Panettone – Holiday Fruitcake. Panettone (panetón in Spanish) is a sweet yeasted bread originally from Italy that has become one of the most important holiday traditions in South America. It’s a brioche dough filled with dried fruits and nuts and baked in round decorative paper molds. The dough rises several times, which develops the flavor and texture of the bread.
Panettone is traditionally enjoyed in Latin America on Christmas eve with hot chocolate. But it will make delicious toast and french toast the next morning, as well as fantastic bread pudding (if there’s any leftover). Panettones keep very well, and make excellent holiday gifts.
Panettone – Holiday Fruitcake
Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 13 hours
- 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons softened butter, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Make the sponge: Place 1 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons apricot jam, and 1 teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 3 hours.
- Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the sponge, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon yeast. Use the hook attachment to knead the dough until the mixture is smooth and stretchy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time, and knead until dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Return dough to the mixer, and add salt, vanilla, lemon and orange flavoring, honey, and 1 teaspoon yeast. Knead for 1 minute.
- Add 3 egg yolks and knead until incorporated. Add the 12 tablespoons of softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Knead until dough is soft, shiny and very stretchy, about 5 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Toss the chopped raisins, cherries and pecans with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add them to the dough and knead briefly, until just mixed in.
- Place dough in a oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place dough inside of a 6 inch diameter panettone mold, or use a clean, buttered coffee can lined with parchment paper. Make a small cross in the top of the dough with scissors.
- Let dough rise in a warm place until triple in size, which may take several hours since the dough is cold from the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Place the panettone in the oven, and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Bake the panettone for about 1 hour, until it has risen high and springs back a little when pressed on top (like a muffin).
- Let panettone cool in the pan on a rack.
- Make icing (optional): Melt 2 tablespoons butter, and whisk into 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 1-2 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle icing decoratively over top of panettone.
- Store panettone wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.
Note: Traditonal Italian panettones are made with a special flavoring called “fiori de sicila”, which you can purchase at gourmet stores and online. Use in place of the lemon and orange extract.