In Italy, traditional panettone is a must-have at the holidays. The fruit-studded loaf is a soaring masterpiece, carefully developed with plenty of kneading and rising time. The bread is sweetened with dried fruit, and enriched with egg yolk and butter. This recipe calls for creating a biga, an Italian-style bread starter that allows the yeast to ferment overnight and adds flavor and light texture to the bread.
Biga (Day 1)
- 1 cup unbleached flour, divided
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast, divided
- 1/2 cup water
Dough (Day 2)
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 large egg yolks, 1 whole egg
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast
- 3 cups unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced, room temperature
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup dried pineapple, finely chopped
- 8-inch panettone mold, or 8-inch cake pan, parchment paper and stapler
- In a medium bowl or 4-cup storage tub, stir together the biga ingredients: flour, yogurt, yeast and water, until well-combined. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
- If you don't have an 8-inch panettone mold, make a parchment collar to fit an 8-inch round cake pan (the collar is, in effect, a squat tube that extends the walls of the cake pan upward for this tall bread). You'll need a 28-inch long piece of parchment. Fold the parchment in half, lengthwise. Fit it into the pan, resting the bottom edge of the paper in the bottom of the pan up against the sides. Where the tube ends meet, staple the paper together at the top and bottom, to make an 8-inch diameter collar. Remove the collar and liberally butter the bottom of the pan, then place the collar inside.
- Transfer the biga to a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl, and use the dough hook, or a large spoon, to mix in the yogurt, water, egg yolks and yeast. When the ingredients are incorporated, add the flour, a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated each time. When all the flour has been added, knead for 5 minutes in the stand mixer or 7 minutes by hand. The dough should be very soft and a little sticky.
- Add the salt and sugar, kneading for about 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 7 minutes by hand. Add the butter, kneading for another 4 minutes, until the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth but not greasy. Knead in the fruit.
- Lightly flour the counter and scrape out the dough onto the floured surface. Fold the dough into itself to form a ball, then place it, seam side down, in the prepared pan. Place in a humid, draft-free place for 10 hours (an oven, if not in use, works well). The dough should rise to about 8 inches tall.
- To bake, preheat the oven to 350⁰F (remove the pan first, if using the oven for rising) and make an egg wash with one egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the risen loaf with the egg wash carefully, so you don't deflate it.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan in the oven 180 degrees, so the back is turned to the front. Bake for 20 minutes more until the loaf turns deeply golden brown. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes before removing the paper and gently tapping it out of the pan. Cool the loaf completely before storing, tightly wrapped, for up to four days.
370 calories, 12 g. fat, 280 mg. cholesterol, 150 mg. sodium, 54 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fiber, 11 g. protein