Ah, panettone, how I love thee. The scent of them, their ethereal fluffy light texture, the way they are simply shaped but complex and a true joy to eat. If you are thinking they are simply a sweet fruit bread, then rush out and buy yourself one from your local Italian deli or coffee shop. They truly are a sensorial delight from the moment you unwrap them until you eat it, overwhelmed by just how fabulous they are.
If however, you fall into the group of foodies who can’t bare dried fruit then you needn’t worry that you are destined to such a delectable treat as a panettone then you can indulge instead on all the texture, all that taste without the bits by making my recipe for pandoro. Or golden bread, as it is said to mean.
I am a huge fan of Dan Lepard’s panettone recipe as you can find online here. It’s every bit as wonderful as those you can buy wrapped in a large sheet of waxed paper or placed in a chic and elaborately decorated tin oozing with classic Italian style. As the first and only recipe I’ve ever used, it came as a huge surprise to me at the reams which have been written about how tricky it is to make – fraught with difficulties, not something a new baker should even contemplate until they’re more schooled in the ways of yeast.
I asked Dan via Twitter if he had a recipe for the panettone’s plain cousin, pandoro but alas he did not. He pointed me to Bakery Bits who sell the tins and extracts you’ll need, along with high-quality Italian flour as well as having a recipe for a sourdough pandoro on their blog. Researching pandoro, for all it is said to just be panettone without the bits (dried fruit and sometimes chocolate chips, which I do not care for) it seemed a sourdough approach is preferred or very elaborate methods for making it with a pre-ferment. Not one to be convinced that the more stages a recipe has, the finer the result it will give, I set about creating my own.
I’ve spoken of my fear of sourdough before now – I lack the commitment. A big, fuzzy and very hungry Hungry Hubby is all the unconditional love I can muster – a fussy tub of fermenting flour who spits out its dummy like Goldilocks if you feed it too much, too little instead of feeding it just enough is too much of a tempestuous little madame for me to have time for! But a poolish, now a poolish I can do. It deepens the flavour of your final bake without you needing to prepare it weeks in advance of wanting it, let alone having to wait an unspecified time for it to be “active” enough to rise your dough as well as flavour it.
My pandoro is great for a weekend baking project and it makes two loaves at once. It is traditionally baked in a deep star-shaped tin in comparison to the tall, straight-sided panettone tin and it is doubly festive as when you slice it and stack up the slices a little askew, you get a Christmas tree effect. Imagine it dusted with icing sugar and gracing your table on Christmas morn. It’s an excellent keeper too so it can be done ahead – I had it “open” as it were for a week and it didn’t lose any freshness, just keep it wrapped in cling in the bread bin.
I treated myself to the full kit from Bakery Bits (follow the link above to see it) which gives you the two tins and a selection of luxury products to use to make your own pandoro. You don’t need to buy all these fancy extracts, flours or powdered organic vanilla but I threw caution to the wind and splurged a little. Disappointed I was not. Their extracts are something else, they really give Nielsen-Massey a run for their money in the quality stakes and the Manitoba flour which is very finely milled and has a high gluten content, is superb for producing these tall, sweet yeasted breads which benefit from a little more support as they prove.
I was very impressed with the osmotolerant yeast too which seems to turbocharge the prove to the extent I had to punch the dough down twice as it chilled overnight to prevent it erupting over the sides of my bowl! And it doesn’t inhibit the rise the next day when you take it out to come to room temp, shape and prove for a final time. It’s produced to tolerate more osmotically active doughs with a higher sugar content than most bakes and so far, it’s the first yeast I’ve used since Doves Farm’s to make me consider swapping brands. By the way, I’m just wittering on as I am super impressed with this kit – Bakery Bits didn’t ask me to blog about it!
The final product is a sweet orange and lemon scented bread that almost approaches cake in texture with a vanillary back note to the citrus. The crumb has small but irregular air holes which is owed to the addition of the melted white chocolate which also helps with the shelf life of this pandoro, along with the sugar in the recipe. It’s perfect for breakfast, a mid-morning snack or an afternoon pick me up with some freshly ground coffee. I may have slathered one piece with Nutella, rumour has it.
Homemade curds or jams would be lovely adjuncts but in all honesty, no matter how many serving suggestions I read about, all I want you to do to my pandoro for me is sprinkle with icing sugar liberally then slice it. No embellishments are required. If you do have any left as it stales, it makes a very decadent french toast or bread and butter pudding. The crumbs for this year’s Christmas pudding came from the very last of one loaf and I urge you to consider making your stuffing with some too. And seeing as this recipe makes two loaves, why not wrap one in a large piece of florist’s cellophane and gift it to someone special? If you can bear to part with it that is.
- 750 g strong bread flour tipo 0 or 00 flour
- 1/8 tsp and 14g yeast
- 100 g soft butter
- 100 g white chocolate
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 whole eggs
- 150 g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp Arancio Calabria extract or zest of 2 oranges
- Zest of a lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla powder or seeds from 1 pod 1 tsp extract at a push
- 125-150 ml milk
- 2 x 750g sized pandoro tins
Make the poolish. Weigh 100g of the flour into a large jug or bowl and weigh in 100g of cold water. Add in 1 tsp of the caster sugar and the 1/8 tsp yeast.
To prove the poolish, you can either use cold water and put it in a cool place to prove slowly, over approximately 6 hours or you can use warm and tuck it away somewhere cosy like the airing cupboard or boiler room to prove in 2 hours, giving you enough time to make the whole recipe in one day. The cold prove develops the flavour best but means you are likely to have a very long day baking or need to spread it out over two days.
Once the poolish is at least doubled, if not trebled in size and foamy, bubbly and very well aerated, start making your main dough.
Put the rest of the ingredients bar the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook on low, dribbling in the milk very, very slowly to ensure you don’t add too much. You want an ever so slightly sticky dough, not a gloopy mess but likewise be bold – a dry dough is not a good thing.
When everything has combined, add in your poolish then mix on low to medium speed for as long as it takes to get a soft, elastic, smooth dough which cleans the sides of the bowl. This may take 10-15 minutes and as there is a lot of dough, you may need to stop the mixer and push the dough back down into the bowl a few times to ensure the whole lot gets mixed adequately. You would need to be PopEye to do this by hand! Or just more energetic than me ;) …
When ready, pop in a greased bowl and cover with cling. Leave to prove until doubled in size. You can do this over night in the fridge but you will need to punch it down a couple of times to stop it clamouring out of the bowl! Again, the overnight prove maximises the flavour but don’t feel this is a must – proving it on the worktop is faster and using a poolish to begin with gives bags of flavour to the finished loaves.
If you do chill it, bring out to come to room temperature before proceeding to the next stage. Popping it in the airing cupboard/boiler room can hasten this process but check on it after 20-30 minutes to ensure it’s not trying to escape once again!
Once proved and warm if it had been chilled, butter your pandoro tins very well and divide the dough into two. Shape into two balls and place seem side down in the prepared pans. Now it’s time for the final prove – cover with cling and leave somewhere warm.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and when the dough has doubled in size bake for 35-40 minutes. They will rise a little more on baking and given all the eggs and sugar the crust will brown nicely so do be sure they are baked before removing from the oven – tap to see if they sound hollow, pierce with a skewer to ensure the centre isn’t doughy and also when you lift the tins up, they should feel light, not heavy.
Allow to cool briefly – 5 minutes should do – then unmould them. The tbs tend to not be nonstick so you need to get them out whilst warm or it will be hard to remove them. Finish cooling on the rack and when cool, dust liberally with icing sugar before slicing and serving.
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