Make Ahead

Date, Fig, and Walnut Panettone

December 11, 2014
Author Notes

It takes time more than anything else to make panettone. But don't let this put you off -- most of it is rising time, where you let the dough do it's thing in a nice, warm place while you get other things done. You may want to consider doing this over two days and letting the dough rise in the fridge overnight for the first rise -- the next day all you have to do is add the filling of raisins and candied fruit, let it rise for the second time and bake.

Before starting, make sure you have eggs and butter at room temperature and the right equipment, particularly the right sized baking tins. I found this the most difficult part of trying to replicate this recipe -- the tin! So I found a way to do it using regular old food tins (four 28-ounce size tins), you could also use similarly sized coffee cans (Carol Field suggests using two 2-pound coffee cans for this amount). You don't need anything fancy for this, but it is quicker if you are lucky enough to have a bread mixer or a stand mixer. I did this by hand (wooden spoons, whisks, and elbow grease) so you can do this with really basic equipment too. A large, wide bowl, preferably heavy (such as ceramic or glass), is handy if you're doing this by hand.

The classic panettone is made with golden raisins, candied citron and candied orange peel. Don't like candied fruit? This is the beauty of homemade panettone -- you can create it how you like it. Substitute the raisins with chocolate chips and the candied peel with chopped, lightly toasted hazelnuts. I've even seen these done with marron glacés (candied chestnuts). But I love this combination of dates, walnuts and figs. —Emiko

  • Makes 4 small panettoni
  • For the dough:
  • 5 teaspoons active dry yeast (36 grams fresh), divided
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons warm water, divided
  • 4 3/4 cups (670 grams) flour, divided, plus extra for kneading and dusting (if possible use half bread flour, half all-purpose flour)
  • 4 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, divided
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups (300 grams) butter at room temperature, divided
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • olive oil or butter for greasing
  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) deseeded dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried figs, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup (80 grams) walnut pieces, roughly chopped
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • grated zest of 1 orange
In This Recipe
  1. Combine half of the yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons of the active dry yeast or 18 grams if using fresh yeast) with 1/3 cup warm water and 1/2 cup (70 grams) flour in a small bowl. Combine until it comes together into a soft ball of dough. Place back in the bowl, cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the yeast and 3 tablespoons water. Add the first ball of dough to this mixture and beat together in a mixer or with hands until well combined. Add 2 eggs, 1 1/4 cups (180 grams) flour, and 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar to combine using a mixer or beating it in with a wooden spoon. Combine 1/4 cup (55 grams) butter until well incorporated. Shape into a ball and cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, at least 1 hour.
  3. Add to the dough the rest of the eggs, the two yolks, the rest of the sugar, honey, and vanilla essence. Mix well using in a mixer with the paddle attachment or beat with a wooden spoon by hand. Add the butter and continue stirring until smooth. Add flour and combine until smooth and thick, a bit like soft cookie dough. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead until the dough holds its shape -- you may need to add up to 3/4 cup flour to the dough to get this consistency.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic, let rise till tripled, 2 1/2 to 4 hours in a warm place or overnight in a cool place such as the fridge (if doing this, the next day you will need to bring the dough back to room temperature by leaving it out of the fridge for about an hour before continuing).
  5. Meanwhile, prepare four 28-ounce (800 gram) food cans by greasing well with butter and lining with baking paper circles on the bottom (trace the bottoms of the cans on the baking paper and cut out) and baking paper on sides.
  6. 30 minutes before the end of the first rise, soak the dates and figs (or other dried fruit, if using) in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain. In a separate bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Stir through 2 tablespoons flour to coat the filling lightly. Add filling to the dough and knead it through the mixture lightly until evenly distributed.
  7. Divide dough into four even pieces (weigh them if you want to be precise). Shape into balls and, seam side-down, slip into the greased and lined cans.
  8. Lightly score an 'X' in the top of each loaf. Cover the cans with a tea towel and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
  9. Heat oven to 400° F (200° C), place panettoni in the oven, and immediately reduce heat to 350° F (180° C). Bake 30 minutes or until the tops are risen, well browned, and a skewer inserted inside comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool in cans for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the panettoni and place them on a rack padded with a few tea towels and lay them on their sides to cool. Once cool, store in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic. They keep very well for a week or more, but if you ask me is best eaten on the first day.

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The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.