There are many foods that make it feel like Christmas – Turkey, Brussel Sprouts, Fruit Cake, Mince Pies… but one that always signifies Christmas has arrived, for me, is the Italian sweet bread called Panettone. It’s very similar to the French classic, Brioche, in that it’s enriched with butter, eggs and sugar but it’s can also be found packed with fruit, nuts, or both. It takes a bit of time but, if properly stored, it keeps for a while due to the richness of the ingredients, and it can be boxed up and given as a wonderful, homemade gift.
- 500g Strong Bread Flour
- 50g Caster Sugar
- 14g Instant Yeast
- 250g Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 7g Salt
- 125ml Warm Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 5 Medium Eggs, plus 1 for an egg wash
- 150g Sultanas
- 150g Mixed Peel
- Zest of 1 Orange
- Zest of 1 Lemon
Add the flour, sugar, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs and milk into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, making sure to keep the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.
Mix on a slow speed for a couple of minutes, and then bring up to a medium speed for 6 minutes until you get a soft dough.
Now, keeping it on a medium speed, add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, and mix for a further 6 to 8 minutes. Be sure to scrape the sides of bowl down every now and again to make sure all the butter is combined.
Add in the dried fruit and mix well into the dough.
Place into a bowl, cover with cling film, and place into the fridge to prove for 6 - 8 hours, or preferably overnight.
Grease a 6inch/1lb Panettone tin well with melted butter, or line with greaseproof paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge, knock back the dough, shape into a ball and place in the tin.
Cover the tin with a light, clean, tea towel and leave to prove for 3 - 4 hours until the dough starts to come up to the top of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan)/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Brush the top of the Panettone with the egg wash, and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 160°C (140°C Fan)/320°F/Gas Mark 2 and bake for a further 30 minutes. When you reduce the temperature, if the Panetonne is looking brown, then cover it with some foil to stop it from browning further. Due to the sugar and eggs, it can brown too much before it's completely baked.
Once baked, remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.