I honestly don’t know what got into me. I think I had temporary insanity. When I saw that this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was Panettone, my brain immediately went to sourdough. And then when I saw that the recipe makes 3 loaves, I immediately thought, “Oh, I’ll just double the batch and give them as gifts to my friends”! Because taking 4 bags of flour and almost an entire freaking week to make the most complicated, fussy, precise bread you have ever made sounds like a good idea.
But I did it anyway. I spent several days prior reading all the information I could on making panettone, filled four whole pages with notes, and spent 1 whole day trying in vain to find panettone wrappers in my town (and then just ordered them from Amazon). Add another day to transform my 100% hydration starter into a 50% hydration, and another day to transform it to an Italian sweet starter (you have to change the acidity levels).
|Just hanging out!|
The list of ingredients is almost mind boggling (although, it really is only flour, water, starter, egg yolks and dried fruit), and the instructions take up several pages. It doesn’t seem technically hard, as long as you know your stages of gluten development and have the time to spare. The “hard part” comes in when your toddler insists on helping you, flour flies everywhere, and you have no idea if any single ingredient made it into the bowl in the correct quantity. I am fairly certain I did not reach the correct gluten stage, as things were all the sudden very messy and crazy in my kitchen. The first rise overnight was great. I got up early the next morning to get started, and had my molds, hanging apparatus and dough ready to go by 10 that morning. I nestled all the molds with towels and locked them in the bathroom (the warmest room in the house), and was sure they would ruse quickly. Everywhere I looked, I saw posts about sourdough panettone taking 12-19 hours to rise, but I am certain this was not going to happen to me.
|Not very pretty.|
One of my favorite quotes (from the super amazing show “Deadwood” that aired on HBO a while ago) is “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh” (gotta love Al Swearengen!). This quote applies perfectly to this situation, as 6, 10, 12 hours passed and my panettone dough was barely halfway up the molds. I decided to go to bed and checked on it regularly throughout the night – every two hours to be exact. Finally, by 7 the next morning two of my panettone were ready to go and the others didn’t look to be far off. I started baking them, two at a time, hoping that the others would finish proofing as I was baking. No such luck, though, and after nearly 24 hours of proofing, I decided they weren’t going to get any higher. And to add insult to injury, I got practically no oven spring during baking.
They are definitely not the classic high raised loaves you see, and they don’t even reach the top of the paper molds! The paper molds were another disappointment – they seemed to get greasy looking during the baking process – not the pretty paper I wanted to give gifts in at all! I knew I could not find corn flour for the glaze, so instead I used just egg whites with a smattering of cocoa powder whisked it. I did not like how it turned out at all, they got way too dark. So the next ones I just “X”‘d and put a pat of butter in. Didn’t really like how those looked, either, as they formed a kind of crater in the center.
I was not giving up, though, since I put a whole week into these little guys. When all else fails, there is nothing like a dusting of powdered sugar and a pretty little bow to make things seem much better. And even though these did not look like I wanted them to, they still had great taste and the texture was great, too! (disclaimer: I’ve never had panettone before this so I can’t compare it to the real thing. But I liked mine!) I haven’t quite decided yet if I want to try this again (someday) to perfect it, or if next time I will just take the shortcut and use active dry yeast. And no one I gave them to gives as commented on them, so I don’t really know if they liked them or not. Haha.
I am submitting this panettone to Yeastpotting, a wonderful weekly collection of all things yeasted and delicious! And, to make three birds with one stone, I am also going to submit this to Twelve Loaves, (whose theme this month was boozy bread, yum!) hosted by Cake Duchess, Creative Culinary and Life’s A Feast.
(only very slightly adapted from Wild Yeast)