My December recipe for our local paper, The Gisborne Herald, was inspired by the classic Italian dessert Zuccotto. I create the recipes and on the bottom of the page is an advertisement for a local Mediterranean delicatessen. Each month features a recipe using some ingredient available from the delicatessen. Occasionally I get very inspired by a recipe idea and get right through to the baking and making stage before I realise that none of the ingredients are available at the deli. When I get in my inspired mode, it is full charge ahead…… Sometimes it is back to the drawing board for a few tweaks, sometimes it is a whole recipe redesign.
A very basic description of Zuccotto is a dessert made with bread, ricotta and dried fruits & spices. The bread is enhanced (I could say soaked but it doesn’t get wet enough to be soaked, sprinkled would be better) with a sweet wine. As it is Christmas, I decided a Christmas themed Zuccotto sounded quite the ticket. And in researching Italy and Christmas, I came across Panettone. When I was reading up about Panettone, I noticed that while it is a bread gifted at Christmas time in Italy, it seemed that not a lot of people actually liked it. Instead of eating Panettone as bread, they tended to use (disguise??) it in recipes such as Zuccotto or a style of French toast (I like that – French toast made with Italian bread). Anyway, I hadn’t had the chance to try Panettone and it was too early for it to be available in any of our food shops in town. So the only choice was to attempt to make Panettone myself.
I scouted around for a recipe – there are many different techniques and even more variations in methods to making Panettone. Some are very complex and involve inserting sticks into the bread and inverting so it doesn’t collapse on itself – most likely much more authentic than what I ended up with below but I wanted something simple and doable. The recipe below makes a very tasty bread that is delicious with a little butter and honey. It keeps very well and makes a delicious Zuccotto. I have since purchased a professionally made Panettone so I can taste and see how mine measures up. The purchased panettone is the one in the paper wrapper.
I have loosely adapted my recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Panettone for the Holiday. If you click on the link, you will notice that their panettone looks the real deal. I “apple-ized” the recipe for the purposes of this blog and I substituted some of the flour for wholemeal flour. The first panettone I made using all plain flour and they turned out more like the “real” panettone than my panettone with wholemeal flour.
A couple of variables could have affected the rising of my wholemeal panettone:
- I used a new cooking spray and it isn’t as effective as the usual spay – the panettones stuck and had to be coerced out of the baking pans.
- I “rushed” the rising of the panettones as bed-o’clock was approaching and I was dead-tired on my feet.
- I forgot to sieve my flour before scooping therefore perhaps the flour quantity was too much (I usually weigh the flour but in this batch of panettone I “scooped”).
The photo below shows my panettone on the left with the purchased panettone on the right (how ever do people NOT like panettone I don’t know – it is delicious even without butter, honey, jam or chocolate spread). It’s a wet cold day today so I believe I might head back into the kitchen and spend a leisurely day making a second batch of the wholemeal panettone to perfect the method.
My Zuccotto recipe will be posted in a couple of days but in the meantime, if you like the idea of a Panettone made with a little wholemeal, some delicious dried apple chunks and a smattering of cinnamon, then try out the recipe below. Or head over to Artisan Bread in Five for their delicious looking authentic panettone. Note that this is an American site therefore 1 cup = 4.25 ounces or approximately 120.5g of flour which is less than a NZ cup of flour (125g as per Edmonds cookery book).
Homemade Apple & Cinnamon Wholemeal Panettone
187 ml (3/4 cup) lukewarm water
2 ¼ tsp granulated yeast
2 ¼ tsp salt
100 g honey (~ 60 ml honey)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
310 g (2 ½ cups) plain flour
125 g (1 cup) wholemeal flour
140 g (1 cup) mixed dried apple chunks
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
Mix water & yeast together and set aside to become frothy (about 10 minutes).
Combine melted butter and frothy yeast mixture with salt, honey, eggs, extract and zest. Whisk to combine.
Stir in flour, cinnamon & dried apple.
Cover loosely (not airtight) and set dough aside to rise (about 2 hours).
Refrigerate (not covered airtightly) for up to 5 days.
To bake the panettone:
Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into two equal portions (use a dusting of flour to assist with the sticky dough).
Shape dough into a nice round then place dough into greased deep cake tins (or panettone tin if you have one).
Cover with a clean tea-towel and set in a warm place to rise (double in size) – about 2-4 hours.
Bake at 190ºC for 20 minutes.
- Makes 2 good sized loaves
- If baking in Texas muffin tins, bake for 10 minutes.