Sugar & Spice – Christmas Panettone
It won’t be the first time I have mentioned ‘When I lived in Rome’ but … When I lived in Rome, my Italian teacher was someone I became really friendly with and her father was a baker from Pisa. I was lucky enough to spend some time with her and this included a visit to the Bakery seeing the huge numbers of beautiful Panettone’s coming out of the oven. She showed me a trick which the locals used to warm the Panettone and that was to stick them on the big radiators which most Roman apartments had instead of putting it in the oven – the oven causes the crust to become too hard apparently.
So I changed Paul Hollywood’s Panettone slightly by adding chocolate and stem ginger, yes, he of the Great British Bake Off fame. I was quite cross with him by the time I finished with this as his direction to prove this in the fridge did not work at all for me and I had an unrisen flat Panettone. In an attempt to salvage it I decided to stick it beside the radiator for the entire day while I was at work and hey presto- result. The addition of chocolate and chopped stem ginger worked perfectly for this cake and I have been enjoying it toasted for breakfast since I made it…..well it is Christmas.
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
50g/2oz caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets instant yeast
140ml/5fl oz warm milk
5 free-range eggs, at room temperature, plus extra for egg wash
250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
240g/9oz dried mixed fruit
120g/4½oz chocolate drops or chopped chocolate – min 53% solids
100g/3½oz whole blanched almonds
2 tbsp chopped stem ginger
Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk and the eggs into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Keep Yeast and Salt on opposite sides of the bowl).
Mix slowly for two minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 6-8 minutes until you have a soft dough.
Add the softened butter and mix for another 5-8 minutes. Remember to scrape down the bowl to ensure that the dough gets mixed.
Add the chocolate, ginger, fruit and nuts. Mix until all is incorporated.
Tip the dough into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill overnight until the dough has firmed up enough for you to able to shape it.
Prepare a 18cm/7in panettone tin by brushing the inside generously with melted butter.
Remove the panettone dough from the fridge.
Knock back the dough, shape into a ball and place into the tin.
Leave to prove at room temperature for a further 2-3 hours or more if needed (I proved for 8 hours) until the dough just starts to dome over the top of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Brush the top of the panettone with egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and bake for a further 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Check the panettone periodically in case of browning too quickly – move and cover with foil if needed.
Remove the panettone from the tin immediately and allow to cool.
Delicious, eat as is, toasted or made into bread and butter pudding in the unlikely event of it going stale.