It is lovely just sliced and slathered with butter. But it is also nice toasted or made into a bread pudding. I have always heard that it cannot be made properly outside Italy. And that may be so. I have never eaten a panettone that was made anywhere but Italy.
When I found these panettone forms in the cooking store, it challenged me to give it a try. I have used raisins, dried cranberries and some candied ginger in the place of citron.
American Style Panettone
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cool water
1/16 t instant yeast
3 large eggs
1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into about 10 chunks
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
5 t instant yeast
1 1/2 t salt
2 t vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 t Fiori di Sicilia , to taste
1 1/2 c dried fruit, chopped if large
1. Make the biga by combining the flour, water and yeast, kneading briefly to make a stiff dough; if you are using a bread machine, allow the dough to knead for 5 minutes then cancel the machine.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise overnight, about 12 hours. It will become bubbly.
3. To make the dough, in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in the pan of your bread machine), combine all of the ingredients except the dried fruit. This dough is very difficult to make by hand so it is suggested to use a machine. If you are making this by hand, then mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter or work in with your fingers, until it reaches a fine meal consistendy. Lighty beat the eggs with the liquid flavourings and add to dry ingredients. Add biga.
4. If kneading by hand, it will take 30 - 50 minutes. Do not add more flour even if it appears to be too sticky. As you continue to knead it will come together. I find it best to knead it in a bowl rather than on the counter top. If using a bread machine, put it on the dough cycle. If using a stand mixer with paddle, then stop occasionally to scrape down the sides. The dough will be quite sticky.
5. Let rest for an hour.
6. Add dried fruits and knead until just incorporated. Too much kneading will release the sugars from the fruits and this will interfere with the yeast and rising.
7. Form into a ball and place in a panettone form. Set aside in a warm place for 2 hours to rise. It may not double but that is all right.
8. Bake in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer inserted in the middle. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. You may have to cover the cake with tin foil to prevent over browning. You can also check doneness with an instant read thermometer. The internal temperature of the bread should be 190-205F.