Accounts of a woman returning from USA to her parents’ farm in Brazil after several years and starting over. Adventures, new discoveries, old recipes, some heartbreaks, and many lessons.
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.