Il Panettone, il Paneˈtũ: in Milanese dialect. With "the" as an article. One of the symbols of my city, Milan. One of the Italian Christmas traditions I am so proud of. There is a battle in Italy between Pandoro, another Christmas cake from Verona, the city of Romeo and Giulietta, and our milanese Panettone. The first one is octagonal, plain, soft and simple, sprinkled with powdered sugar. The second one is round, has candied orange and citrus peel, "canditi" and raisins in the dough. I like them both but you can imagine the winner for me.
Panettone really means Christmas to me. I try to wait to eat my first slice on Christmas eve but this year I cheated, maybe because I needed to feel Christmas, to smell it, to taste it as never before.
Panettone is the smell of butter, orange, vanilla, the fluffy and airy texture that melts in your mouth.
Panettone is my grandfather, Walter, who was one of the biggest Panettone fan. He was bringing every year three big artisanal Panettone made by Pasticceria Marchesi, one for each daughter. At least one was gone by the end of the dinner.
Panettone is simply home.
The industrial ones are good but if you have tasted the artisanal ones well... you will notice the difference. Obviously, I couldn't find a fresh one in Knoxville so I thought about baking one. they say Panettone is one of the most challenging things. It takes 2 days. When I started seeing people making them at home I thought they were crazy. Such a long process, so complex. But this 2020 taught me a very good thing: patience. And maybe this was a good year to try.
I need to thank Frollemente for her incredible recipe of Panettone with liquid Sourdough (1:1:1). In theory all big leavened baked goods should be done with solid one, Pasta Madre. The whole process took about one day and a half. I started on Tuesday at 8am with the sourdough feeding and did 2 more about every 2 hours (till doubled). Tuesday at 8pm I did the first dough and proofed it at 28C overnight. It should have risen 3 times. The next morning it surprised me coming out of the jar. Around 10.30am I started with the second dough. I baked my Panettoni (2 500g ones) on Wednesday night.
I had very low expectations due to the complexity of the process but I was wrong. The result was incredible. It passed all tests: texture, smell and taste. I am very critical with myself but not this time. I really put lot of love in this Panettone and you can taste it.
What I will do differently next time?
Well... A lot of room for improvement as always.
I will buy molds for sure. Handmade ones are not very good at least for beginners. You can see dough coming out from the bottom too ahahahha.
I will make big ones (1kg) as small ones are gone in one day.
I will check the rise of my dough more often as you can see below the one on the right grew too much while I was grocery shopping and overflowed.
I wish you a Merry Christmas, full of love and happiness.
It will be a challenging one for many of us, including me, but still, enjoy it and spend it with your beloved if you are so lucky to have the possibility to do it.