“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning

PanettoneTraditional Panettone … the December Daring Bakers challenge sounded like music to my ears, only that I wasn’t sure at all that I would get to doing the challenge. The year end has been quite a roller coaster ride, at times frustrating and saddening. The events around the world make the heart heavy, yet the very thought of food means comfort.

Panettone 2Back from an early Christmas cum birthday party a few days ago, I bit into a sweet rum fruit cake that was part of the goodie bag. That old comforting feeling flooded my senses. Sure enough, I was soaking fruit the next morning. A quick Christmas fruit cake was sure to lift the spirits a bit…

Christmas Garam Masala Fruit CakeWith the fruit soaking, the challenge played on the mind since I knew the panettone also used fruit, not soaked though. Pannetone is a sweet yeasted Italian bread served at Christmas. It is characteristically tall. Mine wasn’t. I misjudged the tins a little {read quite a lot}.

The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

PanettoneI really pushed myself to begin the challenge. One look at the recipe and you will understand. It looked long and daunting. I began early in the morning. Thankfully the Thermomix did all the kneading in minutes. It was the ‘rises’ that took all day, and my panettones finally got ready late in the evening.

So how was the Panettone born? A beautiful bread with a romantic tale. Traditionally it is eaten by the Milanese but now it is available all through Italy and in many parts of the world. There are many stories and legends of the Panettone. The one recounted by Carol Field, whose recipe we use today, is that of a rich young Milanese noble who fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker whose name was Tony (Antonio). Panettone The nobleman wanted to marry the baker’s daughter so he ensured the baker had at his disposal the very best ingredients – eggs, butter, flour, candied orange peel, citron and sultanas. The baker created a wonderful bread which became known as pan di Tonio (Tony’s bread). The baker found his fame and fortune and the nobleman honorably married the baker’s daughter.

Panettone 3Well thanks to Tony and Marcellina, {and the author of the recipe, Carol Field, of course}, we have this delicious traditional Christmas favourite delighting our palettes today. Rich, buttery, brioche like, studded with raisins, candied peel, nuts {and dark  chocolate chips in the mini ones}, the Panettone is comforting and addictive.

PanettoneOf course I had no time to make a traditional panettone case, and sadly they are quite impossible to find in India. Mine were baked in parchment cases in 3 tiny cake tins. I made half a dozen in cupcake cases too.

PanettoneSo glad I made them. They were fabulous! I was unsure if the kids would eat them, given their love-hate relationship with fruit and nuts … but NOM NOM NOM were the words out of the daughters mouth. The first cupcakes vanished soon, followed by one small cake.

Panettone One bite of the Panettone took me back to the Dresden Stollen; a bread that had ‘stolen‘ my heart a few years ago. The Stollen is an amazing Christmas bread, one that can be made months in advance, and one that keeps really well. A traditional German holiday bread, the Dresden Stollen has yeast and quark as two of the key ingredients.

We also did a Stollen Bread Pudding with the Daring Bakers in December 2010; yet another amazing Christmas dessert. This year was getting very busy and my time management was rock bottom {so what’s new?}. The quintessential fruit cake was yet to be baked and it was already the 22rd!

Christmas CakeChristmas at home is never complete without Fruit Cake. I made a twist to my regular fruit cake this year with a Christmas Garam Masala Fruit Cake. YUM! That was what I originally cut and soaked fruit for. Then figured I could manage the Panettone too.

Panettone Lofty ambitions as Mr PAB decided to hit ER running a temperature of 105C on the coldest day of this year. We shivered with cold while he raged with high fever that took us to hospital. Nothing a drip and a few shots couldn’t fix … and I raced home to my beloved Panettone. Talk about dedication to baking!

PanettoneDon’t get daunted by the length of the recipe or the many ‘risings’ … or the amount of butter for that matter! This is good stuff, well worth the effort, and all the ‘risings’.

PanettoneI didn’t get as far as the baked traditional glaze the recipe offered. The Panettone looked good without it too, until the boy saw a picture I was looking at and asked why mine had no glaze. Talk about added pressure. PanettoneLow fat cream + raw powdered sugar + almond extract = good quick glaze. Good enough for some craisins and slivered pistachios to hang on to. Yummy as well!

Panettone I dressed the Panettone up in a collar of parchment paper with holes punched through, threading golden ribbon through. The little ones were baked in green Christmas cupcake liners that I placed in deep individual muffin tins like the ones you see in this Plum Fro Yo. The dough baked upwards quite nicely. I loved the way they came out.

Do stop by here and check out some the beautiful Panettone that the Daring Bakers have baked. Thank you Marcella for sharing the beautiful story and recipe with us. Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of  Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Before I go, I am happy to announce the winner for the giveaway of the beautiful retro scale and worktop saver from Zansaar. Put your hands together for Kajal @ For the Love of Food. Congratulations Kajal … will mail you soon! BTW, your blog is beautiful!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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