January 19, 2015
That's a lovely loaf of bread, isn't it? I have to give 100% credit to Rose for this one, because I did nothing but follow directions. Well, in order to follow them, I had to read them 6 or 7 times, and the recipe for Golden Orange Panettone isn't exactly a page-turner. But I did eventually go from plowing through a bewildering muddle of words into understanding the plan. And I did order some items ahead of time, so there were no last-minute worries. And I have a large bottle of Boyajian orange oil, which I plan to bequeath to my daughters, so they can fight over who has to keep a bottle of orange oil in their kitchen until it's their turn to include it in their estate plans. Maybe I'll tell them they can use it to make cocktails. Maybe I'm right.
This is the biga, which you make about a week before you want the bread. If you are really freaked out about taking a week to make bread, you could easily adapt the recipe to cut out all the overnights, just by using more yeast. (You'll notice that there's less than one teaspoon yeast in this recipe, while other, faster recipes use 4 teaspoons or even more). But if a lot of the rising time is in the refrigerator, it's not going to matter much if it's in the refrigerator for two hours or two days. (This is my theory; Rose is no doubt more exacting.)
This is the flour mixture over the dough starter. The recipe warns you that "the dough starter will bubble through the flour blanket in places." I love this step because you can see how alive the starter is. If your mind runs that way, you may start to worry that the starter could overtake your house, but I think it usually doesn't.
At some point in this week of bread-making, you'll want to spend a few minutes getting the fruit ready. As long as you've already bought (or made!) the candied orange peel, this is easy. And a bit discombobulating. And I bought a little bottle of orange oil (that came in a great big box)--after I bought it I discovered that I need only 1/4 teaspoon of oil for the recipe.
I think if I remember, which is unlikely, I'm going to start using it as a substitute for grated orange peel, which one doesn't always have on hand, and which is not consistent in flavor anyway, ranging from bitter to tasteless.
Mix the dough. This is such a wonderful dough. Rose says it's smooth, shiny, soft, and sticky. That pretty much sums it up.
The fruit is sprinkled on top of the dough, which is then stretched and turned to enclose the raisins and oranges.
Then comes a lot of rising, pressing, turning, resting. I don't think I got pictures of every step, and I don't think it's important to document it all anyway. (Sorry, Woody). What's important is that it's such a joy to work with this dough. I think you could pat Panettone dough on your face and call it a facial--old-world tradition!! The secret to Italian women's flawless skin!! Sometimes I wish I didn't have so many stupid ideas and had just one or two good ones instead.
At the end of the second rising. As you can see, I did not use a plastic freezer bag. I feel guilty when I use plastic (although not rationally guilty since I used plastic wrap instead). Anyway, you can see how light and spongy it is.
It took at least 5 hours for it to rise in my not-very-warm kitchen to the top of the paper pan. I was beginning to wonder if I'd be able to go to bed Friday night, but I got it into the oven around 7:00.
I think it looks very beautiful, especially with the X on top, snipped in with a pair of small, sharp scissors. Almost done--just let it cool and wrap it, letting it mellow overnight.
I loved the texture, the color, the smell--everything about the bread. But I was going to serve it to about a dozen people--the real test. I wasn't sure that people would even be interested because of the unreasonable hatred that people seem to have for candied fruit. But as they walked in, they were impressed, especially as I drizzled on the chocolate sauce. And they all thought it was delicious, tender, and fresh-tasting.
Paper plates at this casual gathering. It would look even prettier on good china. The chocolate seemed like gilding the lily to me. My second-day toast with butter was much better, I thought (although it's such a rich bread you do have to take care that the edges don't burn). I'm surprised to hear myself say this, and I usually like the mix of chocolate and orange flavors, but in this case I thought the chocolate overpowered the delicate bread. Slice it, toast it, butter it generously--it's perfection for a midwinter breakfast or afternoon tea.