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Panettone milanese

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Daisy_A


Thanks to all who encouraged me with this project. I baked my trial run in a case made out of parchment, with a card and parchment bottom, moulded around the outside of a coffee tin, glued with flour and water paste. This was enough to take 500g of dough. The homemade case lasted the test run but got a bit battered. The high shape was also a bit hard to bake out.  It has a Shakerish charm when spruced up with ribbon but was coming apart at the seams a bit after the bake. However, It did the job and I have now ordered some of the Italian cases.

I looked at a range of formulae for panettone but knew that I wanted to use natural leaven. I was also keen to use an Italian recipe. The formula was an adaptation of a natural leaven panettone milanese from an Italian pastry chef, suggested by Nico. (Putting the URL in Google translate gets an English version for just over 2kg). I scaled this down to slightly less than 500g, reduced the fruit content a little and added lemon zest and a glaze. I reduced the fruit content in line with other formulae because I thought too much fruit would make a dense cake. However I didn't anticipate how much the cake would rise in the oven so will consider scaling it up again slightly. 

I also watched quite a few videos of Italian versions of panettone making posted by TFLers over the years, to get some idea of technique. The main difference was that I would be mixing by hand and most bakers I saw used a dough mixer or special kneader to mix the dough. Nevertheless, one of the videos described the kneader as mimicking the movement of 'a man's hands' so I guess the dough must have been trough needed originally? Well that was it - I could do this with 'a woman's hands' LOL. Andy suggested air kneading, which I use regularly for sourdough. It proved to be a very efficient way to develop the dough: More on that below. 

Below I've given my scaled down formula plus notes on method, particularly when I did things slightly differently from the original. Most departures were to make the dough easier to hand mix, in ways that were meant to keep the integrity of the formula.

This is a beautifully balanced formula. It is not particularly sweet or buttery, which I think makes the dough easier for a beginner to handle. This also suits our tastes, although other bakers may prefer a more enriched formula. Nonetheless, it is shot through with beautiful, intense burst of flavour due to the peel, limoncello coated raisins, zest and essences. It is possible to make more enriched dough with this formula. Nico reports that up to 120g of both butter and sugar per kilo may be added. As the fruits give a lot of the flavour it’s worth making your own or going for a flavoursome store brand. I was wary of overdoing the essence this time and making the dough too 'perfumey': However I will try slightly more next time. Now I’ve kneaded it once I may try a bit more butter, to compare, but will keep the sugar content low, particularly as using the raisin yeast adds subtle fruit sugars.

Do try this formula if you can. It's time consuming but I also found it soothing to just be rhythmically mixing and forming the panettone. Fills the house with gorgeous scents too! When cut into it had an airy crumb (phew), and tasted delicious. This formula suited us down to the ground and was a great find – thanks Nico!

Some notes on initial preparation.

3-4 days before baking: strengthen your leaven.

Many of you probably know this already, but it was interesting for me to learn how traditional Italian artisan panettones use a special stiff, sweet leaven. Instructions for making this are on the original link. Susan at Wild Yeast, whose detailed post on panettone baking was a great help, also gives a way of preparing a leaven, based on a regular sourdough.

Such leavens have strong raising power but are not particularly acidic. They can take a sweet dough through a long fermentation without being broken down and without giving too sour a tang to the final dough.

This type of leaven is traditionally refreshed every 4 hours for several days before being used. However as I have to be away from the starter for several hours at a time I did what Susan did and refreshed it at least twice a day over several days, stepping up feeds the day before baking.

Over the last few weeks I have been using a leaven refreshed with raisin yeast water. This has proved to have very strong raising power. I also thought that as the yeast had grown strong in the presence of a lot of sugar from the raisins, it would cope well with enriched dough. This proved to be the case :-). More about making a raisin yeast water leaven plus much more on fruit and vegetable yeasts is on this thread, started kindly by RonRay, with great additions from Akiko and Karin.

Following Susan's method I also used a gram of fresh yeast in Dough 1. I'm not sure I'd do that again as the power of the raisin leaven was awesome. I know from baguette making that over 12 hours even 1 g of yeast can produce a good rise. However the dough only needed to treble and it quadrupled on an unheated bench! Next time I think I will rely on the raisin yeast alone.

The Italian instructions are for a leaven of about 44% hydration, fed with the flour used in the final dough. There is much debate about what flour to use for panettone. For the second dough I used only Waitrose Canadian Very Strong White Bread Flour at 15% protein. This indeed lives up to its name. I used a mixture of 66% of this flour and 34% of Italian Alimonti Organic Type 00 at 11% protein in the first dough, to give me a little bit extra extensibility as well as strength.  I do have to say though, following advice from Nico, that I think using a strong flour in this formula is key to getting a strong dough and good aeration.

My first test leaven for this project was around 50% hydration, fed with raisin water and the 66/34 flour mix. However in the end I did not use this but went back to my usual leaven. I’m not sure if it was because the Canadian flour is so strong and my yeasts had not been fed it before, or b

ecause low ambient temperatures slowed fermentation, but this mix produced a leaven that rose but which was so strong that it tended to ping in on itself. In the end it fermented less well than my normal leaven.

Since my normal leaven had shown great rising power when used in sourdough, I switched back to that. This is a mix of existing starter, raisin water and 50/50 Waitrose Own plain white and plain wholemeal flours in 1:1.5:2 ratio (approximately 64% hydration?) I refreshed this over 3 days, moving as close as I could to 4 hourly feeds in the day before baking.


Day before baking


Dough 1 is prepared and ingredients are laid out for the next day.


Although raisins traditionally go into panettone dry, as Nico pointed out they also benefit from being soaked in limoncello overnight!


Had only a limoncello miniature :-( so shook raisins in enough limoncello and grappa to just coat them and left them in an airtight container on the bench. This made the limoncello flavour less intense but also meant that they were drier when used and so easier to work into the dough. The limoncello did provide a beautiful flavour, nonetheless. 


One panettone baker on video stresses setting out all the ingredients for the next day, the night before. I guess in bakeries you need to keep to this discipline. I was doing panettone after hours of paperwork for a Friday deadline, so finished first dough at 2am. and was reeling. I prepared the raisins but really wish I had done it all, even down to breaking eggs and keeping them in containers in the fridge. Had spare white but not yolk. Would have saved me up to 3/4 of an hour the next morning, while the leaven was fizzing like a volcano. Didn't help that we arrived to buy candied peel after the super-organised bakers who made their fruitcakes in September had bought the best of the bunch and that I decided that what had been left at the store was too wan. I then hastily threw my own together with organic orange peel, honey, grappa and sugar syrup while I did other things! Was yum, though.


Baking day


Sees the addition of Dough 1 to Dough 2, any decoration you might care to do and the baking and hanging of the panettone. Have been told it's better after 2 day's curing. Oh no…I was like a child at Christmas. Can I open it yet?


The formula and method are below, with notes at the end about where my method was an adaptation of the original and what I might do differently another time.


Have to say the first thing is I would do differently is have a good breakfast!  My husband sat down to sourdough toast and eggs and would gladly have done some for me. However the leaven had risen so high that I just grabbed a bowl of muesli and ran! Several hours later I felt a bit giddy and realised I hadn't had very much to eat all day. Worth having a hearty breakfast, as although it is pleasurable mixing this by hand, it also demands endurance. Well worth it, however!



As a beginner baker, normally baking alone, one of my key needs has been to know more or less what the dough is meant to look like at different stages. When dealing with sweet dough for the first time, I was really helped by the detailed pictures and write up of such doughs given on txfarmer's blog. Many thanks for that tx.


I have included some pictures below, hoping they might be of some value to others. My apologies if some are dim as they were taken in low light in short time gaps between baking stages. Row 1 is Dough 1 and after that Dough 2. Dough 1 also had egg in it but that stage was so messy no photos were taken! Dough 2 pictures on Row 2 start after egg has been added. Air kneading is on this link. Be forewarned, however, the video can take up to 10 minutes to load. 









Below is more information on formula and method. Have done my best with this, but maths is not my strong suit. I would be glad to be told of any errors. Spare column is for any bakers who want to add baker’s percentages. I’ve also kept this column in case I have a sudden upsurge in maths skills and want to add them myself!

Hydration of total formula: (71 water 23 raisin water) 94/153 (97+38+9+9) = 61% (Please note raisin water also contains sugar and yeast but I couldn’t estimate how much. Working hydration might therefore be slightly lower.)

Updated: Just trying this again and noted 9g more butter has to be added to final dough so added this to chart for Dough 2. Is already in Total Formula. Apologies for inconvenience!

Total Formula: Dough

Weight

 

Waitrose Very Strong Canadian White Flour (15% protein)

97g

 

Italian Alimonti Organic Type 00 (11% protein)

38g

 

Waitrose plain white flour (in leaven)

12g

 

Waitrose plain wholemeal flour (in leaven)

12g

 

Water 

71g

 

Raisin yeast water (I added an extra 10g of raisin water to Dough. This is not included here)

16g

 

Fresh yeast

1g

 

Salt

2g

 

Sugar

39g

 

Honey

5g

 

Egg yolk

40g

 

Softened butter

39g

 

Raisins (coated with grappa and limoncello)

50g

 

Orange peel

50g

 

Mixed natural vanilla and orange water essences

2g

 

Lemon zest

2g

 

Total

476g

 

 

Initial leaven

Weight

 

Plain and wholemeal starter at approx. 64% hydration

9g

 

Raisin yeast water

13g

 

Plain white flour

9g

 

Plain wholemeal flour

9g

 

Total

40g

 

 

First Dough

Weight

 

Flour mix (66% Canadian, 34% Italian 00)

111g

 

Water

71 g

 

All leaven

40g

 

Fresh yeast

1g

 

Sugar

30g

 

Egg yolk (1 egg plus little extra)

20g

 

Softened butter

30g

 

Total

303g

 

 

Final Dough

Weight

 

First Dough all, from above

303g

 

*Canadian flour only*

24g

 

Egg yolk (1 egg this time!)

20g

 

Butter

9g

 

Sugar

9g

 

Honey

5g

 

Salt

2g

 

Liqueur coated raisins

50g

 

Orange peel

50g

 

Lemon zest

2g

 

Natural vanilla and orange flower water oils (1 coffee spoon)

2g

 

Total dough

476g

 

Glaze

Weight

 

Almond flour

10g

 

Bread flour

2g

 

Sugar

12g

 

Lemon zest

2g

 

Cocoa powder

1g

 

Egg white (see note below)

16g

 

Total glaze

43g

 

Total panettone weigh, pre-baking, with glaze

519g

 

 

Stage

Method

Preparing panettone leaven

Started to strengthen at least 3 days before, feeding at least twice a day.

Left the leaven covered on the bench.

Day before baking fed it as close to every 4 hours as possible.

Mixing of first dough

Weighed the leaven into a large mixing bowl.

Mixed fresh yeast with sugar, added water at 40C (ambient temperature was only C19. Adjust as necessary).

Poured this solution over the leaven and mixed with a dough whisk to a milky consistency.

I then added the flour and autolysed for 30-40 minutes.

In the bowl, mixed in egg by folding over into the dough with a spatula until there were no visible liquid bits on the outside to fly off when air kneaded.

Then air kneaded dough with oiled hands until the egg seemed well incorporated but the dough was not overworked.

At this stage it looked like a glistening, thick mayonnaise.

Put dough back in the bowl, folded in softened, cubed butter and air kneaded again, until butter was well incorporated.

The dough seemed a bit dry so I added 10g more raisin water, which effectively added more yeast. However please see note below and be led by your own dough. :-)

Temperature

Milanese formula suggests most of the preparation for baking be done at an ambient temperature of 20-22C.

First proof

The first dough was then left on the bench at room temperature for 12 hours, as in the Milanese recipe. Adapt as needed.

Mixing of final dough

First ingredients added to Dough 1, in the order indicated in the Milanese method:

Placed Dough 1 in the bowl: Mixed in flour, honey, salt, sugar

Formed into a ball.

Added the egg and incorporated them in the bowl; Added the butter and began to incorporate it in the bowl.

As I was hand mixing I departed from the Milanese method, at this point and did the following (see notes below for more detail):

Air kneaded in timed 10 minute ‘shifts’, testing the windowpane at each stage.

The dough was coming together well after 10 minutes.

After 20 I could pull and sustain a thin windowpane.

After 30 I could pull the dough to 'latex glove' consistency. 

I then chopped the fruit in using a bench scraper/Scotch cutter.

The dough is then left to rest for an hour.

Shaping

With oiled hands, I shaped the mixture into a rough ball and dropped it into the well-greased panettone ‘case’.

Second proof

Proofed at room temperature until the dough reached just below the top of the case.

Preparation for baking

Glazed the top of the panettone with a glaze based on one used by Nico for colomba and added cocoa. Topped with some blanched almonds. Glaze formula above.

I had heard about forming 'ears' on the panettone, but was not sure how to achieve this. Have since learnt from correspondence between Eric and Nico how this might be done.

Preheated oven to 180C

I left 2 small fajita trays at the bottom of the oven so that I could add some water in the second half of the bake. This does not turn to steam but provides humidity.

Baking

The Milanese method suggests baking for 1 hour at 180C for 1kg. In my oven, the 500g needed about 35 minutes. I suggest you adjust for your own oven. Mine is quite weak.

I added a small amount of water to the small fajita pans for the second half of the bake to aid humidity. The pans were not hot enough to create steam.

I needed to tent the panettone after 20 minutes with aluminium foil, to prevent the top burning.

Advised internal temperatures for panettone range from 185-190-200F. Mine peaked at 187F.

Cooling

Cooled upside down on skewers, overnight. 

Left 2 days before cutting. Note: That bit was hard!

 

Further notes:

Preparing panettone leaven: (See notes at top of blog about how the method in the grid differs

from traditional Milanese preparation).

Mixing of first dough: In one of the Italian videos, I saw bakers start mixing by making a syrup solution in a machine. This seemed a good approach for hand mixing as I find sugar harder to incorporate by hand than either eggs or butter.


I used some fresh yeast, as the raisin yeast was untested in sweet dough. However I think the raisin yeast would have been enough. It is, however, possible to mix fresh yeast with regular sourdough and get a great result, as Susan does.


Very few methods for mixing panettone call for autolysis. Many, and particularly those for mixers, call for all ingredients to be incorporated at once. However I find it hard to imagine making bread now, without autolysis, particularly when the method calls for strong gluten formation, as this one does.


The Canadian flour is very strong and sucks in water. The raisin water is also stickier than filtered water. After mixing the first dough looked a little dry to me so I added 10g extra raisin water.


This was a departure from the formula so be led by your own dough at this stage. In my case adding raisin water also added more yeast.  Also I see on the videos that the traditional Italian first doughs look quite firm.


Temperature and first proof: Ambient temperature in our house was around C19 at this point, falling to 15C at night. The recipe recommends an ambient temperature of 20-22C throughout the whole process. Lower temperatures did not retard the first dough, however, as it quadrupled in 12 hours.


I was worried the dough had gone over and that given the next ‘feed’ only included 24g of flour, it would not have power to do the second rise. This was unfounded as I hope you can see from the pictures above! However, next time I would try to take the dough off when trebled.  I would also try to weigh all ingredients for Day 2 the evening before, if possible so that I could add part 2 straight away if Dough 1 was very well developed.


Mixing of final dough: After adding the butter, I made some strategic departures from the method of the Milanese formula, in order to help the hand mixing. The method recommends that the fruit be added before mixing. When the fruit is incorporated no more kneading is done and the final dough is left to rest for 1 hour.


However I didn’t feel that I could mix a strong enough dough by hand without further kneading.


Thanks to Andy’s great advice I was also going to air knead and I wanted to mix and test the dough to full windowpane without having to bother about bits of orange peel and raisins flying in all directions!


Following Andy’s advice again, I cut the fruit in once the dough had reached a very strong windowpane.


I have never worked a dough to a very strong windowpane before. In fact I’ve never done such an enriched dough before. However I hope you can see from the picture at the start of Row 3 that the dough was very strong and pulled to ‘latex glove’ consistency. (My dh was at the shops at the time I took this picture so I got my friend ET to do the windowpane!). Joking – if ET had been there I would have got him to help with the mixing!


I was a bit concerned about spotting dough readiness but found, once started, that I had a sense of the dough I didn’t have when I started baking. For example, at one point I decided to rest the dough. I checked the timer and it had 4 seconds to go! Uncanny but I guess these skills build up?


However one of the things that helped me the most in terms of judging the strength of the dough was the picture of a strong windowpane that txfarmer gives on this post. Many thanks for giving such a clear illustration. Without it I think I would have stopped too soon.


Second proof: Milanese method suggests ¾ of an hour at 22C for this. However at lower ambient temperature this took about 2 hours, including ¾ final warming under plastic wrap with a bowl of hot water to take the dough from 19C to 24C.


Glazing: I glazed when the dough was just below the top of the case. Egg white was very ‘gloopy’ and hard to measure accurately, so 16g is an approximation. It could have been nearer 19g. I'd say be guided by how well your own mixture holds together. The ideal consistency, following Nico’s colomba method, is that of a ‘dense cream’. I added almonds on top in a star shape. Will place even closer together next time, if I use them, as the panettone rose so much the almonds ended up more like a fringe. Might invest in some pearl sugar next time, although may also use only a simple glaze so that dry ingredients don't risk impeding the crust expansion. (Have done this now in the wider panettone moulds and almonds in a ring in the middle weighed down the fragile dough so I think I would split the nuts and scatter or space them more widely, as seen on Sylvia, breadsong and txfarmer's panettones).


Baking: Thanks to the foil tent, the panettone top did not burn but it was vulnerable because of the abnormally tall homemade case. I think 500g of dough would bake out more evenly in a lower case.


I also greased the panettone case like a mad thing, because I was sure it would stick. In the end I peeled it off anyway, so this may have been superfluous and may have reduced browning? Any ideas on that front welcome.


However, I recommend the tenting technique over turning the oven temperature down to avoid burning the top, as suggested in some methods. I found, with a relatively weak oven, that when I dropped the oven temperature, the internal temperature of the panettone dropped from 186F to 177F.


Checking with a digital probe used outside of the oven that the temperature had climbed again, took so long that the panettone began to wobble on its base like a drunk at the bus stop. Crimped a bit but didn't collapse. Was a close run thing so won't do that again! Will either tent earlier or get a thermometer that can be inserted while the panettone remains in the oven.


My first panettone milanese: notes on the trial run, formula and method, with thanks for all advice! Daisy_A 2010




© Daisy_A 2010 FIrst published on The Fresh Loaf, December 15, 2010 at 12.22 GM time. I love to share bread stories and read other bakers' posts about bread. If you republish this page for 'fair use' please acknowledge authorship and provide a link to the original URL. Please note, however, I do not support the unauthorized and unattributed publishing of my text and images on for-profit websites..

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