Saturday, 23 November 2013


Finally the winter has arrived and so the christmas vibe. It' cold and windy, the streets are decorated with thousands of tiny lights, shiny garlands and gigantic christmas trees all over the place. I must admit that I kind of like the winter. I always complain about the cold and the lack of sun,  but its nice to be curled up under a thick alpaca blanket with a cup of tea and why not some fresh baked panettone? For all of you that don't know about Panettone, basically its a traditional sweet bread made in Milan, Italy, around Christmas. 

Oh my,  we've been eating it non stop for the past 10 days. I've been trying different recipes, some not too good, some great. I experienced some frustration, specially with one recipe that turned out overly sweet and hard as a rock. This are complicated recipes that require your attention all day, so imagine the disappointment when things don't turn out as expected? (really, I wanted to cry :() Anyway,  Juan couldn't be happier as he loves them either way ( it makes me feel so good when I see him devouring the bread from the "not so great recipe, it really cheers me up).
The good news is that finally  I ended up with one of the best recipes ever.  I've adapted a recipe from The River Cafe, and the result was a moist, not too sweet, light and full of nuts yeasted bread.
I decided to bake it in mini paper molds, I think is a nice gift idea for X-mas, but you could bake it in a regular cake tin or in one big paper mold.
I really encourage you to do this recipe. Its SO good, I mean it. I've tried many panettones throughout my life, and this is the real stuff. And xmas is round the corner so why not start getting tuned some weeks before?


For 14 mini molds or a  1 20cm cake

4 tbsp. milk
30 grs. fresh yeast or 1 tbsp dried yeast
400 grs. flour
150 grs sugar
250 grs. butter. softened
2 large eggs
7 large yolks
2 vanilla pods
1 lemon zested
1 orange zested
1 tsp salt
80 grs raisins, soaked in 25ml rum
70 gr. candied orange peel, cut into 0,5 cm sliced
80 grs. sultanas
60 grs. walnuts, coarsely chopped
50 grs. almonds, coarsely chopped
20 grs. flaked almonds

If using one big mold, butter and line both sides of a 20 cm diameter cake tin at least 9 cm deep. Warm the milk and add the yeast, 1 tbsp of flour and 1 tsp por sugar. Mix well and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until frothy.

Put the softened butter and the remaining sugar into a bowl and mix  with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the whole eggs one at a time, continuing to beat, then add the yolks, one at a time. Split open the vanilla pods and scrape out the seeds. Fold these and the grated orange and lemon zest into the mixture.

In a separate bowl sieve the remaing flour, add the salt and stir in the yeast mixture. When fully combined add the butter mixture and mix together until you have a soft dough. 
Place the dough in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook or use the dough hook of your hand mixer (which I did and worked perfectly) and slowly knead for 5-20 minutes. Alternatively, do this on a floured surface by hand. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl that you have fully greased with butter. Cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise, it should double in size in a warm place. This will take at least 1 hour (if you don't have a warm place, turn on the oven for 5 minutes to warm it up, turn it off and leave the dough to rise in there).

Drain the raisins. Put the dough back into the food mixer and knead for 10 minutes. Then slowly add the candied peel, walnuts, almonds, raisins and sultanas. Knead on a low speed until the dough becomes silky and light. Place the dough in the prepared cake tin or  divide the mix evenly and place in the individual molds. Cover with flaked almonds and leave in a warm place to rise and expand to double its original size. This will take 2 hours.

Preheat oven 200 C degrees. Place the cakes on the lower shelf and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 175 C degrees and cook for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. If baking a big bread, cook for 15 minutes at 200 C and lower the oven to 175C and keep cooking for 45 more minutes. Make sure the cake is not getting too brown on top, if so, cover loosely with foil. Its ready when its firm to touch and golden on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
The panettone will keep week in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. I highly recommend to warm it in the oven for 5 minutes before eating. It will taste delicious.

Hope you like the recipe.
Don't get frustrated if something goes wrong, eventually  it will come right!
Have a nice weekend.