ITALIAN PANETTONE !!!!Well, dear Friends, as Christmas is galloping, why not drop for once your beloved fruitcake and treat yourself in the Italian way for a change? Why not abandoning your terrible, unhealthy fattening Christmas pudding for an italian calories' bomb ?
Italian panettone !!!but before sinning, let's work with a bit of History, but the history we like .................... ...Milan, late 1400's, Ludovico il Moro, Lord of Milan, is busy in one of the large rooms of his castle behind his thoughts about the ways of improving his power over other Italian states. " Should I move my troops or send my valuable young family members for weddings ? How the Pope Alexander the Vith – the Borgia, father of Lucretia - is going to take my moves ?" While he is staring at the blazing fire considering the various options, a gentle knock followed by a soft sound of paces captures his attention. " Ah, Leonardo, proprio voi volevo vedere !!! You are coming just right, I wanted to ask you how the construction of the new canals' system across the city is proceeding. You know, we may need it quick for defense if something goes wrong " Leonardo da Vinci since already some years had accepted the invitation of Ludovico to live and work in Milan. " Mio Signore, my Lord, here are all sketches of what my plans are ........" Only the white long hair betrays the age of Leonardo, still a man in full command of his body and with drilling eyes which show how reactive is his mind. " ......Please, let's approach your desk and let me show you these papers ... " and using Moro's stylet and pistol as paperweights, Leonardo starts his briefing. Outside those windows, an entire city - Milan, one of the main in Europe - is slowly preparing for another foggy night at the start of the winter........ As every other night,..... Ugo left his room through the window and entered the dumpy cold of Milan. Easily he stepped over the rail of his balcony and landed in his garden. The dogs started barking,but he didn’t care and with a run crossed the whole garden until the opposite wall. He stopped a few moments to regain breath and to check if any light had appeared in the palace. No, every window remained black, even dogs calmed down : also tonight nobody discovered his move. Grasping some uneven bricks, he climbed the wall that separated the imposing property that his father Giacomo degli Antellani received from the Lord of Milan - Ludovico il Moro - , from the Milan of the poor, where humble families lead the daily struggle with hard life, where simple shops provided meager food and goods for the majority of the people. Suddenly the moon disappeared behind a thick line of clouds, and this would have covered his run through the many yards up to to Toni’s shop, the bakery, where – as many other nights before – he would have met his beloved Adalgisa. This love to Toni’s beautiful daughter, had to remain secret, as his family would have never accepted a commoner in the palace. Unfortunately, in the last weeks things were turning hard : Adalgisa was overworked, exhausted. Toni’s helper was sick and Toni alone couldn’t manage the whole heavy work, therefore it had to be Adalgisa with extra effort to fill the gap, there was so much to knead, bake and clean. Not to miss any moment with his beloved Adalgisa, Ugo dressed himself in poor clothes – he, the Moro’s falconer - and decided to introduced himself to Toni, pretending to be a poor boy searching for a job. In spite of Ugo’s great efforts, business by Toni worsened, a new bakery opened down the road, attracting some of the already rare customers. A new move had to be found, and Ugo with the youth’s foolhardiness, stole and sold a splendid couple of falcons of the Moro and with the revenue bought butter. That night, while kneading the usual ingredients he added butter. The following day the shop was invaded by customers claiming that bread as the best in town. Few days later, 2 more falcons were sacrificed to buy more butter and also some sugar as new ingredient. Milan was simply crazy for Toni’s special bread and with this improvement Ugo was looking at his future with Adalgisa with more confidence. As winter was well on his way, just before Christmas he decided to give the last touch at his special bread in adding eggs, candied lemon and raisin. All of Milan lined outside Toni’s shop to buy “ PANE di TONI ” = “PANETTONE“ ( Toni’s bread ) to celebrate Christmas day. Toni became rich and respected so that Ugo’s parents had nothing against Adalgisa social position and finally, as in every fairy tale, Ugo and Adalgisa married and lived happily together for their whole life.
Now, at work !!!!!!!
Let me tell you that PANETTONE is definitely one of the most complicated sweets you may bake in Italy !! In spite of the simple ingredients, some PANETTONE recipes may require up to 72 hrs not really because of the number of operations, but because according to the original recipe - that means different type of yeast - the risings have to be at least 3 with several hrs in between and only a part of the dough has to be treated. It's really painful !!
As a normal human being, at least at Christmas, I want to behave properly, therefore I'm going to illustrate an easy way to prepare PANETTONE, a way that drives me no mad and in peace with the rest of the world.
- 350 gr ( 0.75 Ib ) of (wheat) flour
- 120 gr ( 4.30 oz) of white sugar
- 120 gr ( 4.30 oz ) of butter
- 10 gr (3.50 oz ) of brewer’s yeast
- 3 egg’s yokes
- 4 gr ( 0.15 oz ) salt
- 150 gr ( 5.50 oz ) raisins
- 20 gr (7 oz ) candied orange
- 20 gr ( 7 oz ) candied lemon
- grated skin of 1 fresh lemon
- ( milk if used instead of water for kneading )
Prepare on your working table 75 gr ( 3 oz ) of flour and pour on it the yeast diluted in a bit of lukewarm water (milk) and knead it until it becomes a well blended dough.
Give it a round shape and with a knife make on top of it a cross incision ( it will help the rising ) and let it rest covered with a napkin for 15- 20 mins in a warm room .
Drop the raisins in some water for 10-15 mins.
Prepare now on the working table the rest of flour, in the centre of it pour butter ( gently melted – not fried !!! – in a pan ), salt, yokes, sugar, grate the skin of 1 lemon and and knead. When it becomes "manageable", add the dough you prepared before.
Work it for at least 5 mins, adding a bit of lukewarm water ( or milk ) if needed, until you reach a consistent, solid but elastic dough.
Rinse the raisins and add it along with the candied fruit ( and some dry almonds ) and give the last knead.
Find a baking mould of cylindrical shape ( the ideal should be about 8 inc. diameter on base and 8 inc. tall, even a pot, but in case you don't find it, even a regular cake mould will do, some Italian panettoni are shorter and larger ), butter it and place the dough.
Make again a cross incision on the top and drop a rich curl of butter where the 2 cuts meet.
Let it rise until it has doubled its size then place it in a hot oven ( as for any cake ) for 45 – 50 mins.
When the top turns into a nice brown color pick it out and let it cool.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CAUTION !!!! FOR ADULT SINNERS ONLY !!!
IF YOU ARE UNDER 16 AND / OR OVER 1 ST. ABOVE YOUR REGULAR WEIGHT, PLEASE OMIT THE FOLLOWING LINES AS THIS MAY SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH AND ABOVE ALL DEFINITELY UNDERMINE THE ALREADY FAINT SELF CONFIDENCE YOU MAY HAVE LEFT !!!!!!!!!!!!!
- 1 panettone of 1 kg ( 2,2 Ib)
- 600 gr ( 1.30 Ib ) of vanilla ice cream ( or even more flavours together )
- 100 gr ( 3.50 oz ) of mixed candied fruit
- half tumbler of good brandy ( Grand Marnier )
IMPORTANT NOTES !! : 1. This operation is to be made day before !!!!!! 2. The ingredients are for a full size panettone ( 1 kg = 2.2 Ib ), if you are treating the panettone of the original recipe just above, that could be a bit smaller, therefore check the final weight to apply (or reconsider ) the amount of ingredients hereby described.
Turn the panettone upside down, and cut carefully the bottom across with a long – sharp knife about 1 inch under the edge.
Place that disk aside.
Take out with a spoon or by hand a good quantity of the soft interior and place it in a bowl, making sure the exterior “ dome “ remains solidly intact.
Cut the candied fruit in small dice and mix them to the ice cream, then refill with this the hole you just made making sure there are no holes left inside, for this purpose you may reuse some of the soft part – sprinkled with Brandy or Grand Marnier -.
Replace the disk cut at the beginning, turn it up right on a plate and place it in the coldest part of refrigerator ( not FREEZER !!! ) for the night.
Take it out 1 – 2 hrs before eating.
FOR THE HOPLESS WHO CANNOT CARE LESS !!!
Before placing in the refrigerator, cover the stuffed panettone with fresh chocolate cream.
REMEMBER !!!! There are people on custody for much less than this !!!!!!
Musik during preparation : it will be about Christmas, right ??
Well, nothing better that J.S. BACH – MAGNIFICAT - Bach -
What about a good wine along with it ??
What a question !!! An Italian Panettone requires an Italian SPUMANTE !!!!
Sweet, white, sparkling dessert wine originally from Piedmont ( Turin ) but now produced in otherItalian regions.
It has to be served ice cold and possibly in large champagne glasses, about the size of Pauline Bonaparte breast !!!!
What's the story about it … ?? Next time …...!!!