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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Baking Italian Panettone with your Sourdough Starter

It certainly isn't news to anyone that I have fallen in love with the delicious flavours added to my baked products since I started using my own home-grown sourdough starter as a raising agent. The problem is that the starter is alive and growing. This keeps me on my toes and I need to keep on baking if I don't want the starter to take over my life. I decided it was time for something a little foreign for today's baking experiment. I would try my hand at baking an Italian Panettone. This could easily be my favorite of all the attempts to date. Let me know what you think.

I took this recipe from one of my favourite recipe books and adjusted it only ever so slightly.

Start by adding 3 1/2 cups (3 1/2 x 250 ml) White Bread Flour and 2,5 ml salt to a mixing bowl. Mix well.
Option 1: If you are using instant dry yeast, instead of the sourdough starter, you should add a packet to the dry ingredients and mix it in.
Option 2: If you are using active dry yeast, you should add a packet to a little bit of the milk and 12,5 ml sugar. Allow it to develop for about 15 minutes and add it with the rest of the wet ingredients.

Add a cup of sourdough starter and 125 ml lukewarm milk to the dry ingredients.

Add two eggs to the bowl.

Mix everything together. If the dough is too dry to come together, add a little tepid water/milk.

Cover with a plastic and let it rest for a while to double in size.

Once it has risen, knock it back and add 2 more eggs and 75 ml sugar.

Mix everything well.

Now add 3/4 cup melted butter.

Mix it well until it forms an elastic dough. If it is too wet, keep adding a little bit of White Bread flour at a time until it has the required consistency.

Once it has formed a pliable ball that loosens from the bowl, it is ready.

Cover with plastic and allow to double in size in a warm dry place.

Prepare a round tin with non-stick spray. Cut a length of wax paper to fit around the sides of the tin. Fold the paper in half so that you have a strong double layer of paper that can withstand the pressure of the dough pressing against it, without spilling over.

Line the pan.

Once the dough has risen, you can knock it back. Coat your work surface with flour and place the dough on the surface.

Flatten the dough out.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of candied peel and 1/2 cup of raisins in the dough.

Knead this into the dough.

Put the dough in the pan and press it down to fill all the sides.

Cover with plastic and allow to double in size.

Melt a little bit of butter.

Once the dough is risen, brush the melted butter over the top.

Use a sharp knife to cut two intersecting grooves across the top. Stick it in a preheated oven at 180°C and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter once again. Bring the temperature in the oven down to 170°C and continue baking for another 45 minutes, or until done.

The panettone should sound hollow when you knock on it, if it is done. Remove from the oven.

Remove from the pan and leave on a wire rack to cool down. I brushed some sugar dissolved in milk over mine to give it that nice shiny top.

Dampen a clean tea towel and lay it on top of the hot bread to avoid a hard crust from forming.

Serve as soon as you can handle the bread without gloves. A little bit of butter, and perhaps even some marmalade, goes very well with this.

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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