Panettone: Italian Christmas Bread

Panettone is a traditional Italian Christmas bread. It is a sweet bread with dried fruit mixed in. Typically, it has citron, currents, and raisins in the dough but my Mom hates citron and we did not have currents so I added dates and raisins to the panettone. The dough is very light and brioche like with a slight sweetness. It is often found in beautifully decorated boxes around Christmas time in Italian Supermarkets. Do not confuse it with fruit cake, it is very different.

Italian Christmas Bread

Every Christmas, my Mom and Grandma had Panettone around. As a child I never liked it because it was not sweet enough but as I have grown up I have developed an appreciation for it. My Mom mentioned that we needed to buy a Panettone for Christmas. Instead of taking the easy way out I decided to make it. After doing lots of research about how Panettone is made, I found that it is quite a procedure. Traditionally, after Panettone is baked it is hung upside down to cool. Having a kitten and a monster cat around the house made hanging bread upside down a bit of a challenge. I kept looking and found a wonderful, easier recipe for this delicious bread.

Panettone

(10 servings) Adapted from about.com

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. Cover and let stand 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well.

2.   Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough forms into a manageable ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10         minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky. (May need up to 5 cups flour.) Place dough in a large, lightly pan-sprayed bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Dough Before First Rise

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and spray a round 8-inch cake pan with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, toss dried fruit with confectioners’ sugar. Punch down dough in bowl, transfer to floured surface, and knead in the fruit.

Dough after 2nd rise in cake pan

4.   Form dough into a ball, place in prepared cake pan, cover loosely with dish towel, and let rise 30 minutes. (Loaf will rise above the pan sides.) Brush with melted butter, if desired. Bake for 45 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Beautiful Bread

Buon Natale!

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3 thoughts on “Panettone: Italian Christmas Bread

  1. If it’s possible to imagine, it tastes even better than it looks! Thanks for baking this amazing treat, Elizabeth–it has sustained me through those busy mornings before Christmas!

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