Panettone is a traditional Christmas bread sold all over Italy during the holidays and now, the world. It has a great origin story (which might be true!). A young nobleman by the name of Ughetto Atellani fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. In order to impress her, Ughetto disguised himself as a pastry chef’s apprentice in her father’s bakery. He creates a tall fruit studded bread to present to her father, calling it “Pan de Toni.” The bread, rich with eggs and butter, sweet with honey, scented with vanilla and lemon zest, with the finishing touch of dried and candied fruits was a success in the bakery and wins the admiration of the lady and the father’s respect. The baker blesses the marriage and Ughetto marries the daughter.
Today this sweet loaf is no longer just for Christmas, appearing at other holidays throughout the year and served sliced and toasted for brunch and as a dessert with a selection of cheeses and sweet wines. The traditional method for making panettone was done over the course of several days, and included long sessions of kneading and allowed for up to 20 hours of rise time in order to create a flavor that is both sweet, but also has a complexity caused by the fermentation of the dough. In today’s recipe, you can get these great flavors without having to labor over it quite so much. Although you can bake the bread after only a few hours of refrigeration, if you let it sit for 24 hours it’ll develop its full flavor and will be easier to work with.(more…)