15g Dry baking yeast
250ml Lukewarm water
45g Caster sugar
125g Low-fat plain yoghurt
1 Vanilla bean
15g Grated lemon zest
1 pinch Salt
500g Flour 00 (see note below)
Melted butter (to brush, optional)
In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and caster sugar. Cover and let stand 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, lemon zest, the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean and salt. Mix well. Stir in flour a little 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.
Place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a round 20cm cake tin. In a small bowl, toss dried fruit with icing sugar. Punch down the dough, transfer to floured surface and knead in the fruit. Form the dough into a ball, place in tin, cover loosely with the tea towel and let rise 30 minutes. (Loaf will rise above the tin sides.) Brush with melted butter, if desired. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180c degrees C. Bake for 45 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Work the dough, if possible, with a dough mixer. Kneading times with a mixer are in the order of 20 minutes, whereas hand-kneading will require about 5 minutes.
The room where the panettone is made must be warm – about 22 C. The ﬂour should also be warm and sitting at about 20 C. What is generally used is 00 grade flour, available from specialty food outlets. This is very fine all-purpose flour and it is extremely dry. If it has been wet where you are making the panettone, you may want to dry your flour in an oven, as it absorbs moisture unless it is tightly sealed. The water used should also be warm – about 24C.
Don’t forget a pinch of salt, because it stimulates rising.
Commercial bakers use a sourdough starter (i.e. wild yeast). Home recipes generally call for baker’s yeast.
The baking time will depend on the size of the panettone. Assuming an oven temperature of 200 C, half an hour will be sufficient for small-to-medium-sized panettoni, whereas larger ones will require considerably more. Home ovens are best suited to small-to-medium-sized panettoni.
If you want the surface of the panettone to be shiny, slip a bowl of water into the oven when the panettone is half-baked to raise the humidity.
Commercially sold panettoni are taller than they are broad. To obtain this effect at home, you’ll have to put a ring of heavily buttered thick paper around the dough when you put it in the oven, or use a panettone mould. If you instead want a panettone that’s wider than it is high, like a normal bread loaf, simply put the dough in the oven. If you choose this course, you will want to put the dough on a pizza stone or similar. Happy Cooking!!
To find out more about the traditions and background of the Panettone, read our story on The King of Christmas Cakes http://italiantravelloverscollective.com/panettone-the-king-of-christmas-cakes/