I don’t know any Italians who bake their own panettone, but if you are living a long way from Italy and don’t see mountains of readymade cakes in your local supermarket, here is a panettone recipe that works.
Panettone is an incredible light yeast cake, and as such a contradiction in terms. It is almost impossible to achieve the kind of weightlessness marking the best industrial products. But with the right kind of flour and a preparation stretching over several days I’ve manage to produce a passable panettone that tastes as good as any even though it looks a little clumsy. The flour I’ve used is Manitoba also marketed as ‘farine magiche’ in Italy due to its rising strength, which is supposed to be 50% higher than ordinary flour. If you can’t find Manitoba flour, you can use another kind of flour with a protein content of 15.5 per cent.
For the mother dough
25 g yeast
50 ml lukewarm water
1 tbsp sugar
60 g Manitoba flour
For the panettone batter
1 portion of mother dough
50 g butter
5 egg yolks
100 g sugar
A pinch of salt
100 g raisins
100 g succade
100 g candied orange peel in cubes
1 tsp vanilla sugar
250 ml water
340 g flour
Start making the mother dough three days before you intend to bake the panettone.
Crumble the yeast into lukewarm water and stir to make it dissolve.
Add sugar and flour and stir with an electric mixer.
Cover the mother dough with film or a wet tea towel, and leave it in the fridge or in a cold room overnight.
The next day you mix another 100 ml water and 140 g flour into the dough.
Cover the dough with film or a wet tea towel, and leave it in the fridge or in a cold room overnight.
The third day you mix another 150 ml water and 200 g flour into the dough.
Cover the dough with film or a wet tea towel and let it to rise to double size.
Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
After the last fermentation the dough is stirred with melted butter, sugar and egg yolks, a pinch of salt, raisins and candied fruit.
Line a springform pan (preferable 6 inch) with baking paper unless you’ve got a panettone paper mold. (You can also bake doll sized panettone in muffin molds, like those in the picture below. That way, they rise better and look more authentic).
Pour the batter into the pan/mold and let it rise for about an hour at room temperature.
Heat up the oven to 200 C / 392 F and bake the panettone for 1 hour. Cover it with foil if the surface becomes too dark. The panettone is done when you can insert a needle in the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for half an hour before you remove the springform pan and the baking paper.