The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Panettone - The Last Bake of 2012

dabrownman's picture

Panettone - The Last Bake of 2012

The last bake of 2012, panettone, was supposed to cap off a year (actually 11 months) of usually decent individual and different bakes with different formulas that numbered well over 100 – quite an achievement that deserved a year end spectacular panettone.  But alas, it was not to be.


Sadly, baking gremlins worked their evil spells as soon as the fine looking, up to that point, panettone, hit the oven.

The conversion from rye sour to white Italian levain went well over several days.  The first dough more than tripled in volume in 12 hours. The gluten development of the second dough was very good with an extremely fine window pane.  The second dough build rose very well too.  All looked good as we loaded the dough balls into the home made panettone moulds.


The dough rose well in the (2) moulds that held over 800g of dough each and then the glaze went on when they were fully risen after 6 hours.  They were just right for baking when they went into the 350 F oven.

Then the first of several catastrophic disasters struck.  First off, the bottom of the moulds blew out one side under oven spring and the panettone took on the look of a tower in Pisa- only leaning over to a greater degree than the famous tower.


The recipe said to bake for 45 minutes until the inside read 185 F they didn't look quite done so we baked them for an additional 10 minutes – but forgot to check the inside temperature – never ever do this.


We took them out of the oven and hung them upside down from my wife’s clothes drying rack.  My wife didn't like that at all, since it was in the living room with carpet and said to get a towel under the two bat like hanging panettone.


By the time I got back with the towel, the panettone had separated in the now clearly, way underdone, still liquid centers and plopped the bottom half of each onto the carpet.  My apprentice wanted to fix this problem in her normal way so it was all I could do to keep her from wolfing the fallen ones down with her being a short legged wolf descendant.

Here is the other one that managed to fall on it's liquid center so the glaze is still intact.

I un-hung the remaining half of the panettone and stuffed what I could of the now carpet fuzzy half back in on top and sent them back into the heat to bake to1 85 F - as they should have been baked originally.  It was another 30 minutes before they read 185 F and were taken out to cool on a rack – no hanging upside down this time.  It seemed pointless since no right side up could be discerned after careful perusal from all angles.

Oddly, even though they were deeply brown on the outside and the right temperature on the inside, they were still not done in the center and looked like they needed to bake to 205 F like other breads.

Remember, this all took place on New Year’s Eve and I could say that my apprentice was already snockered and responsible for this ridiculous baking feat.   But No!  Even though she was still totally responsible for the catastrophic outcome, she hadn't had a thing to drink with it being before 5 PM and is just a near worthless baking apprentice.

So 2012 ended on a gooey, messy, carpet fuzzy kind of note but, the panettone sure tasted good after being toasted for 7 minutes to finally get it done.  Use your thermometer and bake until done in 2013.  Also use a tin for panettone if you don't have proper moulds :-)

Happy New Year.


linder's picture


I read your panettone experiment with interest as I have yet to dive into the fray and try this one for myself.  Some baking days things just don't go right no matter how you try.  Everything looks great and then the baking gods take over with a little mischief.  There will be more time in 2013 to try again and perfect the technique.  Happy baking!


dabrownman's picture

I thought for sure everything was Hunky Dorey and looked perfect when they went in the oven and then the evil baking gods attacked viciously and destroyed everything panettone.  It was pretty cool to see Pisa Panettone though :-)  Like croissants, there will be another attempt at panettone in about 3 weeks

Thanks for your encouragement.

Happy baking to you too

gmabaking's picture

when all is said and done! Maybe it is a good thing I just never did get the time to make a Panetonne this year. I've had that happen too when the middle is uncooked while the outside browns up beautifully. Never figured out how that happens unless somehow the outside starts firming up faster than the inside can bake. A mystery, like so many other things about bread. Makes it more of an art form than a science, which also makes success even more sweet when I do get close. I've never had the nerve to hang panetonne. What works for me is to put a dish towel over a soft pillow, place the panetonnes on their sides until cooled. ( I usually can't leave them alone at this point and gently turn them a few times)

I have a nice fluted panetonne pan but several years ago discovered the paper ones from King Arthur. This year I had ordered some ahead (unusual for me) so I used some of them for the fruit cake. So much easier than greasing waxed paper and trying to form paper around a tube pan.I thought it was because of trying to keep sugary things to as low buildup as possible that caused me to not bake Panetonne this year but maybe it was the Panetonne mischief crew out and about that held me back!

At any rate, a new year is here so ready or not, we have lots of baking for 2013 ahead.


dabrownman's picture

I learned from this scientific panettone oddity bake is that expending dough from heat in the oven exerts pressure in every direction not just up and the mould needs to be secure and held together well- or it won't hold together.  Since the bottom could move and wasn't attached to the sides the dough just pushed it's way though. Since these were large panettones, there was a lot to  push through :-)

We do have our best baking in front of us in 2013, especially when it comes to panettone!

Happy Baking in 2013 Barbara!

varda's picture

looked like it was just right.    I don't see any reason why Pannetone couldn't for instance be your 20th bake of the New Year.   Looks like you've got it short of it cracking in half and landing on the rug.    And please give your apprentice a break.   She tries hard even if she doesn't always get it right.   -Varda

dabrownman's picture

baking list for early in February for a birthday cake and all the ingredients are lined up ready to go.  I think I agree with you that once the beasts are properly contained and baked to the right temperature on the inside - all will be well except for what ever strange things happen next time :-)

My apprentice said she might soon go on strike if I don't start to bake better and give her and additional doggy treat break at 2:30 PM.  You are right. she does try and work hard but she could give her master a bark or two when she see's him baking more stupid than normal too!

Happy Baking in 2013 Varda!

breadsong's picture

Hi dabrownman,
Looks like you mixed up a perfectly gorgeous dough. It must make a delicious bread cake :^)
:^) breadsong

dabrownman's picture

your own birthday cake now would it?  Take 2 will have to be better than the first attempt as it can't really get much worse unless the oven explodes and burns down the house next time!

Thanks fir the wishes and Happy Baking to you this coming year.  Can't wait to see your next creation breadsong!

gmagmabaking2's picture

Looking toward Valentine's Day... we all love those 3 little words.... _ ____ ___! For those of us who baked those words are .... "It tastes Good!" However it all went down (and out) you can lift up your head and shout!!!! IT TASTES GOOD.

Best of baking in the new year!


dabrownman's picture

'rustic', best tasting, catastrophic disaster we have managed to bake so far - not even close :-)

We will endeavor to preserver in our baking the coming year!

Best you you and yours for 2013.  My your varied weekly baking with your sisters go well and be free of ill tasting gremlins Diane!

Janetcook's picture

Mr. D,

What a sad, sad tale.  But, as others have said, taste rules.  Who cares about how it looks or how it got to where it ended :-)  At least you knew to persevere....If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.....

I applaud you for undertaking such a bake in the first place.  I imagine your apprentice learned a lot from this bake and will be ready to try again as soon as you forgive her for her part in this debacle.  She seems to be the forgiving type and who could hold a grudge against someone so cute?  Certainly not thee.....

Take Care,



dabrownman's picture

claims she was just trying to help clean up the rug mess when she rushed in, tongue lapping, as I was trying to scoop the fallen halves up to save them from who knows what..  I'm sure she meant well and all is forgiven.  She, as you point out,  is too cute to be upset with for very long.  But, baking apprentices can be fickle, besides being pretty demanding, so it will be interesting to see how she tries to make this debacle into a baking apprentice advantage somehow.

I really can't believe she didn't tell me, no ....force me to tin the panettone up in parchment lined coffee cans.  She has horded them over the years for occasions just like this.   I mean.... when will she use them if not then? 

Well, we will be baking this again soon enough and I'm going to find those cans and use them this time!

Happy Baking in 2013 Janet!

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Oh no dabrownman!  I don't like seeing this happen.  I bet you were so excited to have this turn out.

I for one have not tried baking Panetone as it intimidates me to no end.  Seeing this happen to a well seasoned baker like you, only compounds that fear.

Im sure if you dry it out a bit and turn it into a Panetone bread pudding, it would make the world seem right again :) A Panetone I got at X-mas is busy drying out in the fridge, ready to become a decadent dessert.

I have a great recipe for Panetone bread pudding, so let me know if you could use it.


dabrownman's picture

Panettone Bread Pudding recipe.  I have one of these beauties frozen just waiting for pudding!  Don't worry about making Panettone.  Everything went really well until it landed into the wrong baking apparatus.  A parchment lined coffee can would have been a better choice and taking the inside temp would have helped too:-)

I'll be posting my version of the formula on Feb 3 if all turns out well then.

Happy baking in 2013 John ! 

isand66's picture

I would love to have seeen a video of that beauty falling from its cradle onto the fuzzy carpet.  I can imagine your wife uttering a few choice words about you never listening to her while you of course were only concerned with your labor of love now having a fuzzy outer crust.

keep,at it and I'm sure in February you will find success.



dabrownman's picture

if filmed in slow motion!  The soundtrack would not have been for younger audiences or those with ears for that matter.  If was a little faster I could have gotten the towel under there in time but just missed it - so  we got 'the look' from the wife :-)  We will succeed in February -  if something else doesn't rear its ugly head.

Happy Baking in 2013 Ian!

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

My two favorite things to do with Panetone, especially when it starts to get stale.  It's our traditional Christmas brunch. It tastes so good, no one really cares what it looks like.

dabrownman's picture

using this for French toast but I'm thinking it would be fantastic!  Thanks for the great idea!

Happy Baking in 2013!

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Same to you!!

I thought I would pass on my favorite method for using this kind of bread.

The night before I want to serve it, I cut thick slices of the bread and place them in a single layer in a buttered baking dish. Then I make up a mixture of eggs, cream, vanilla, orange zest and sugar (all to taste) and pour it over the bread, just to cover.  I then cover the dish with aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, I bake at 425 degrees for about an hour or so, until the eggs puff up and the bread gets crispy brown on the sides.  I serve this with a fruit compote and/or whipped cream, though a little maple syrup or a sprinkling of powdered sugar is good, too.  It's about the most indulgent thing I make all year long, so for that reason we limit it to Christmas morning brunch.  Because everything is made the night before, it's very easy. Of course you can do this with any kind of bread, but Panetone is particularly good. 

mwilson's picture

I haven't been around for a while and s0 I'm late to the party. Making panettone IS the most challenging of all breads and so the gremlins must have been ready and waiting... Did the final dough triple in volume? Did you get tremendous oven spring? And finally is there any detectable acidity in the taste?

What recipe / formula did you use and can you elaborate your process of converting to an Italian sourdough.

Nice effort. 

dabrownman's picture

I followed the directions at Wild Yeast here

My differences were:

I took my stiff Rye Sour / Desem starter, kept at 6o% in the fridge and built it up over 3 days by feeding it every 6 hours at 84 F and arriving at a very vigorous white starter in 72 hours.  It was a lot of work but it seemed worth it.  I used a heating pad to control the temperature where it was supposed to be at each stage.  I used 2 g of ADY in place of the 1 g of instant or SAF.   I made 2 larger panettone instead of 3 smaller ones.  I used some raisins cranberries and apricots re-hydrated in bourbon and brandy in place of the sultanas.  I used American unbeached AP flour - the closest thing to 00 I have.  Those were the only changes.

The first dough easily tripled and the 2nd dough more than doubled.  It was explosive in the oven both up and down - blowing the bottom out of each mould.    I don't remember any acidity in the pannetone.  The starter used is refreshed so often for so long that the acid sour of normal SD has been removed in the feeding process.  

I thought the recipe was pretty good and my only wish is that I would have baked it in a tin to hold in the spring and taken the temperature to make sure it was done.    Everything seemed fine until it went in the oven :-)

I was going to use your recipe but ran across this one.  It seemed pretty similar to your adaptation.  Baking at 350 F to 185 F on the inside both seemed low to me  though.

I'm going to be taking another shot at this in 3 weeks!

Hopefully your experience can help me out for this birthday cake.