Panettone – BBA Challenge bread 24

Panettone Collage

Regular readers may remember an earlier post where I expressed some trepidation about the BBA Panettone recipe. I’m not enamored of fruit and nut laden breads, and less so of fruit soaked in booze.

But I forged ahead because it was the next recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice and I’m here to bake the book, after all.

The Panettone recipe differs from previous celebration breads in the book in that the included fruit (golden raisins and candied fruit, or dried fruits of your choice) is soaked overnight in brandy, rum, or whiskey. It also incorporates a wild-yeast sponge, which is (I believe) the first use of a sourdough starter in the book.

So, dutifully and skeptically, the day before I was to make the bread, I mixed the sponge up out of sourdough starter, milk, and unbleached all-purpose flour, and set it aside to ferment for four hours before putting it to bed in the refrigerator. At the same time, I mixed up the dried fruit, poured  1/2 cup of run over it, and added lemon extract and Fiori di Sicilia. I had the Fiori di Sicilia on hand already after using it to make the King Arthur Flour Almond Cloud Cookie recipe and had fallen in love with its slightly flowery, slightly sweet flavor, and was happy to have another excuse to use it.

The next day, after removing the sponge from the refrigerator and allowing it to warm for an hour, I mixed the dough by combining all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, yeast, one egg and one yolk, and water. After those ingredients were incorporated, I rested the dough for 20 minutes and then proceeded to add a half a cup of butter and the soaked fruit mixture. Incorporating the butter and fruit took took several minutes, but eventually the dough was smooth and the fruit was distributed fairly evenly.

I turned the loaded dough out on the counter and began to knead it. After a few minutes, I began to incorporate slivered almonds, as the recipe instructed. The dough was bristling with additions, and I was doubtful that it would hold together, but with minimal additions of flour, it began to turn into a supple, smooth dough that was easy too knead.

After transferring the dough to an oiled bowl, I let it ferment for a couple of hours. When the dough had risen to about 1 1/2 times its original size, I divided the dough into two pieces, shaped each into a boule, and placed each into a paper pans. (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but I live not 15 minutes away from the King Arthur Flour store in Norwich, VT. This is a huge convenience/temptation for me. And a huge danger to my bank account.)

I let the dough rise again, for about two hours, until the loaves had doubled in size, and then I baked them for about an hour-and-a-half.

See step-by-step photos of this bread here.

I let then cool overnight, then sliced into one and had a taste. You know? It wasn’t half bad. I didn’t fall in love with it, but I could see how people might love it. Friends and family who tasted it said it was fine, but wasn’t at all like the Panettone they were used to, which I gather has a more brioche-like consistency and less going on in terms of numbers of additions.

Since I made this before Christmas, we put half in the freezer, intending to pull it out for the holidays, but that never happened. Now there’s a half a loaf of Panettone lurking in the freezer. I wonder how long it’s good for?


The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is a group of home bakers, scattered across the planet, focused on one goal: completing every recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, in order, and writing about our experience. Want to join us? Buy or borrow a copy of the book, open a big bag of flour, and plunge in!


  1. ap269 says:

    You can send that half loaf over to my house – my kids would love it! ;-). I’m so jealous you live within driving distance of King Arthur Flour – I’d have to take the plane to get there! But if I ever make it to VT or some bordering state, I’ll definitely go visit that store!

    1. grongar says:

      You definitely have to visit. That store is a baker’s paradise.

  2. gaaarp says:

    [Resisting temptation to ask if you want to split a package of parchment from KAF]….

    I was pleasantly surprised by the Pannetone. Most traditional holiday breads I’ve tried have left me unimpressed. I always think, “I suppose if you grew up eating this, your fond memories might overpower the blandness of this bread.” Needless to say, I didn’t have high expectations.

    In the end, I really liked it. Enough that I will likely make it this coming Christmas.

    1. grongar says:

      Phyl, I would split with you!

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