Yield: 2 medium round or 1 tall loaf
Said to have been fashioned by a humble baker's apprentice to impress a prospective marriage partner, panettone is a specialty of Milan. Serve the bread on Christmas Eve, Venetian style, with the tall loaf scooped out, filled with vanilla ice cream, and served with a hot bittersweet chocolate sauce and cups of camomilla tea. Day-old panettone makes a sublime main ingredient in your favorite bread pudding recipe.
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup snipped dried apricots
1/2 cup Pernod liqueur
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
1 cup warm milk (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur
About 4 cups unbleached all—purpose flour
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup silvered blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar, for glaze
1. In a small howl, combine the dried fruits and the 1/2 cup Pernod. Let stand for 1 hour.
2. In another small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of sugar over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl with a whisk or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the warm milk, butter, the 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Add the eggs, the 2 tablespoons Pernod, and 1 cup of the flour, and beat until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup more of the flour. Beat 1 minute longer. Drain the fruits, reserving the liqueur for the glaze. Add the fruits, pine nuts, and almonds; add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl, with the solids evenly distributed. Switch to a wooden spoon as necessary if making by hand.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 3 minutes, adding only 1 tablespoon flour at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. Push back any fruits that fall out of the dough during kneading. The dough should remain soft. Place the dough in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
5. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and divide into 2 equal portions for round loaves, or leave in one piece for a tall loaf. Form each of the 2 portions into a tight round ball and place at least 3 inches apart on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, cut an X 1/2-inch deep into the top of each loaf. To make a cylindrical loaf, place the whole amount of dough in a greased panettone mold or 2-pound coffee can. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Bake in the low center of the preheated oven until the bread(s) is browned and sounds hollow when tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet or mold to a rack.
7. While the bread(s) is still warm prepare the glaze. Combine the reserved liqueur and add enough water to equal 1/4 cup. (If all the liqueur has been absorbed by the fruits, combine 2 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons Pernod.) Place in a small saucepan and add the 3 tablespoons sugar; heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Brush the warm bread(s) twice all over and let stand to dry completely before serving.
Bread For All Seasons
By Beth Hensperger
Photography by Victoria Pearson
168 pages with 28 Full-Color Photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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This page created December 1998; modified November 2006