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What is Panettone?
Panettone is a Italian Christmas bread from Milan. Legend has it that it is the result of a pastry disaster that called for some quick thinking and creativity. The mistake turned to legend became know as Panettone.
The panettone we are talking about here is nothing like the stale, mass produced, boxed cakes you find in the department stores around town at Christmas.
These breads are made by hand, with the best ingredients, with lots of time for fermentation, and lots of love.
We start with the feeding of a natural mother which is a stiff dough that has developed into a wonderful natural yeast.
The mother is fed 3 times over 12 hours. Then some of it is put back for the next batch and the the first dough is made with the rest along with flour, butter, yolks and water. After a 12 hour fermentation at room temperature the final dough is made.
We take the first dough and add more flour, water, sugar, yolks, butter, honey, salt, soaked candied orange peel and golden raisins as well as other fruits and real vanilla.
The goal of the mixing method is to get all of these rich ingredients (which hinder dough development) mixed into the dough without sacrificing the development of the bread proteins and fibers that give the bread structure, lightness, and flavor.
As you see on the video you need to develop the bread well enough to stretch the dough to a paper thin window pain. If you go to far or don't follow the right steps an intuition you can over develop the dough and it turns to mush.
Thought we were finished, not yet. This rich beautiful dough now needs to rest, turned, rest, get divided, pre shaped by hand, shaped and placed into panettone molds and then let to proof for 12 hours.
After is proofed, garnished and baked it is turned upside down with special rods to keep it inverted while it cools. Even though the bread has enough structure to rise 4 to 5 times it's original height it dose not have enough to hold itself up once out of the oven. So we let it cool upside down while the proteins and fibers cool and get stronger and harder. After 6 to 12 hours the bread is bagged and boxed and ready to eat. The side benefit form this long procedure is that it will stay delicious for weeks.