I refreshed my lievito madre for a shot at a perfect panettone, one that levitates higher than the last effort. I also used Pivetti flour from Italy, a 14-percent strength Ambra flour made specifically for panettone and Viennoiserie. The whole process felt perfect and the flour did the job!
This is my first panettone of the year. Using last year's mold, I also went a bit short on dough amount. Saving resources may have prevented brilliance but the end result was still delicious. New molds and more dough next time to see what changes.
A few of my baker friends have been asking me how I get "the boom" in my panettone, namely its fluffy strands and consistency. Honestly, for me it's been a matter of experimentation. Where I've found success is focusing on the details; fermentation, temperatures, and mixing. For instance, adding sugar at the right time so you don't slow down wild yeast, that making for cakey rather then airy final product. Once that's covered you can start thinking about added flavors.
Since starting a classic "bagnetto lievito madre," I wanted to jump straight into trying a panettone. Once the mail delivered me molds along with some candied Sicilian fruit, I started refreshing my dough. Fermentation is key, as is the process of getting the right consistency and waiting for things to rise. Here's my first batch for the year. I'm more then pleased by the results - not your typical sweetened specimen. This was airy and moist.
My latest panettone was taken from the master of panettone, Francesco Elmi. It's made without commercial yeast. Its ingredients; lievito naturale, butter, citrus and raisins. Here I replaced the rasins with wonderfully spiced chocolate chips - a wonderful gift from spice master Lior Lev Secarz of La Boite . Thanks, Lior! Still need to tweak some issues, but oh so good.
Chestnuts in Panettone? In this Milanese sweet bread that is usually studded with raisins and candied citrus, that would be considered heresy for more orthodox traditionalists. Being somewhat a baking heretic, I seek flavors and textures that aren't always considered traditional. That is why considering how to make this panettone, I considered candied chestnuts.
But while chatting with my friend Domenico, he reminded me of castagnaccio, a chestnut flour cake. It's a delicacy once popular in the Appenine regions, from Emilia Romana, Piedmont, to Corsica where chestnuts grow. Often flavored with dried fruits, pine nuts, citrus, olive oil and rosemary, it's also known as "pattona," not far off from Panetto (small cake), root for panettone. So here I go, with my version with chestnut flour, combining flavors.
Chocolate panettone. Why not? I saw that such a bread had resulted in a prize for the Il Buco Alimentari baker Kamel Saci. I was determined to adapt his version. Mine was made with ginger, tonka bean, and no butter, just olive oil!
It's basically the same formula, I've used in the past. Only now I adjusted the flour component with some superberb Valrhona cocoa! I even made a glaze with some walnuts instead of almond meal. The flavor and crunch was nice, as suggested by my friend and fratello Michele Forgione! Felice 2014!
Yet another Panettone for the holiday. The other went fast. This loaf was baked substituting olive oil for butter. No difference so far as method. Just a bit less lipids, but probably a more perfumed and healthy option. Buon Natale!
Panettone is an enriched bread that I've played with over time. This year I got the strange notion to try a white trash version in a brown paper lunch bag. Not because I wanted to make fun of a grand sweet bread, but I didn't have molds and my dough needed a place to proof and bake! I got a half way decent version with natural leavening, but I think the texture (more like a cake crumb) had some issues with a slow ferment and the white trash bag having not enough insulation. The bottoms certainly got a bit darker then I wanted!
So I went back to the drawing board with a tested formula I'd used and got molds, the real ones! And alas a decent airy panettone fit for the season!