Panettone is the quintessential Milanese – and Italian - Christmas dessert: this dazzling leavened cake, decorated with orange peel, candied fruits and raisins, makes its appearance invariably every year during the Italian holiday season. It seems that panettone has its origins back in the Middle Ages, at the time of the Sforza family: the "Pan del Toni" was made for the first time by a kitchen boy – Toni - who worked at the court of Ludovico il Moro. Not having another dessert available and conscious of the risk he was taking, Toni served the court his own cake and it was a real success. Since then, the cake has come a long way, has spread throughout Italy and is also produced industrially. But would you like to compare the convenience of buying it at the supermarket, with the pleasure of making it at home? Well, let’s see how to do it ...
FIRST DAY Beat two egg yolks with 45 grams of sugar, then gradually add 85 ml of milk and yeast. Sift in 180g of flour and mix at medium speed for about 10 minutes. Add 45g of butter, combine well and transfer the dough to a large bowl greased with butter. Let it rest in a warm place for at least 10 hours, until the dough is tripled in size. SECOND DAY Mix together 25 ml of milk, 15g of sugar, honey, 2 eggs, malt and vanilla seeds. Beat everything together and add the salt towards the end. Add 90g flour and the previous day’s mixture, and mix everything well. Add the pieces of softened butter and combine well, and finally the candied fruit and raisins which have been soaked in warm water and then drained. Transfer everything into a large greased bowl and let stand for about 30 minutes. Shape into a smooth ball and transfer the dough into a large paper cup for holding panettone. Let it rise in a warm place until the dough has reached the edge of the mould (about 6 hours). Make a cross in the surface of the cake, place a knob of butter in the centre and bake at 200 °C for the first 10 minutes and 180 °C for the next 30-35 minutes. Check that it’s cooked and let it cool completely upside down on a cooling rack.
Put in the oven to bake only when the dough has risen to the edge of the casing. Make a cross on the centre of the dough and put a knob of butter in it