My second holiday project, besides all of the extra loaves of sourdough bread, was a loaf of panettone bread. Making traditional panettone is time consuming and not something that one would think a beginner would try. But, being Italian and loving to have panettone on Christmas morning, I set about to try making one for myself.
The first thing I did was buy the candied fruit that goes inside, as well as the dried cranberries. I really don’t like raisins, and as I was reading other people’s recipes I noted that they put in what they like. So I did the same! So, dried cranberries, candied lemon, orange and pineapple. I also soaked the cranberries in just a little bit of bourbon!
Next, I started on the sourdough starter for the sweet bread. I followed one recipe, with a timeline from another person. I’m still not sure why I feed the starter the same ratio every four hours for over 24 hours, but I did that. My problem was that it’s supposed to ferment in 80 degree temperature. My house right now is at 66 degrees. I don’t have a proofing box, so I tried a couple of the techniques I read about online.
First, I tried the microwave a cup of water, and then put the dough in and close the door after it’s heated. That worked for a little bit. But then one of the times I heated the water it exploded in the microwave. I figured I would try something different.
The next thing I tried was turning on the oven light. That did not get very warm at all. So, I took out the starter, turned on the oven, waited a couple of minutes, turned the oven off and then put the starter back in it. Well. . . I forgot to turn the oven off once and it got too hot. I’m pretty sure it started to cook my starter. So, I also did another starter and kept two going at this point.
Next, I tried keeping it on a pan on top of the oven when I had the oven on (I was multitasking that day – trying to cook too many items). I thought that was doing good, then noticed the bottom of both getting way too warm.
Fast forward to the next morning, I fed both starters one last time, let them sit on the counter, then picked the one that looked the best (the second one I started, btw), and made my next dough from that.
Everything else went fairly well, the dough had good strands of gluten before I added the butter, and I took my time doing that. I let it rise again, and then made the second dough. After that I did a couple of stretch-and-folds to add the fruits. I put it in a panettone paper to set aside and rise *hopefully* again. It was supposed to be divided into two before I did that, but either the starter was really bad (which, I think was true), or my papers were too big (which I think was also true). Anyhow, into the paper it went, and off to rise in the oven (just the light, no trying to turn it on again for a short time) for well more than the amount of time the recipe stated. It was supposed to get to the top of the paper. It never did. So, 10:30pm on Christmas Eve I put it in the oven.
I cooked it for the amount of time it said, and it looked brown so I took it out. I went to put it upside down like you’re supposed to (and why, at this point I did that I’m not sure), and some of the fruit started falling out! So obviously it wasn’t cooked, and at this point I didn’t see any need to put it upside down once it was. So out came the skewers at the bottom, and in the panettone went again to the oven.
A good 40 minutes later, it tested at over 200 degrees internally, and going back to my cake baking days, the toothpick I inserted came out clean. So out came the panettone, off went the oven, and I trotted up to bed!
This is what it looked like on Christmas morning. You can see that it really didn’t rise very well at all. . . but it did rise a little bit. So I cut into it and was pleasantly surprised!
I’m sure it should have been fluffier, but it was really tasty! I ended up sharing it with my family and they liked it as well.
I’m going to try it again, but before I do I need a proofer. But I will try again, noting what I did wrong and what I can do better!