Gennaro’s traditional panettone
If you have ever wondered how to make your own Panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas cake, and you enjoy a challenge as well as have a day to spare, this recipe is for you.
There are many legends about how this cake originated and it appears that the ancient Romans would sweeten a dough-like cake with honey; it is said poor people would add a little dried fruit and sugar to bread dough as a Christmas treat. However, Panettone as we know it today, was born in Milan by pastry chefs Motta and Alemagna in the early 20th century. In recent years it has evolved with different flavourings of chocolate, liqueur cream and others, but I find the original one with dried fruit and candied peel the best. In Italy, Panettone is traditionally served with a glass of Spumante at the end of the Christmas meal, but it is equally delicious with dessert wine or simply a nice cup of espresso or even tea.
Soak sultanas in lukewarm water and rum and set aside.
Dissolve 10g of yeast together with the sugar in the milk. Place 100g of flour in a bowl, pour in the yeast mixture and work into a smooth dough. Form into a ball, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, until the dough doubles in size.
Remove the cling film and add two eggs, crumble in the remaining yeast, 180g of flour and mix well. Add 60g of sugar, 60g of butter and with your hands incorporate all the ingredients to a sticky dough. Form into a ball, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
Drain and squeeze excess liquid out of the sultanas and set aside.
Remove the cling film. Add two eggs, three yolks and the remaining flour and work well with your hands for 10 minutes – the dough will be quite sticky but continue to mix with your hands. Mix in the remaining sugar and the salt. Mix in 50g of butter until well amalgamated, then add the remaining butter. Add the candied peel, lemon zest, sultanas and vanilla. Mix well, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least 2 hours, until the mixture has doubled in size once more.
In the meantime, lightly grease and line the cake tin with parchment paper. Remove the dough mixture and place on a lightly floured work surface and work for a minute, place into the prepared tin, cover with cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours, until it has doubled in size again. Preheat the oven to 200C. With a small sharp knife, make a cross on the top and place a knob of butter in the middle. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 1 hour. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 190C. If you notice the top of the cake getting too dark too quickly, reduce the oven temperature to 180C.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin. Remove from the tin and allow to cool before serving.
500g 00 flour
12g fresh yeast
60ml milk, lukewarm
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon of rum
160g butter, softened at room temperature & a knob
3 egg yolks
40g candied peel
zest of 1 lemon
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
1 loose-bottomed Panettone tin, 18 cm in diameter and 10 cm high