This essence of Christmas originated in Milan and is a sweet bread traditionally baked in a large cylindrical dome that will be found in every Italian home during the Christmas season.
- 4 envelopes dry active yeast
- ½ lb pignoli (pine nuts)
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- 1 lb butter – unsalted, melted cooled
- ½ lb candied citron – whole
- 16 cups flour – sifted, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb currants
- 1 lb light bown sugar
- 6 eggs – large
- 2 ½ cups milk – not low fat
- extra butter – for greasing
NOTE: butter and milk should be heated to a simmer and then cooled to 105º
- In a bowl combine ½ cup warm water (app. 105-110º) with the yeast and sugar.
- Mix well and set aside until the yeast becomes frothy.
- In the meantime, finely dice the citron and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, sift together 14 cups of flour together with the salt.
- Make a well in the center of the flour, add the raisins, brown sugar, pignoli, diced citron and mix well.
- Add the yeast mixture, the butter cooled to 105º, 2 cups of the milk, cooled to 105º and the beaten eggs.
- Mix and knead until smooth and elastic, adding the remaining 2 cups of flour as needed. You should feel the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl as you are kneading.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled or buttered bowl, turning the ball to cover all.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place for about 3-5 hours until it as doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down.
- This recipe makes 4 medium size loaves. Depending on the size of the pan you are using, divide the dough accordingly. You may use, coffee tins, disposable round pans or even souffle pans.
- Shape the dough and tuck in the bottom.
- Tuck into your buttered pans, cover with plastic and place again in a draft-free warm place to double in size for a second time.
- Remove the wrap, brush with the remaining warmed milk.
- (Have the oven pre-heated to 350). Cut the top of the dough with scissors to make traditional X marks.
- Brush again with more warmed milk and bake for app. 60 – 90 minutes or until the loaves are a golden brown.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the panettone immediately.
- Transfer to a rack for a few hours to cool.
NOTE: If you are not fond of citron, substitute with pineapple and think about adding some dried cherries. The suggested baking time is based on 4 medium loaves. Adjust the time to the size of the pan that you are using. Panettone usually lasts for a good week. However, it freezes well if well wrapped.