Monday, December 20, 2010

Aunt Betty's Panettone, Italian Christmas Bread

Strufoli does make a handsome - and fun - centerpiece.

But, to be honest, it doesn't have much of an scent, especially after it's been coated in honey.
Nope.  
To add that "Welcome home" feeling to a family get together, nothing beats the aroma of fresh from the oven bread.

And, at Christmas, nothing beats Panettone.

There's a legend about Panettone.  
It was created in Milan by a young nobleman named Antonio, who was in love with a baker's daughter.  
So he went to work for the baker, whose business was failing.  Antonio added butter, sugar, candied fruit and eggs to the bread dough.  
People loved the new creation - "Pane di Toni" or Tony's bread. 


                        Panettone

Grease a deep round pan
Preheat oven to 375º 

Heat  to scalding
1 cup milk
Let it stand until it is lukewarm.
----
In a small mixing bowl, beat until creamy
1/2 cup butter (or margarine) softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
----
Pour into a warmed mixing bowl
1/4 cup warm water
Add
2 tablespoon active dry yeast
Stir until yeast is dissolved.
Add the milk and butter mixture and stir well.
----
Add
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
Beat until smooth.
----
Blend in
1/2 cup citron peel
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup mixed, diced candied fruits
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons ground anise
Add enough flour to make a soft dough
(about 2 cups). 

Turn out on a lightly floured surface and 
knead until dough is smooth and elastic.

Put in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough 
to coat it with oil.
Cover with a damp towel.
Let stand in a warm place away from drafts 
about 1 1/2 hours (until doubled in bulk).

Punch down the dough and turn out.
Cover with bowl and let rest 10 minutes.
Shape dough in a round loaf and
place in greased round pan.
Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour.
Cut an "X" in the top.
----
Combine
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
Brush over the loaf.
Bake 1 hour or until brown.

****
The dough can also be baked in 3 1-pound coffee cans.
Bake at 400º, about 40 minutes.
Perfect for small gifts.

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