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Recipe for Panettone

Recipe for panettone bread.

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Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

Panettone

What makes this really special is the shape. If, like virtually all of us, you don't have a panettone pan (if you do, you probably got a recipe with it), you'll need to improvise a tall cylinder. The very best thing is what used to be a 2-pound coffee can (now marked 23 to 26 ounces), lined with parchment paper (or waxed paper or foil) as discussed in the recipe.

Next-best is a deep 5- to 6-inch-diameter baking dish, in which you set a cylinder of parchment paper, waxed paper or foil that sticks way up. You can just shape the dough into a rough loaf and bake it on a sheet, but where's "wow!" in that?

The kind and quantity of fruit and nuts are suggestions. Feel free to change them. Note that time is needed for soaking fruit and several risings of dough. Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection: Bread.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup snipped pieces of dried apricots
1 to 1-1/2 cups mixed candied fruit
1/3 cup anise-flavored liqueur or 1/3 cup water and 1/2 tsp. anise extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds and/or 1/2 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
two 1/4-ounce packets active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. plus 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
1-1/2 cups bread flour, divided
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
grated zest of 1 orange
2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

Preparation:

In a shallow dish soak the raisins, apricots and candied fruit in the liqueur, covering the dish but stirring through occasionally, at least 30 minutes or overnight. Toast the nuts in a frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to color and become fragrant, about 7 minutes. Pour them out of the pan and set aside.

Heat the milk in a saucepan or microwave--just until it is warm (100 to 115 degrees). Pour the warm milk and the 1/4 cup of warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast, then stir in the 1/2 tsp. of sugar. Wait about 5 minutes, until the yeast is foaming actively, then add 1/2 cup of the bread flour, stirring until smooth. Cover loosely and let stand 30 minutes.

Stir in the melted butter, the 1/2 cup of sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolks, orange zest and the remaining 1 cup of bread flour. Stir well. Add the all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until dough gathers and begins to pull away from the bowl.

Knead a few minutes on a floured board or in the bowl, adding flour if needed, until dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Wash and oil the bowl, turn the dough in the bowl to oil all over, cover loosely and set in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured board for a minute or so, then return it to the bowl for a second rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the panettone pans: The best choice is two empty 23- to 26-ounce coffee cans (the old "2 pound" size).

Grease the inside--careful of the underside of the rim--cut a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom, grease one side and set it in place, greased side up. Cut a sheet of parchment paper 8 inches wide--enough to stick up above the coffee can about 2 inches--and 18 inches long--long enough to completely line the side plus 2 inches of overlap. Grease one side and set in place, ungreased side against the can, and unwind it so it fits against the can. Paper-clip or pin the top so the paper is held at that diameter. Pull it out, fasten it at the bottom too, and put it back in.

Lacking coffee cans, look for something else cylindrical, oven-safe, 5 to 6 inches in diameter and deep--maybe a small souffle dish? What you find will probably be too shallow, so the parchment will have to stick up well above the top of it. Proceed as above, but fasten it in the middle in addition to the top and bottom. To strengthen the part above the dish, wrap a doubled sheet of foil around the outside and tie it with string near the top of the dish.

Drain the fruit, reserving the liquid. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, pat it into a large rectangle and sprinkle with half the fruit and half the nuts. Starting from a short side, roll the dough up and tuck the ends under. Pat the roll into a large rectangle again (flour the board again if necessary), sprinkle with the remaining fruit and nuts and roll up again. Knead a few times, turning exposed seams inside the ball of dough, and divide in two. Shape each half into a round-topped loaf a little smaller across than the prepared pans, pulling the top surface of each tight.

Put each ball into a prepared pan--make sure it's all the way to the bottom, not stuck on the paper--and let rise about 1-1/2 hours.

Lower an oven shelf to make room for the tall loaves and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make sure the risen dough in each pan has not caught on the bottom of the paper collar and lifted it. If it has, free the stuck place with a knife and fit the collar back down.

Cut an X in the tops if you like, then bake for 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake about 25 minutes more (longer if loaf is wider), until the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the loaves 5 minutes in the pans, then remove and set upright on racks.

Combine the reserved fruit liquid with water to total 1/4 cup. If it's gone, combine 2 tbsp. of anise liqueur and 2 tbsp. of water (or mix 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 tsp. anise extract). Put the liquid in a small saucepan and stir in the 3 tbsp. of sugar. Heat, stirring, just until the sugar dissolves. Brush the hot loaves all over, twice if there's enough liquid, and let stand to cool and dry completely. If keeping before serving (up to a week), wrap tightly in plastic or foil.

Slice thinly and serve--maybe with even more butter!

Makes 2 cylindrical, dome-topped loaves.

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