Grandma DiLaura's Panettone

By • December 12, 2012 • 19 Comments

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Author Notes: We don’t deviate much from the past when it comes to the DiLaura Christmas morning menu. Since my earliest memories of Santa Claus and pink bikes with baskets, Christmas morning always starts with a buttered slice of my Grandma DiLaura’s toasted panettone. The smell of sweet anise wafting from downstairs is a sign that ‘ole St. Nick has done his job. This family edible heirloom originated in the late 1800s in Florence and was passed down through word of mouth, until my grandmother finally jotted down the ingredients. Once a year she pulled out her big wooden spoon and lovingly made a generous batch by hand, sharing a loaf with family and friends – a true symbol of Christmas. cdilaura

Makes 16 pounds of bread (about 8 loaves)

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups sugar, plus 1/4 cup for yeast
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening (or use all butter)
  • 1 teaspoon anise oil (if you can't find oil, substitute 4 teaspoons anise extract)
  • 9 packets non-instant yeast
  • 5 pounds all-purpose flour, plus 5 cups (plus 4-5 more cups for kneading)
  • 6 teaspoons salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 15 ounces golden raisins (soaked in hot water to plump if dry)
  • 30 ounces dark raisins (soaked in hot water to plump if dry)
  • 1/2 pound pine nuts
  • 1 egg yolk, plus 1 tablespoon water for brushing tops
  1. In a medium saucepan, scald milk with 4 cups sugar, stirring often. Then add butter and shortening (or all butter), and melt, stirring often.
  2. Remove from the stove and add anise oil or extract to milk/butter/sugar mixture. Let cool slightly.
  3. Dissolve yeast and 1/4 cup sugar in enough warm water to cover (1 1/2 to 2 cups) and let double in volume.
  4. In a large bowl, mix 5lbs, plus 5 cups flour and salt. Add raisins and pine nuts.
  5. Add slightly cooled milk to flour mixture. Add eggs and mix together with large wooden spoon. Add yeast mixture and mix well. Grease your hands and mix and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes in the bowl (adding 4 to 5 cups flour as needed). Dough will be very sticky.
  6. Grease sides of bowl, cover with plastic wrap and towels, and let dough rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled.
  7. Grease loaf pans -- we use four large (9 5/8 x 5 1/4 x 2 3/4) and four small (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 5/8). Lightly squeeze to release any air bubbles (important if you don't want holes in your bread) and shape dough and put in pans. Cover with greased plastic wrap and towels and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.
  9. If using multiple oven racks, rotate loaves, then lower oven to 325 F and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is a medium golden color.
  10. After bread is baked, brush tops with egg yolk and water mixture and return to oven for about 5 minutes. Using a thermometer test the internal temperature -- the bread is down when it reads 190 F.
Jump to Comments (19)

Comments (19) Questions (1)

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11 months ago Victoria G

I think I'd like to read that 1972 recipe. It sounds curiously like mine right down to the anise extract and flat round loaves. Mine only rises 3 times...

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11 months ago Gestur

Cara Vittoria:
Well, Signora, my recipe is pretty long and so I think the hosts of this blog wouldn’t be too pleased if I tried to key it in. Tell ya what, however, since it’s the holiday season and all, I’ve keyed it into a nicely formatted file, made a PDF out of it and if you’d like a copy of it, send me an email and I’ll send it to you. I’ve got to give out my email address, which is no big deal for me; you have to send me an email if you want it, and if that’s a big deal, don’t do it. Va bene?

Valentino ([email protected])

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11 months ago Gestur

Cara Christina:
This is a very interesting panettone recipe and the story is a lovely one too. Thanks so much for both. I came to this site since I have an old recipe for panettone (in English but from 1972) that calls for anise extract and I was curious where and when in Italy anise extract was used instead of the ubiquitous vanilla seen these days. My recipe also calls for the dark and light raisins, but it uses just candied citron (and no pine nuts or candied orange peel). The attraction of this recipe for me, an artisan baker of i pani italiani, is that it goes through 6 rises that span two days, so it approximates panettone made with lievito naturale and so has it’s longer freshness and of course characteristic flavor-notes. Also, it’s a panettone-basso, 8” round and relatively short, as opposed to the tall ones usually encountered. I like it and after a 25 year hiatus during which I baked Carol Field’s lovely panettone, I’m all set to make this again this year with some lovely candied citron-halves from Italy. Buon Natale, Signora, e grazie tante.

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12 months ago SoInconvenient

How long does this keep for? It sounds lovely? Is there a good way to store it?

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12 months ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

This will keep several months in the freezer. My mom always wraps in foil, writes the date on the outside and stores in a plastic bag in the freezer. It's as good as new when we defrost it!

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almost 2 years ago Victoria G

Well, it's love! Our family recipe has citron and glazed cherries, so next time, I'll try adding these to your recipe next time It's lovely with a perfect texture. And easy enough! Thank you!

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almost 2 years ago student epicure

Excellent! Best panettone recipe I've ever made. I could not find anise oil or anise extract at Whole Foods, so used toasted fennel seeds and lemon extract, with delicious, though untraditional, results.

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almost 2 years ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

That is so nice to hear! I love that you substituted toasted fennel seeds and lemon extract -- sounds delicious! I will definitely try that in a non-Christmas batch. Thanks for sharing.

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almost 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

The best panettone's have the texture of a light challah, though it's a bit smoother. They are slightly sweet with the fruit supply the rest, and they are incredibly tender. They make excellent French toast, as long as the slices hold together. I've allowed sliced and cubed panettone get stale and turned that into bread pudding, which is very rich. As far as other containers, I suppose just about anything will do--coffee cans for small ones, or souffle dishes for something a bit larger. But this recipe bakes them in loaf pans, something I've not seen and they look charming. That appeals to me, since the rounds ones make them seem more commercial and less like homemade.

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almost 2 years ago Victoria G

I've always wondered about the Italian traditions with panettone. Our family's recipe include citron and glazed cherries. And again, more dense than the store bought version. It may be a regional shift. The recipe came from my great-grandfather's Chicago bakery.
I'm enjoying exploring this yummy bread. Cubed panettone for bread pudding sounds delightful.

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almost 2 years ago Archizoom

you'll get more fluff and moist with a high protein flour and egg yolks. this one probably needs more eggs. knead the dough first before you fold the butter in. fat substances hamper gluten formation.

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almost 2 years ago Victoria G

The recipe and the story melts my heart! This is very similar to the panettone my family has made since I was little. And I had the same Christmas morning experience, toasted and buttered. Our difference was the pan, we always made rounded loaves on a baking sheet. Two big or four small. I can't wait to give your recipe a try. Ours yielded a more dense bread and I've always heard comments about how panettone should be like a light cake. (A la store bought bread.) Perhaps yours will be somewhere in the middle. Thanks so much.

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almost 2 years ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

Thanks Victoria, I can't wait to hear how this compares to your family recipe!

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almost 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

I have no issues with shortening. My mother's pie crusts were shortening-based and they were delicious. Ma is stubborn about margarine and shortening. She claims she prefers the taste of margarine (which is why I call her stubborn--nobody should prefer the taste of margarine). Anywy, I'm always curious about the science of a recipe. One other question: Could you bake this dough in the standard waxed paper panettone forms that you see with commercial versions?

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almost 2 years ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

I'm sure you could use those panettone forms -- we never have, but that's only because we use the same metal bread pans my grandmother used for years. I don't know how the waxed paper vs. the metal affects cooking time, but if you take the temperature with a cooking thermometer to make sure the center is fully baked (190 F) you should be fine.

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almost 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

I've been looking for a big holiday "project" and fruitcake was never an option. I've been reading panettone recipes for years now and never have gathered the courage to do this. After reading this recipe, I thik I've finally fond my big holiday baking project. I love panettone with orange peel, so I'll use that. But I'll follow the rest of the recipe. Question--why the use of shortening (even though the recipe says all butter is fine)? Thanks.

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almost 2 years ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

I'm thrilled that our family recipe has inspired your big holiday project! To be honest, I don't know why she used shortening. In fact, she wouldn't even measure it out, but would take her wooden spoon and toss in a scoop, but my mom and I estimated it's about 1/4 cup. We still include it when we make our panettone, but I realize not everyone likes to bake with shortening, so we added the note that you could use all butter if you prefer.

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almost 2 years ago meagan.lane

maybe a stupid question - can I scale this recipe down (by mmm, about 75%)? 8 loaves is wayyy too much for this holiday season!

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almost 2 years ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

Meagan, I think you could easily scale this down. When the Food52 team made it for the photo shoot they cut the recipe in half with no problem. The bread freezes really well (wrap in foil and put in a ziplock) so if you do have extras that you don't want to give away you can put in the hard work now and enjoy the bread later -- Easter or a rainy day?