Panttone is a fruit flecked buttery egg bread from Italy. Italians enjoy a slice of Panettone at Christmastime either for breakfast with coffee, as a mid-day snack or with a glass of Marsala wine after a meal. One year, my husband and I had the privilege of visiting Rome during Christmas and we actually witnessed hundreds of Italians walking the streets with Panettone in tow. I realized on that day how special this delightful bread fits into a holiday ritual and we have adopted it ourselves ever since.
Making Panettone is a two-step process beginning with a sponge. A sponge is a mixture of flour, warm milk and yeast that is combined together and provides lift to bread. After mixing and proofing (rising) the sponge, it is mixed into the base of the bread an the leavener.
Candied fruits are always a key component in good Panettone. I like to prepare my own candied orange peel, but for this recipe – we’ll go with the store-bought version for simplicity. Rum soaked raisins are a nice addition to the bread and offer holiday flavor which perks up dried fruit, so it’s ready for a warm place in the dough.
This recipe makes two-loaves of Pannetone, so you can enjoy one on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your family and friends. Every time I eat a slice of this bread at the holidays it takes me back to that chilly evening in Rome walking the streets with the locals.
2/3 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup flour
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons dark rum – divided
6 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dark raisins
2/3 cup candied orange peel
1/2 cup dried cherries
coarse or Swedish sugar, optional
(Makes 2 Loaves)
- For Sponge – In a measuring cup, combine warm milk and yeast, whisk. After 5 minutes the yeast should look foamy on top. In a small bowl, add flour and pour in yeast mixture, whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm dry place for 45 minutes.
- In a small bowl, add raisins and cherries. Pour 1 cup of rum over top, set aside.
- In a stand mixer or large bowl, mix butter, salt and sugar on high speed until light in color – 4 minutes.
- Add lemon zest, vanilla and 2 tablespoons rum. Mix on high for 1 minute and scrape down sides of bowl.
- Add eggs, two at a time alternating with flour on low speed. Pour in Sponge and mix on low for 2 minutes until incorporated.
- Strain rum soaked fruit, reserving rum for another use (eggnog?) and add to dough along with candied orange peel. Mix on low for 1 minute. Remove bowl from stand and mix by hand for 1 minute. Place dough in a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm dry place for 2 hours.
- Dump dough out onto floured counter top and dust top with flour. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Form dough into rounds (it will be a sticky situation) and place in a 2-quart pan or mold. You can also use a coffee can or paper liner too. Cover molds loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place (if your house is cool, you can place the loaves on top of a heating pad covered with a towel).
- Cut an X on top of each loaf and sprinkle with sugar. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread for 40-50 minutes until dark golden brown on top. Remove and let cool completely, at least 1 hour. Serve immediately or store at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap until ready to Enjoy!