Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas Bread Panetone

Another quiet Christmas on the farm with my daughter away. But the days that preceeded Christmas, I baked panetone, an Italian round tall bread filled with candied fruits and raisins or with chocolate chips. My first attempt was a disaster. I followed a recipe which required a long rise, two days of work, just to have all the top burned by tucking it into a too hot an oven. I used a wood fired oven, and I still don´t know what´s the right temperature for each dish. The second panetone was filled with chocolate chip and topped with ganache. They turned out very velvety, moist, and delicious. This time I used a regular gas oven. The third recipe I chose to fill it with dulce de leche (some kind of hard caramel). I made a mistake on the amount of butter and again, it was a failure. The bread didn´t rise properly while baking. But I still could give to my neighbors. But I was decided to make one great panetone, so again, I was mixing the ingredients when my mother had a seizure so I had to put the dough into the fridge to run to the hospital. When I got back home at 1:30 a.m., I didn´t feel like cooking. So I proceeded next day, turning out a good panetone. The panetones and the two loaves on the photo are from this batch. I gave to my friends as Christmas gifts. I felt as I had done a great accomplishment. But I was still not happy with sweet breads, and wanted to bake one more panetone, a savory one, filled with some kind of beef jerky, properly de-salted, cooked, shredded and cooked with onions. This time, it was a success. The recipe asked for dark beer, milk powder and even kummel, which I didn´t find in the market. So it went without it. Again, I gave one to each of my three farmer friends. Panetone dough is different from all other breads I have made before, as the dough is quite sticky, with high hydration. It is thicker than cake mix and wetter than bread dough. It also takes a lot of butter and egg yolks, a typical holiday bread. Panetone with its orange-butter-vanilla aroma, fruits, chocolate, caramel, rich dough is a feast in itself. It is a kind of bread we can´t go without. It is a symbol of Christmas which for me exhale beauty, abundance, generosity, and love.

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