Finally, one thing to tick off the things to try out list. I first realised this is something that can be made at home when I read the entry in Wild Yeast. And now that I've been baking so much lately, I felt I was on a roll and started investigating how to go about this. Sadly time doesn't permit to follow Susan's recipe with Italian starter. But while scouring the web for panettone moulds, I came across this fabulous site.
Needless to say, there is no such thing as a panettone mould in the UK. I only found one and it was star shaped and more of a novelty size muffin, than a panettone. Oh, yes, of course, there's the industrial quantity of 12000 (twelve thousand!) disposable ones on a pallet. I would probably need to open up a bakery to be allowed to buy them though.
So, when I found the above fab recipe, not only did it have photos and very good instructions, it also recommended using coffee tins lined with baking parchment. Brilliant! I have only one coffee tin, left over from some 10 years ago, when I got it along with my espresso cooker. As Winnie-the-Pooh would say, it's particularly useful when empty.
The recipe called for three of those tins, but I didn't manage to find two more, so in the end I decided to use my variable size cake tin. So they are a bit on the squarish side. I divided the dough in 4 and in hindsight, that star shaped mould would probably have worked.
An electric whisk and a dough mixer of some sort is essential.
Anyway, let's get to the point. I made a few changes to the recipe as well to make it possible to make it, so to speak.
2.4 dl raisins
1.6 dl dark rum
1 dl lukewarm water
1 dl semi-skimmed milk
0.6 dl fresh yeast or 0.3 dl dry
3 large eggs
1.5 dl caster sugar
1.75 tsp salt
10 dl super strong flour
2.4 dl chopped nuts (I used coarsely ground almonds)
1.2 dl candied orange and lemon peel
100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- On the night before, measure up the raisins and pour the rum over them and leave to stand until needed. There should be very little liquid left after about 20 odd hours.
- Place the water and milk in a small saucepan and warm up to about 37-40 degrees, then crumble up the yeast and stir in to dissolve and set aside.
Whisk together eggs, sugar and salt until light and creamy.
- Add the yeast liquid and keep whisking until well incorporated.
- Transfer to the dough mixer and start adding flour. It should come together fairly well. Let the mixer knead until the dough has become shiny and gluten develops. A tip from Susan at Wild Yeast is to pinch about a tablespoon sized piece of dough and start stretching it. If it can form a continuous thin membrane with no breaks, then it's done.
- Now add the nuts and the candied peel. Drain the raisins (but don't squeeze them out) and add as well and let the mixer knead them in well.
- Cut up the butter in to 4-5 chunks and add one at a time. Here the dough will get very greasy on the surface and it'll seem that nothing is happening, but be patient, the machine will do it's job and incorporate it. The dough will start forming strings too, this is lovely gluten that will make it rise.
- When all has been incorporated, cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise until double in size. This would be about an hour or so. Make sure the kitchen isn't too hot, or the butter will start melting and may ooze out.
- Prepare the baking tin by lining bottom and sides with baking parchment. No need for greasing up anything.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface, no need for additional flour. Divide into 4 parts and roll each out with a rolling pin to a rectangle about 20 by 30 cm and 1 cm thick.
- From the short side, roll up like a cigar, then bend it into a horse shoe shape and place in the baking tin with the two ends down. Then let proof to double size again. Towards the end of the proofing, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 (200 degrees C) and place a pan or a bowl at the bottom shelf and pour some hot water in it. This is particularly important in electrical ovens.
- Turn down the oven to gas mark 5 (190 degrees C), place a sheet of aluminium foil over the panettones and bake in the middle of the oven. Because there is so much sugar in this dough, it burns easily and the foil will prevent it going black before it has baked through. Check after 20 minutes, if the panettones seem a bit uneven, turn the baking pan around and lower the heat to gas mark 4 (180 degrees C) and leave for another 15-20 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and remove from the baking tin as soon as possible, or condensation will form and make the panettones soggy.
The panettones rose well above the edge of the tin, so the trick to getting a high cake like that is to roll it like a cigar and bend into a horse shoe. We had some for breakfast this morning. It was a bit denser than the panettones you get in the shops and could have done with more sugar. I think I cheated a bit on the whisking at the beginning and the fresh yeast I used had been frozen, I'll try again with really fresh one next time. And perhaps the ground almonds might have had something to do with this, they should have been chopped. But I'm proud of my first attempt, it worked quite nicely indeed.
Something I also noticed is that the sides that were facing the middle of the tin didn't bake as dark as the outer ones. Next time I need to think out a more individual way of covering them with the aluminium foil to allow heat to go through inside the tin as well.