with Tilly Sanchez-Turri
Biga or “Mother” (Overnight Starter)
3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 t. instant yeast
1/3 c. warm water
Stir the biga ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. The biga should be somewhat dry and stiff. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rest overnight for 8 to 12 hours. As the foundation of your dough, the biga adds complexity to the panettone’s flavour and is essential in creating the light, airy texture this sweet bread is known for. The biga will also help preserve your bread, extending its shelf life.
all of the biga
2-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c. water
2 large eggs
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1-1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla paste, or liquid vanilla
1/8 t. orange oil
1-1/2 T. instant yeast
1/3 c. sugar
2 paper panettone moulds and 4 bamboo skewers
Have ready but set aside in a bowl:
1/2 c. each candied chestnuts, slivered prunes, dried tart red cherries or cranberries and dried pineapple, chopped
zest from a large orange or lemon
Mix together all the dough ingredients – except the dried fruit and zest – and knead them by hand, mixer or bread machine until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. You’ll know when the dough is ready by its elasticity and almost silky appearance. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
Carefully poke 2 greased bamboo skewers horizontally on opposite sides of the bottom of each of the 2 paper panettone moulds. Place the moulds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
Gently deflate the risen dough and cut it in half. Add half of the fruit and zest mix to each portion of dough so it’s dispersed throughout, then shape each piece of dough into a ball. Place each ball into one of the ungreased panettone moulds. Cover each with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let the dough rise until just crested over the rim of the mould, about 1 hour. Half an hour before the dough has fully risen, preheat the oven to 400°F.
You can brush the top of the panettone with milk and sprinkle it with sugar or almonds. Most bakers simply make an X on top with a sharp knife blade and place a small pat of butter in it.
Bake the bread for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 375° and bake an additional 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake another 20 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly.
Remove the panettone from the oven and invert it into a stockpot or other large pot to cool – that’s what the bamboo skewers are all about. This helps prevent the panettone from collapsing. The panettone needs to cool for a minimum of three hours before it’s ready to cut into.
Makes two 6-inch panettone rounds.