Friday, April 8, 2011

The Long Journey to Homemade Panettone

My dad is obsessed with panettone.  It is usually sold in stores around the holidays, and he will buy and use up an entire cake.  I decided that this year, I was going to make my own!  This started with first buying the panettone molds, easy to find on amazon.  Next, I had to find the right recipe.  I found a few that sounded promising, and saw that they all included candied orange peel or candied citron.  Well this is where I started having problems.  I searched everywhere, in grocery stores, specialty stores, online - could not find it anywhere.  So I decided, okay, I'm just going to make my own!  I made candied orange peel that was delicious in the panettone, and was also delicious dipped in dark chocolate and served at a party!

The panettone itself turned out really well.  The "cool rise" method wasn't so successful for me, but it started to rise once I brought it to a warmer place in the house.  I wouldn't recommend adding the butter into the top of the dough before baking - it just made the center gooey and didn't allow it to bake.  I used a large panettone mold, 6.75 inches across, and it fit the entire recipe perfectly.

And the leftovers made amazing french toast :)

Recipe: Panettone (from Andrea's Recipes)
1 cup raisins
2 tbsp light rum
2 tbsp hot water
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp honey
12 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (10 1/2 tbsp softened and cut into cubes, 1 tbsp melted, 1 tbsp chilled)
2/3 cup candied orange peel (recipe below)

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum and 2 tbsp water, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 8 hours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon zest, and vanilla bean at low speed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2/3 cup water and honey.

With the mixer on low, pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing.

Add the softened butter, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing completely before adding more.  Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Drain the raisins and discard the liquid.  Stir the raisins together with the candied orange peel and the melted butter.  Stir into the dough with a wooden spoon.

Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cold oven 12-15 hours, or until the dough is nearly tripled in volume.  (Alternately, let rise in a warm spot.)

Discard the vanilla bean (you may have to do some digging to find it).  Rub your hands with flour, sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, and turn out onto a well floured board.  Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough.

Fold the edges into the dough and place the dough seam side down in the panettone mold.  Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a draft-free place at room temperature until the dough is just above the top of the mold, ~3-5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F and place a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Place the dough in the mold on a baking sheet.  Slash a cross on the top of the dough, and put the chilled butter in the X (I wouldn't recommend doing this).

Bake about 1-1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with some moist crumbs.  The top will be dark, but not burned.

Recipe: Candied Orange Peels (from Mama's Minutia)
Peels from 5-6 thick-skinned oranges
4 cups sugar
3 cups water

Wash the oranges and cut the ends off.  Score the orange into 4 sections, and carefully peel each section of rind off.  Slice the rind into sticks about 1/4 inches wide.

Put the sliced orange rinds in a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, then dump the contents in a strainer, discarding the water.  Rinse off rinds with cold water.  Repeat this process 2-3 more times.

Pour the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a full boil.  Add the blanched orange rinds and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the pith becomes translucent.

Remove the rinds from the syrup, and lay the rinds out on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Let the orange slices dry by either sitting out at room temperature (I would only recommend this in cooler months, otherwise fruit flies will go crazy), or by putting them in an oven set on "warm" for a couple of hours.
The orange slices can then be used as is, for snacking or in recipes, or can be dipped in chocolate.  The orange syrup can be used in drinks.

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