Inspired by Susan's account in her blog, I decided to make Panettone as presents for friends for the holidays.
I pretty much followed Susan's recipe. I used vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans, and I did soak the fruit in Amaretto and Rum, plenty of it. Before using I drained them and then tossed the fruit in some flour to dry it. I used half the water and it seemed the dough was way too wet. So I added about 5 good size spoons of flour. Then, in the final mixing stage, I used a tiny amount of water to get it where I thought it needed to be. Did I mention I love my new DLX mixer? This batch of 4.7 pounds of dough would have never made it through my KA mixer!
Like Susan I converted my normal stiff starter with three 50% hydration feedings in a four hour cycle. Started in the morning so pre-dough was ready for mixing around 9PM. Add 12 hours ferment and ready for production next morning. I proofed in my oven with the light on. It took about 4.5 hours. Unlike Susan's instructions I let it proof a little more in the oven, until about 1/2" under the rim. Then I glazed with the glazing from the recipe, added some blanched almonds on top and put a candied green cherry in the middle, pearl sugar around. Oven spring was incredible. Interestingly enough, I must not have put even surface tension on the dough. The decoration that was smack in the center moved outward on some breads during the oven spring. Baked 40 minutes at 350F on rack (not on stone).
I had inserted wooden skewers, as suggested before putting dough in the molds, and so immediately after baking I removed the bread to hang it upside down. The construct I came up with consisted of two plastic storage creates with some slats across them.Panettone hanging out to dry
The tips of some skewers came a little close to the oven wall and smoked a little in the beginning. I considered soaking them for my next bake, but decided against that. I am afraid the moisture escaping from them might not do the bread any good. The bread was finished around 9PM and I let it hang overnight.
We tasted one this morning. I had to, honest! I never made this before and I wanted to make sure the result was OK before starting to hand these out to friends as holiday gifts.
Panettone sliced and crumb
The bread is quite delicate. I think it came out excellent and the taste was just wonderful. I either have improved my baking skills and am now able to adjust doughs based on (expected) feel, or I continue to get lucky. Most of my first time breads work out just fine. Susan's recipe and description in her blog (http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/12/07/panettone/) is excellent, so I am not repeating it here.
We're restraining ourselves and have half left for tomorrow. The other three went to friends this afternoon. I have another starter building and will mix pre-dough for another batch of 6 tonight.