Thursday, December 27, 2012

Daring to do it: Panettone

Ah, the holidays.  This is always a strange time of year.  As a Jew in a Christian cultured environment it is always an odd balancing act - how to acknowledge Christmas, even celebrate it with friends and family members, without losing my own celebrations at the same time.  I was lucky enough to grow up is a neighborhood filled with diverse cultures, so I feel like I got to learn a lot, and celebrate a lot, while still maintaining my own identity.  Every December the Daring Bakers are challenged to make something fairly Christmas-y, and this year was no exception.  But I have found that food is such a great teacher of culture that I kind of look forward to the opportunity to learn something new.

The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

Wow.  Panettone.  Kind of like an Italia fruitcake, but not at all.  I had, before this challenge, never seen a home made panettone.  And this coming from someone who grew up next door to off-the-boat Italians who cooked and baked everything.  All I knew of panettone was that it was the big tall, box with the big tall cake-type thing.  Thanks to the amazing and talented Marcellina, I got to learn what a panettone is all about and how to bake it at home. 
Marcellina gave us a fabulous recipe to work from, but she did allow for some leeway in fillings and such.  In somewhat of a departure for me, I stuck to her recipe except for two changes - this must be a record of fewest alterations by me!  Yay!  The original recipe calls for a lot of eggs and a lot of butter.  Like, seven eggs (ok, three of them are only yolks, but you need seven eggs) and one and a half cups of butter.  Yes, one and a half cups.  Three sticks.  For my first substitution I used (you guessed it) margarine instead of butter.  For my second change I decided two sticks (one cup) would be more than enough, and used a half cup of applesauce for the last part.  Other than that, I followed Marcellina's recipe (ok, I us different fried fruits in my filling, but that was encouraged!) and method, and was quite impressed.
There are a lot of steps here,and therefor a lot of pictures.  So from here I will try to let the pictures do the talking for me.
The sponge:
Turning the sponge into the first dough, with Little Girl's help:

Making the second dough (not the most interesting photo...):
The filling (for three of my four panettoni) - dried apricots, dried pineapple and dried blueberry flavored cranberries, tossed with flour and cinnamon (the fourth was filled with chocolate chips.  or course.):
The final dough, ready to be filled:
My home made, origami panettone molds, with parchment paper cuffs:
Filling and rolling:
Ready to rise:
Ready to bake:
These were so good.Rich, as you would expect with all of those eggs and butter substitutes but not heavy.  Beautiful to look at, even thought they didn't rise as much as I had hoped.  I think the molds were wider that tradition wold have had me use, so they spread out a bit instead of being forced up.  These were a hit.  I can totally see me making these again.  Adopting an Italian Christmas treat and turning it into a Jewish celebration food.  I love it!
Thank you so much, Marcellina!  This was a learning experience, and a lot of fun, too!!  And thank you to Lis, the Daringest of the Daring Kitchen-ers, for creating such a wonderful forum!
Please check out the beautiful creations made by my fellow Daring Bakers.  You won't be disappointed.
And happy holidays, no matter hat holidays they are!


  1. Your panettone turned out very well. I cut down on ingredients by halving the recipe to make just one panettone.

  2. Great job! Your panettone looks delicious!

  3. Your panettone looks delicious, great job on the challenge!

  4. Your panettone came out great! It looks like your molds were especially successful.

  5. love the origami molds! your bread turned out great :) congrats!

  6. Absolutely LOVE the origami cases - amazing! The finished panettoni look stunning - great job!