What can I say about Panettone, except that it's the Italian Christmas dessert par excellence (for me Panettone is way way better than Pandoro)?! That I think that the scent could revive dead persons? That its softness could melt even the most hard-hearted?

No, I prefer to say that this year I wanted to allow myself this experiment, repeated twice: the first time I failed (a wrong and too long rising, which led to a very good Panettone, but drier than it should be),  while the second Panettone was phenomenal, also thanks to Morena from Menta e Cioccolato, this recipe's mom and the one who suggested me not to give up and who gave me some successful tips.

With this Panettone (which will cut itself by magic in exact the number of slices needed for all of you) I wish you to spend a happy and peaceful Christmas, reveling surrounded by your loved ones (I have to wish you something food-related). And I wish you that this Christmas will bring you everything that you want.

And, last but not least, I want to thank you all for your patience in reading my rigmarole, for the affection, attention and support I feel in your every comment and every e-mail. Thank you all and, sincerely, Merry Christmas.

… don't worry, now I leave you the recipe!
 

PANETTONE WITH BREWER'S YEAST

(Morena's recipe, from Menta e Cioccolato; look at her blog for intermediate pictures)

Total ingredients (for a Panettone weighing a kilo, mold 19 cm in diameter)

* 457 g strong flour (I used the Manitoba one)
* 63 g water
* 4 g fresh brewer's yeast
* 120 g sugar
* 47 g egg yolks
* 180 g whole eggs
* 100 g unsalted butter, softened
* 2 g panettone flavoring (or orange flavoring plus lemon flavoring; I used two 5 ml vials, a lemon one and an orange one)
* 1/3 vanilla bean
* 5 g salt
* 167 g raisins
* 67 g candied orange
* 33 g candied citron

NB: I kneaded by hand or, to facilitate the stringing, I used the hooks of my electric whisks.

Procedure (with ingredients of the different dough)

First dough, 11 AM (don't do like me and start before, but at least this way you'll understand the intervals between risings)

* 13 g water
* 2 g fresh brewer's yeast
* 0,6 g sugar (a pinch will work just fine)
* 20 g flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water, then add sugar and flour and knead. Put the dough in a bowl covered with cling film (so that the surface doesn't dry out) and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled (about an hour). I always let the dough to rise in the turned off oven with light turned on, and I got an excellent result… oven is a safe place (from air currents, for example).

Second dough, 12 AM

* Previous dough
* 7 g egg yolk
* 18 g water
* 37 g flour
* 3 g sugar

Knead everything together (I dissolved the previous dough in water and then I added the other ingredients) and put to rise in a bowl covered with cling film until doubled (about an hour). For the egg yolk, weigh what you need and store the remain in a little bowl covered with cling film in the refrigerator (you'll need it).

Third dough, 1:30 PM

* Previous dough
* 33 g water
* 7 g egg yolk
* 67 g flour
* 2 g fresh brewer's yeast
* 3 g sugar

Mix everything together (I followed the same procedure as before) and left the dough rise (about a couple of hours) in the same bowl covered in cling film.
 

Fourth dough, 4 PM

* Previous dough
* 333 g flour
* 33 g egg yolks
* 180 g whole eggs
* 113 g sugar
* 100 g unsalted butter, softened
* 2 g flavoring (orange and lemon)
* 1/3 vanilla bean
* 5 g salt
* 167 g raisins
* 67 g candied orange
* 33 g candied citron

Put the previous dough in a bowl with the whole eggs, the egg yolks, half the sugar and flour (keep 3 tablespoons aside) and knead until you have a homogeneous dough. Then add the remaining sugar and flavorings, kneading to stringing up the dough (I used the whisks, then I kneaded by hand, then again whisks and finally by hand).

Meanwhile, soak the raisins, scrape the seeds inside the vanilla bean and put them on the butter, so you won't waste them. Then add the softened butter little at a time (I did it in three times) and alternate it with a tablespoon of flour (wait for the absorption). Add the salt and continue kneading, stringing again (I used again hands-whisks-whip-whisks). Then add the candied fruit (chopped in little pieces. Here in Italy in the supermarkets you find them already chopped) and raising, squeezed and dried with a paper towel or a cloth. Knead everything together.

Make a ball with the dough and put it to rest, covered, on a lightly floured baking sheet for 30 to 40 minutes. Then put the dough into the cardboard mold, trying to reform a ball doing the pirlatura (put your hands with your palms facing each other as if you're about to applaud, place them on the sides of the ball… moving your hands forward and backward, try to round up the dough. Here you can see a video to understand what to do). Cover the mold with cling film and place the dough to rise until it reaches the edge, or just below (when I put it in the oven, the edges of my panettone were about two inches below the edge, while the central part was a little bit higher. This is my way to let you know that it grows during baking).

I put the dough into the mold at 5 PM. It took a little more than 5 hours to rise but, as Morena said, it might take a little less or a little more, it depends on the warmth (I recommend the turned off oven with the light on), the freshness of the yeast and other factors. Place the mold directly on the baking sheet, so that you won't have to move the panettone to put it in the oven.

11:30 PM

Take the cling film off so that the surface will dry out a little, than turn on the oven to 347° F (175° C).

12 PM

With a sharp non serrated knife greased with butter make a cross-shaped cut, put some butter in the cuts and bake for 50 minutes in a preheated oven, covering with aluminum foil if the panettone is becoming too brown. Check the cooking with a toothpick (or spaghetto), but don't lengthen the cooking time, otherwise the panettone will dry out (I left it two minutes in the turned off oven -but still warm- and it already became a bit dry).

Once you've taken it out from the oven, you have to let it cool upside down: you can pass a knitting needle from side to side (approximately 2 cm from the bottom) and then let it hang between two tall pots, or you can put it on a soft surface with air intakes (for example a colander on which you can place a soft cloth).
When it's cold (I suggest you to let it cool upside down at least 8 to 12 hours, for me overnight), wrap it in a plastic bag (I kept the cellophane from a store bought panettone, which is perfect) until you eat it, so it will stay soft, fragrant and scented.

I know, it's a long, laborious recipe (but not as difficult as it may sound), but it looks like a small Christmas miracle. And when you'll put on the table your hand-made panettone and you'll see everyone eat it happily, you'll be amply rewarded for all the effort and patience, and you'll have some satisfaction left for leaner times.

At the end of this long recipe, I wish you from the bottom of my heart a Merry Christmas, and may you never need this satisfaction supply, 'cause you'll already have enough of it.

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