activate the gluten.
After a good quarter of an hour, drop the butter cubes in to the bowl while still mixing. Cutting the butter into cubes will help its dispersal into the cake mixture. Mix for a further five-ten more minutes ensuring that the butter is evenly dispersed and the dough becomes silkier in texture.
When it's nearly ready the sound of the mixing changes from a general mix to a more rhythmic mix as the dough becomes elastic and it sticks together. You should see that the dough comes away from the edges of the bowl. The end result should be silky and stretchy. When you pull the paddle up you should be able to look through sections, like oval window panes through the dough. Add the rainbow peel and mix for another minute.
Place the paper panettone case on a baking tray and divide the dough, putting 1kg in the large case the remaining 500g in the smaller case. It will only fill up to about a third so don't worry if it looks a bit meagre. It will rise by another third in the proving, and a final third in the baking.
If your kitchen is at an ambient temperature prove for three hours on a baking tray. If your kitchen is cold, leave for an extra thirty minutes (The dough needs to double in size).
About 30 minutes before the dough finishes proving preheat your oven to 175°C / gas mark 4. When the dough is proved, sprinkle the pearl sugar over the top, before transferring the panettone on a baking tray into the preheated oven placing the smaller panettone at the from to the oven as it will come out a few minutes before the larger one. Cook for 40 – 45 minutes. Check the smaller cake by inserting a skewer to check for doneness; if it comes out with dough still sticking to it leave the panettone in for a bit longer. Repeat with the large one, and bake for and extra 10 minutes or so until cooked.
For enriched doughs where the sugar content is over 5%, the action of the yeast can be inhibited. Using osmotolerant yeast overcomes this, which will give you a much better rise than ordinary yeasts as it is specifically developed for enriched dough. This also applies to dough with a high ratio of spice or fat. Keep the remainder of the pack sealed in a bag and in your fridge for several months.
Gas ovens can be fierce and too hot an oven will melt the sugar and burn the top of the bread so add a piece of foil if the panettone if looks as though it might catch and burn before it is cooked lightly resting over the top part (especially for the smaller of the two cakes).
I favour the Kenwood chef simply because it has a large mixing bowl that aerates the dough well and a high-powered engine. Some smaller stand mixers cannot cope with the demands of this length of mix and quantity.
Vanessa runs baking courses throughout the year, check her website for the latest details.