Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Baking: Cranberry-Orange Panettone

A very unwelcome and despised visitor suddenly barged into our home, throwing off my baking schedule and rendering both my husband and I to worthless lumps on the couch. I woke up with a stomach bug on Monday morning and spent the majority of the day with my head deep inside our toilet seat. Luckily, Paul was able to come home from work and relieve me from Matthew duty, allowing me the luxury of sleeping off the illness. Later that evening, Paul started running a high fever and developed a nasty, full-body cough that thunders throughout the entire household, shaking furniture and forging new cracks in the walls (at least that's the way he would describe it). Matthew, thankfully, has been spared and is just as hyper and playful as ever - although quite angered at his parents' lack of energy. We are all finally starting to feel better and were able to finish off a few errands today that we needed to get done before Christmas Eve. Hopefully, we'll all be back to normal in time for Christmas Day.

This Christmas bread is a particular favorite of Paul's. I read an article about Panettone in a magazine shortly before the holiday season during our first year of marriage. The article described Panettone as the Italian answer to American fruitcake. Unlike fruitcake, Panettone is a popular and beloved Christmas bread and is more cake-like in structure and complex in flavor then its American cousin. It is baked in a specially designed mold that enables the cake to rise into a high dome. For my inaugural attempt at baking Panettone, I lacked the proper mold for baking and substitute a metal coffee container which I lined with parchment. It worked beautifully, but I have since purchased the molds from King Arthur Flour and they work even better (and look much prettier). Either way, this bread is delicious - so much so, that Paul almost had a heart attack when, in my sickened state, I told him that I did not think I was going to be able to pull myself together in time to bake it this year.

Nice thing about stomach flu, it leaves fairly quickly. This was baked in a jiffy (luckily we had already candied all our oranges).

I used a quicker version of this bread this year (mainly due to my laziness). It is less complex than the one I normally use. In this version, you mix up the dough, let it have an intial first rise for a couple hours on the counter-top and then pop it into the fridge for up to five days (the longer the better). Then, you just divide the batter between your molds, let it rise a bit more, and bake!

Super easy and super delicious.

Cranberry-Orange Panettone
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup finely diced candied orange peel (recipe below)
Egg Glaze (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk)
Coarse Sugar (for sprinkling on top of the loaf before baking)

Either by hand or using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, mix yeast, salt, honey, eggs, melted butter, extracts and zest with the water. Mix in flour and dried fruit without kneading. You may need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine. The dough will be loose, but will firm up when chilled (don’t try to use it without chilling).

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

Refrigerate the dough in a non-airtight lidded container and use over the next 5 days.

On baking day, grease a panettone mold with butter.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and divide into three, even-sized pieces. Dust each piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Place the ball into the pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough.

Loosely cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the middle.

Remove the plastic wrap and brush the Panettone with egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 50-55 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped (or until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees). The amount of dough and baking times will vary depending on pan size. If the top appears to be getting too browned, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing or eating. When ready to serve, pour lemon glaze over each slice (powdered sugar plus lemon juice whisked to desired consistency).

Candied Orange Peel

6 Valencia or navel oranges

4 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling

1 1/2 cups water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. (Test kitchen liked the texture of a 3 time blanch best, it also mellowed the bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (If you took the sugar's temperature with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for ice tea.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack, for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.


  1. Should there really be 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt in this bread, or did you mean 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt?

    1. Nope - it's 1 1/2 tablespoons. Look at the amount of flour called for in the recipe. This recipe makes a lot of dough!

    2. I know it sounds like a lot but don't worry!! The end product is not salty!!