Panettone is a slightly sweet Italian bread, studded with fruit, that's common over the festive season, both for gifting and serving guests. It has a lovely gently citrus flavor and light texture - so easy to enjoy.
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I had panettone on my list to make for quite a while before it actually happened. You see, I was given a panettone pan for Christmas last year and have been plotting using it ever since. To be honest, I could probably eat panettone any time of year.
In fact, when I lived in London I kind of did as there was a cafe I sometimes went to that sold mini ones so I couldn't resist now and then as I got my coffee. However I know for many people they are more associated with this time of year so I held off. Plus, to be honest, I just didn't get round to it.
What is panettone?
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread, originally from the Milan area, typically eaten over Christmas and New Year. The dough is light and a little like a sweetened sourdough with bits of dried fruit spread throughout. It's typically round and tall and served as tall, thin slices.
These days it is popular in other areas as well, and you get variations in Latin America due to immigrants recreating their beloved treat. You can find more on the history here.
I remember seeing rows of bright red boxes full of panettone in the run up to Christmas that were always so tempting, although it's the small individual ones, as I say, that tended to tempt me more often.
Having been given one of the traditional tall pans, though, it was only a matter of time until I made one. I debated quite what to put in it, since traditionally it's candied peel and raisins, maybe with a few other things, but I decided to go for a little more varied.
I've used a mix of cranberries, golden raisins/sultanas and either candied peel or dried papaya. If you're regular here, you might remember I sometimes use papaya instead of candied peel, as in my Christmas pudding, as it can be hard to find here.
Even if I do find it during the short season it's available, it is often loaded with food coloring etc so not that great. If you can make it yourself, it really does make a huge difference. So, to me, that would be first choice followed by dried papaya.
How to make panettone
As with many traditional recipes, there is more than one way to make this bread. More traditionally, it is made with either a sourdough starter or a 'biga' which is very similar. These do, of course, require a few days preparation.
This version is a speeded up and slightly easier style, being more like a typical bread with two rises. It's an enriched dough, using both eggs and butter in the dough. While some add the butter later, as you would with brioche, here I've started more cake-like, by creaming the butter and sugar.
- First let the yeast bubble up while you mix together the other ingredients.
- Mix everything together then knead a little before leaving it to rise.
- Knock back the dough, add the fruit then leave to rise again, this time in the pan.
- After the second rise, bake until golden.
Make sure you let it cool fairly well before cutting or you can make the middle a bit gooey, as I did - it still tastes fine but the clumps don't look quite as good.
Panettone is something I have fond memories of, and making it myself brings them all flooding back. But it's something I think so many people would love, and it's perfect to share. So get baking, and sharing this delicious sweet bread.
Try these other international Christmas treats:
- Dried plum stollen (German Christmas bread)
- Lighter Christmas pudding (British Christmas dessert)
- Brunkaker (Danish spiced Christmas cookies)
- Kolachy cookies (a cookie made with cream cheese and filled with jam)
- Plus get more Holiday recipes in the archives.
For the basic dough
- ½ cup milk 120ml, warm
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon instant yeast a little under 2 x ¼oz/7g sachets
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter 85g
- ⅓ cup sugar 70g
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 lemon zest ie from 1 lemon
- 1 orange zest ie from 1 orange
- 3 cups all purpose flour 420g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the additions
- ½ cup dried cranberries 80g
- ½ cup golden raisins 70g sultanas
- 3 tablespoon dark rum or brandy, marsala wine
- ½ cup dried papaya 100g, or good quality candied peel (not artificially colored kind)
Making the dough/1st rise
- Put the warm milk in a small bowl and stir in the 1tsp sugar. Sprinkle over the yeast and leave for around 5min in a draft-free spot while you prepare the rest.
- Beat together the butter and sugar until slightly glossy (can use a stand mixer, food processor or handheld mixer). Add the eggs one at a time to combine, along with the vanilla. Mix in the lemon and orange zest. Add the flour a cup at a time and mix to combine, adding the yeast mixture and salt as well with 1st or 2nd cup.
- Bring the dough together and remove from mixer/bowl. Put onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes to stretch it out. Add a little extra flour as you go, if needed - it should be soft but not too sticky.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, put the dough in and cover with a cloth or loose cling wrap/film. Put the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for around 2 hours until doubled in size.
While dough is rising
- While the dough is rising, put the cranberries and raisins in a small pan with the rum, warm over a medium heat and simmer for around 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Finely chop the dried papaya.
- Also prepare the pan - either use a panettone pan or a large cake tin. For a panettone pan, line the sides with parchment and cut a circle for the base. I suggest cutting a piece slightly taller than the pan, fold over a slight edge and snip into the paper up to the fold to give you little 'feet' to keep the paper in place and go under the circle so there's some overlap (see photo above). For a cake tin, you'll also need to tie some brown paper/doubled-over parchment around the outside of the pan to build it up a bit higher.
Finishing dough/2nd rise
- After the dough has risen, gently knock back the dough (press out the air a bit) and incorporate the cranberries, raisins and papaya. I find it easiest to press out the dough a bit, put the fruit on top then roll up the dough. Then knead the dough to spread the fruit evenly.
- Put the dough into the prepared pan, cover and leave to rise for around 1 - 1 ½ hours until it is at least double the size (it may be to the top of your pan, depending on the size of your pan).
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Place the pan in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes until golden brown. You can test it by tapping the bottom (out of the tin) and it should be hollow, or you can put a metal skewer in the middle and it may well be moist but not sticky. Leave to cool on a baking rack.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
See all the other recipes being shared for today's final Cranberry Week post - we hope you've enjoyed following along and will try some of the many cranberry creations!
- Cranberry Bliss Bars (Starbucks Copycat) from Family Around The Table
- Cranberry Clementine Gin from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Cranberry Clusters by The Freshman Cook
- Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars from Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Cranberry Jello Salad from House of Nash Eats
- Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark from Books n' Cooks
- You Make Me Blush Cocktail by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Warm Cranberry Punch from Everyday Eileen