Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread. In my house, it is a must for the holidays. We start thinking about it in October ... bake some for Thanksgiving ... and again for Christmas. Occasionally, we make another for New Year's Day. While I'm sure one could make this in a bread machine ... we make ours by hand ... kneading tons of love into the dough. This version leaves out the eggs, butter and milk and replaces them with a guilt-free, planet-friendly ... delicious and festive treat.
I hope you'll try it!
1/2 c. warm water
2 tsp. regular baking yeast
1/4 tsp. real Spanish saffron
1/2 c. regular soymilk
1/4 c. light unbleached or white beet sugar
3 T. good-tasting non-dairy margarine
grated zest of one orange (organic, if possible)
grated zest of one lemon (organic, if possible)
1/2 T. anise seed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pure almond extract
3/4 tsp. salt
2 and 3/4 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
OPTIONAL: 1/3 c. chopped lightly toasted almonds or pine nuts
Add the yeast and saffron to the warm water in a cup and let sit 5 or 10 minutes, until bubbly.
In a small saucepan or a microwave, heat the soymilk until it is just hot, with bubbles around the edges. Add the sugar and margarine and stir to dissolve. When the soymilk has cooled down a bit, add it to the yeast and water. Pour this into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with a bread hook. Place the anise seed on a square of waxed paper and fold part of it over to cover the seeds. Crush the seeds with a heavy rolling pin.
Add the citrus zests (white only), crushed anise seed, vanilla, almond extract, and salt to the bowl. Stir in the wheat germ and 1 cup of the flour. Beat well for a minute or two, then gradually add the remaining flour. Knead with a dough hook or by hand on a floured surface (adding as little flour as you can get away with-- oil your hands and the surface, if necessary) for 5-10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and turn it over to coat the top. Place the bowl in a large plastic bag or cover with a clean, damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
Turn the risen dough out on a lightly-floured surface and pat it out into a flat rectangle. Sprinkle the surface with the dried fruits and optional nuts, if using. Roll up the dough jelly-roll style, then fold up the ends. Knead the dough gently by folding and rolling until the fruit, etc., are well-distributed throughout the dough.
Tuck under the edges of the dough to form a ball. Place this on a greased heavy cookie sheet or pizza pan (or even a large cake tan with low sides). Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With a razor blade, cut a cross in the top of the dough about 1/2" deep. Bake for 30 minutes in the center or upper half of the oven, or just until the loaf is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack before slicing.