If you traveled to Italy in November, December then you probably noticed those huge cakes in all the shops and cafes. As one Italian commented on my Insta story “it’s far more than just a cake”. Well, yes it’s a beautiful tradition and actually to make a traditional Panettone can take a few days. Also, Panettone is an acceptable gift to take when visiting someone during the Christmas period. I think it’s a beautiful thing to bake something and bring it as a gift, less and fewer people do that, but this gesture shows that person put the most valuable thing to this gift which is time.
The traditional Italian Christmas cake birth city is Milan and how it became a traditional dessert there are several legends. The most popular is that during an event of Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, the planned dessert was burnt and Toni saved the event by creating a cake from everything that he had in his pantry: a piece of leavened dough, butter, flour, raisins, almonds. That’s why the cake is named “Pan del Toni” (Tony’s Bread). Another is a legend is about a boy who wanted to impress Algrisa, a wonderful daughter of a baker.
Panettone is fluffy and light, studded with raisins, citron and also candied oranges, it is awaited tradition to many Italian family tables.
This recipe which I share is a quicker version for a Panettone, a traditional Panettone can take to make few days.
Recipe of Panettone, Traditional Italian Christmas cake
- 4 tbsp milk (warm)
- 14 g (2 x 7) packets of fast action dried yeast
- 100 g caster sugar
- 250 g softened butter
- 5 medium eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Grated zest of orange
- Grated zest of lemon
- 500 g white flour
- 80 g raisins
- 80 g sultanas
- 3 tbsp dark rum
- 100 g candied orange and lemon peel, roughly chopped
For the topping:
- Grease a 20 cm cake tin or even better would be to use Panettone cake case.
- Mix warm milk, the yeast, sugar and leave for a few minutes.
- In a large bowl, put the remaining sugar and beat it together with butter and vanilla extract, until you’ll get a creamy mixture.
- Add orange and lemon zest and then also add eggs one by one. If you see that the mixture starts to curdle then add a tablespoon of flour to the bowl. Stir everything together.
- Place the flour in another bowl and mix it with a pinch of salt. Make a well in the center where you will pour yeast mixture and after also butter and eggs mixture. Take a big spoon and make a soft dough by folding your mixture. Knead it for about 5 min until it starts to come together.
- On to a floured surface turn out the dough and knead it for 10 more minutes, after that you should get a soft and stretchy dough. To stop your dough from sticking to your hands and surface sprinkle a little bit of flour, but not too much. Then, add your dough to a greased bowl, don’t forget to cover it and then leave it in a warm place for about 2 hours, it has to become double the size it was before.
- Add the sultanas and raisins in a saucepan with the rum and gently heat it for about 5 minutes until these fruits have absorbed the liquid and became plump and juicy. Cool it.
- When the dough is ready then tip it out onto a floured surface and knead again for about 5 min. Then, knead it with soaked sultanas, raisins and chopped candied peel. Shape your dough into a ball and put it to a prepared tin or cake case. Don’t forget that when you’ll bake it the cake will rise more so cover your tin properly.
- Preheat your oven for about 160 – 180 °C, it’s really important to adjust the oven shelf to the right height. Mix together the almonds, egg white, and caster sugar and gently brush over the top of the cake. Bake Panettone for about 40 – 50 minutes until it rises and gets golden. Leave to cool completely before serving.