Winter is for baking comforting sweets
Panettone—the soft, fragrant Italian bread studded with candied fruit—is a holiday or celebratory tradition in many homes, but a proper panettone costs as much as $50 from artisan bakers or can take up to two days to make. This is why my family rarely ate it while I was growing up. It was too much of a time or money investment for a working-class family.
So I was grateful to find the quick baking method developed by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg in their book Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I’ve followed the authors’ “bread in 5 minutes” brand for more than a decade now, so I was super excited when their holiday book was released this fall.
This panettone recipe requires only minutes of actual work plus a few passive hours of rising, chilling and baking. The result is not a traditionally pillow-y panettone, which requires a lot of baking acrobatics, but rather something closer to a slightly denser quick-brioche. Despite its slightly non-traditional texture, this recipe creates a wonderful stand-in that everyday home bakers can make, even with minimal skills. Eccezionale!
(Makes three loaves)
• 1 ½ cups lukewarm water (100 F or below)
• 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• ½ cup honey
• 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
• 1 teaspoon lemon extract
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
• 2 cups mixed dried and/or candied fruit*
• 7 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
• Pearl sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
• Special equipment: three 5¼- or 6-inch paper panettone molds
• Golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries and candied citrus peel individually or in a blend are all great options.
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the water, yeast, salt, honey, eggs, melted butter, extracts and lemon zest in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the dried fruit and flour without kneading, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle), a Danish dough whisk or a spoon. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled (don’t try to use it without chilling).
3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises for 2 hours.
4. The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate the container and use over the next five days.
5. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1½-pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Place the ball in a paper panettone mold, seam side down.
6. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.
8. Brush the panettone with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with pearl sugar. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. Internal temperature should be 200 F. Cool on rack before serving.