Panettone, the tall, cylindrical, fruit-filled sweet bread from Milan has become an essential part of the
Christmas season. You can make panettone two months in advance, wrap it tightly in heavy-duty foil
and freeze it. Since the bread making begins with a starter dough, or sponge, and requires a long
rising time, it is best to begin the process the evening before baking or early in the day. Also
remember that room temperatures and humidity can affect the rising of the dough, so your rising
times may be shorter or longer than the recipe states.
There are many variations of a romantic legend about the origins of panettone. Supposedly, there
was a Milanese baker named Toni who had a beautiful daughter. A young man who worked for Toni
wanted to marry this daughter. In an attempt to win the father's approval, the young man created a
special sweet bread filled with fruits and other rich ingredients. The bread made Toni's bakery
famous. People began to call the bread "pan ad Toni" or Toni's bread. Toni became wealthy and,
needless to say, allowed the young man to marry his daughter.
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 - 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup grappa, brandy, or orange liqueur
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3-1/2 to 4 cups flour
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped candied citron or orange peel
To make the starter dough or sponge, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water
in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir to make a very loose dough. Cover the
bowl with a towel of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 6
hours or overnight.
In another bowl, combine the raisins and liqueur, and let them soak for at least
6 hours or overnight.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla with the
paddle of an electric stand mixer. Drain the soaked raisins in a strainer set
over a bowl. Press on the raisins with a spoon to extract as much liquid as
possible. Set the raisins aside. Add the liquid to the egg mixture. Add the
starter dough and mix well.
Add 2 cups of the flour and blend the mixture well. Add another cup of flour and
mix to incorporate. A soft dough will begin to form. If you are using an electric
stand mixer, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. Knead the
dough with the dough hook for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
(You can also knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface.) Add more
flour if needed but you don't want the dough to be too dry. Removethe dough
from the mixer bowl and form it into a ball.
Butter a large bowl, place the dough in it and turn once to coat both sides with
the butter. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 5 to 6 hours in a
Butter and flour a panettone mold or other deep mold that is about 6 inches tall
and 7 inches wide. If you are using a paper panettone mold, there is no need to
Punch down the dough and transfer it onto a lightly floured surface. With your
hands, flatten the dough into a large rectangle. Evenly distribute the orange and
lemon zest, raisins, and citron over the dough. Fold the dough in half to
enclose the fruit and knead to distribute the fruit throughout the dough. Place
the dough in the prepared mold, cover with a towel, and let rise for 45-60
minutes in a warm place. The dough should rise to just below the top of the
mold. It will continue to rise during baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut an X in the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for 40-50 minutes or until
a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place the bread on a rack to
cool for 30 minutes before removing it from the mold. Be sure that the bread
has cooled completely before wrapping it for storage.
This recipe was edited and revised on 11/05/13