Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alpha Bakers -- Golden Orange Panettone

Shortly after Christmas, someone brought a commercial panettone to my office. It was one of those breads in a box that line the top shelves and promotional racks of supermarkets everywhere, and that I rarely consider buying because they have candied peel in them and are stale. This one was not stale. This one was soft and delicious and I ate it by the fistful, ignoring whatever lunch I had brought. I put it down next to the Chocolate Cuddle Cake and laughed inwardly at the success of my decoy as I ate all the panettone. 
Then I checked the Alpha Bakers baking schedule. The next decoy was on me. Rose's version of panettone uses a biga (a stiff pre-ferment) to intensify the flavor of the dough. While this means starting the bake a few days earlier, it's anything but difficult to make. I'm pretty used to refrigerated rises and long baking runs from my various sourdough adventures (and in fact I baked my first sourdough in a while in tandem with the panettone), so as far as I'm concerned all went well. Then the mixing. These soft doughs really are so different when you have a strong mixer. Just throw it all in and whip, and no hour-long slow sighing over a knead. I had some candied orange peel left over from last year's fruitcake (that wasn't supposed to have candied orange peel in it), so in that went along with some dried prunes and dried cranberries. In retrospect, I wish I'd added some candied ginger as well. 
The only thing that was a little rushed for me was the bake itself--I was leaving for Boston the next day and had to get it done, well after midnight. Because of that, the final proofing was a little less thorough than I would have liked, and thus my cross on top wasn't pretty and the oven spring came close to a blowout. Inside, though, the crumb was consistent and light. There has been a lot of discussion about proper flours to use for some of the newer formulae in The Baking Bible. I take the flour suggestions as recommended and use my judgement, which is pretty well honed after years of bread baking. I don't always expect the exact same results that Rose predicts, but I appreciate knowing why she's made her choices and what the rationale behind each one is. Baking, like cooking, is a dialogue, and a participatory one. And panettone is delicious, although I don't really like candied orange peel and next time would probably leave it out. Then it's just basically brioche, I guess. I'm down for that. I think I've mentioned on this blog before that one of my favorite things ever is to sit down with a large loaf of squashy bakery challah and dip it into a bowl of milk. Brioche works too.

9 comments:

Rosa (Maggie) said...
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Rosa (Maggie) said...

Wow! Katya, your panettone looks wonderful and all those fruits to put in it must be tasty it looks delicious I would make it again this is a keeper lovely blog to.

Vicki said...

Yummmm, prunes! They get such a bad rap but are delicious. I like how you lined the baking pan. So that's what it takes, baking lots of bread to not be the least bit phased by panettone?! Delicious looking panettone you've got there.

HanaĆ¢ said...

Oooh candied ginger. Now that's a good idea! Like your cranberries/prune combo. Nice rise too!!

Patricia Reitz said...

Love it. I think I'll be adding dried cranberries to mine as well. Nice job!

phylliscaroline said...

I like the photo with the knife sticking out of the loaf - almost as gruesome as the black and blue pie!

faithy said...

Wow..you ate the entire loaf yourself? You must really like it a lot! :) I too like knife sticking out of the loaf..:)

Rosa (Maggie) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil cake lady said...

the photo of the knife stuck in the panettone looks very satisfying, in a strange way. candied ginger sounds like a great addition.