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For the sponge:
300g strong bread flour
120g whole milk
20g fresh yeast or 3 tsp instant
50g caster sugar
1 whole egg
5g diastatic malt powder or malt syrup
50g unsalted butter, softened
For the main dough:
Step one:
sponge, from above
100g strong bread flour
3g (1 tsp) salt
2 egg yolks
seeds scraped from a vanilla pod
zest of 2 oranges
20g warm whole milk
Step two:
70g caster sugar, added in 5 or 6 goes
Step three:
80g unsalted butter, softened
Step four:
40g warm whole milk with a pinch of saffron strands (optional), added in 2 goes
For the dried fruit:
100g raisins or sultanas
50g candied orange peel
For the glaze:
80g caster sugar
2 tsp ground almonds
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp.fine cornmeal
1 tsp cocoa powder
30g egg whites
For the topping:
2 tbsp. icing sugar
2 tbsp. pearl sugar
whole blanched almonds


Makes 2 panettoni in 13cm paper cases or tins; or 1 large 20cm

Day 1 evening: prepare the sponge
Day 2 morning: make the dough, prove and shape
Day 2 midday: bake

Prepare the sponge in the evening before baking. Use a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment; you can mix by hand but it will be hard going. Mix all the sponge ingredients until combined, cover the bowl with cling film and leave it at warm room temperature overnight.

The next morning soak the raisins in a little hot water or warmed up limoncello or vin santo.

Add the ingredients for the first addition to the sponge and mix at low speed for 5 minutes and then at medium speed for another 3 minutes.

Continue at medium speed while you add the sugar in five or six goes; mix for 2 minutes after each addition. Continue after you’ve added all the sugar until the dough clears the sides and bottom of the bowl and almost passes the windowpane test.

Windowpane test: pull a little of the dough between your fingers and stretch until it’s almost see-through. If it doesn’t tear, that means the gluten is fully developed.

Add the butter and turn the mixer back on at low speed. Mix for 2 minutes, then up the speed to medium and continue for about 10 minutes until the butter is completely absorbed. Do another windowpane test: the dough should now form thin membrane without tearing. If not, mix for another 4-5 minutes.

Add the remaining milk in two goes, mixing until completely absorbed after each addition.

Drain the raisins. Add them in with the orange peel mixing at minimum speed, only until just about distributed in the dough. Transfer the dough into a buttered large shallow bowl or a plastic container, cover and leave in a warm room for an hour; stretching and folding every 20 minutes. To do that, butter your fingers lightly, grab the underside of the dough and fold the dough in three over itself along the length, like an envelope. Turn the container and do the same fold, stretching gently, in the opposite direction along the width. Cover and leave for another 20 minutes; then repeat the stretching, folding and 20 minute proving.

Turn the dough out onto buttered surface and divide in half with a dough scraper (or leave whole if baking one large). Gently push the dough portions with the scraper and your hand to form light balls. Leave them uncovered for 20 minutes.

If using paper cases, prepare them for hanging: pierce each case near the bottom with two thin wooden skewers to make kind of rails. You can also thread two lengths of kitchen string spaced evenly across the bottom.

If using a tin, do NOT butter it.

Tighten the rested dough into taut balls by cupping it with your hands and dragging gently over the work surface. Drop them into the cases, smooth side up. Prove in a warm place (electric oven set to 30-35C, if it keeps temperature well; or an airing cupboard) for 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours. When they have risen so the dome is level with the rim of the case and the sides are about 2cm below it, it’s ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5 – obviously remove the dough from the oven if you’ve been proving it there. If it’s in paper cases, you’re best off taking out the oven rack with panettoni on it and then load it back for baking – that way you’ll not disturb the dough.

Beat together all the ingredients of the glaze and spoon it in the centre of the dome(s) – it will spread all over. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, icing sugar or both and decorate with almonds arranged in the middle.

Bake for 30 minutes, lower the heat to 180C/350F after 20 minutes if the tops are browning too much. Leave the bread in the oven for 5 minutes after it’s switched off (10 in case of a large panettone).

Hang the panettoni immediately after they are out of the oven. If you have skewered paper cases, rest them between two piles of books; if using string, tie the ends to the backs of two chairs or a clothes rack. The tin can be turned upside down and the rim propped on three or four solid tumblers or mugs; space them out correctly beforehand.

Leave the panettone hanging for at least 5 hours or overnight. If you skipped the glazing, sprinkle it with icing sugar before cutting.

First published on on Mon, 8 December, 2014