GBC Festive Feast #11 An Italian Festive Affair
One left to go after this! as always, do check out our earlier posts on desserts, or go all the way back to the beginning is the first you’ve heard of the 12 dishes. This is pudding number three, and it’s a return to Italy (nothing to to with ‘Nigellissima‘ we promise) after our salt cod starter last week.
If there is one festive dessert that seems to be taking on the British classics in a serious fight, its the Panettone. In my local supermarket, the size and range of selection for this Italian Christmas treat almost matches that of Christmas puddings and mince pies put together! It’s not just the Britain that has taken to it; it’s a staple of the Christmas dessert in many European countries and also has huge popularity in South America.
Its creation has become a point of fantastic myth in Italy, including one places in the court of Sforza in the 15th century;
‘It was Christmas and the court cook had no dessert to offer. So the guests were given a sweet bread baked by a mere kitchen boy, called Toni, which won general praise. Rather than steal the praise for himself, the cook congratulated his assistant and named it after him.’
Even if the actual creation of this dish was a bit more mundane, it’s still a fantastic dish to bring an Anglo-Italian end to a meal
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
50g/2oz caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets instant yeast
140ml/5fl oz warm milk
5 free-range eggs, at room temperature, plus extra for egg wash
250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
120g/4½oz dried cherries
120g/4½oz dried sultanas
120g/4½oz dried currants
100g/3½oz whole blanched almonds
1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk and the eggs into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.
2. Mix slowly for two minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 6-8 minutes until you have a soft dough.
3. Add the softened butter and mix for another 5-8 minutes. Remember to scrape down the bowl periodically to ensure that the dough mixes well. It will be very soft.
4. Add the dried fruit and nuts. Mix until all is incorporated.
5. Tip the dough into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill overnight until the dough has firmed up enough for you to able to shape it.
6. Prepare a 18cm/7in panettone tin by brushing the inside generously with melted butter.
7. Remove the panettone dough from the fridge.
8. Knock back the dough, shape into a ball and place into the tin.
9. Leave to prove at room temperature for a further 2-3 hours, until the dough just starts to dome over the top of the tin.
10. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
11. Brush the top of the panettone with egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and bake for a further 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Check the panettone periodically in case of oven hot spots. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough could brown too much before it is actually fully baked.
12. Remove the panettone from the tin immediately and allow to cool.