Authentic Italian Panettone

The sweet bread-cake was first introduced in Milan in the 15th century and was referred to as “pane di tono”, which translates to “luxury cake”.

Time: 15 hours (preparation and rising time)

Ingredients for 14-16 servings:

For the dough and the sponge cake:
5 cups (600 g) flour for all uses, separated, plus a little more (if needed)
1 tablespoon instant yeast (just over 1 pack)
2/3 cup water
6 egg yolks, weigh the egg whites, and add half their weight in milk (instead of egg whites) to the dough
Grated zest of 1 orange
2/3 cup sugar (around 140g)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
16 tablespoons (220 g) unsalted butter at room temperature to make the dough
1 tablespoon (14 g) cold unsalted butter, for the top of the dough in the oven
Vegetable oil spray (for dough bowl)

For fruits and nuts:
1/2 cup black raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup candied orange peel of good quality or a combination of 1 cm dried fruit cut into cubes, such as apricots, pears, cranberries, or dried cherries
1/4 cup dark rum, like Meyer’s
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup unbaked, unsalted chopped almonds (optional)
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean

First day: Preparation

Sponge cake:
In the bowl of the mixer, mix 1 cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of instant yeast together until mixed. Add the water and mix with a spoon. (It should have the consistency of thick cake dough.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 45 minutes. The sponge cake should be doubled in size. (If using active dry yeast, put the water in the bowl first, mix the yeast and let it stand until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then, add and mix the flour.)

While waiting for the sponge cake to rise, soak the fruit:
In a small bowl, mix the black and golden raisins, candied orange peel, rum, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla bean, and water together. Cover with a plate and let soak overnight. Measure the almonds and set the measuring cup on top of the plate (so you don’t forget them).

Mix the dough:
Once the sponge cake is puffed, add the yolks and milk one by one and mix with a spatula on medium speed until incorporated. Continue on medium speed and add the orange zest, sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining flour and salt until smooth, and on low speed gradually add about 2 1/2 cups of the flour mixture to our main mixture and mix for about 2 minutes or until smooth. The dough should be very soft and elastic. At low speed, gradually add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour until incorporated.

Knead the dough:
Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Gradually add the butter, a few tablespoons, until incorporated. Continue to mix until the dough becomes silky and shiny. If it still looks extremely sticky, gradually add 1 to 4 tablespoons of extra flour. The dough should be very soft and sticky, even if it is hardly removed from the sides of the bowl, but not from the bottom.

Refrigerate overnight:
Holding the dough in the bowl, beat it into a ball. Sprinkle lightly with vegetable oil and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the dough. Put in the fridge for 8 hours up to 2 days.

Second day: Shape and bake the panettone
Turn the dough into a floured work area and roll it into a flat rectangle that is about 30 by 40 cm (we do not need to be precise). Spread the drained fruits and almonds evenly on top. With a rolling pin, roll forcefully over the fruits and nuts to embed them into the dough.

Shape the dough:
Fold the long sides of the fruit-covered dough into thirds (like a letter). We will end up with a rectangle. Next, fold the bottom half of the rectangle to meet the top to form a square. Bring the corners to the center to form a ball and tighten the loose ends together. We wrap our arms around the dough to round the ball. Place the dough with the seam side down in the panettone form. Cover with plastic and let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the dough reaches the edge of the mold. This may take longer if the room is cold. (We suggest putting it in the oven in very low, warm air to help.)

Preheat the oven and scrape the panettone:
About 30 minutes before the panettone is ready to bake, place a grill on the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 ° C. When the dough has risen, use a sharp, serrated knife to cut a shallow cross from end to end. Scrape the surface (do not cut it deep). Place the cold piece of butter in the center of the dough.

Lower the oven to 160 ° C. Bake the panettone for 30 minutes. Then, place a piece of foil on top so that it doesn’t burn. Continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and an instant reading thermometer inserted in the center of the dough records at 90 ° C. (Insert it through the side of the cake, through the paper, so as not to spoil the top). Take it out of the oven, transfer it to the grill, and leave it to cool completely in the paper form!

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