Golden Panettone

A week later and I am finally blogging about the Golden Panettone.  This must have been the most Facebooked recipe thus far.  Days in the making.  I was in two minds about making this.  A five day recipe or £1.12 at Waitrose?  Panettone is probably Chris' favourite thing, so I pocketed my £1.12 and started reading the four pages of recipe.  Four pages of instructions may shock some, but in retrospect I am surprised the recipe only ran to four pages.  It took for fricking ever to reach the sliced article above.  To be completely fair to Rose, this was more to do with my rubbish planning and recipe comprehension.  If that recipe had been on any comprehension test I would have failed dismally.

Rose provides a warning very early on:  "this is an easy bread to make, and the actual work time involved is not long, however, the production time is lengthy so it does require significant advance planning."  Hence why Facebook was flooded with evidence of advance planning.  My advance planning involved reading the recipe three times the week before.  I am not sure that was time well spent.

Three days prior to making the dough, but note this is not necessarily the same day as the intended baking, we have to make a biga.  I have never made a biga before - the internet tells me that the biga helps to add flavour, texture and longevity to the finished article.

I didn't get a photo of it, but trust me it looked like a lump of dough.  The Biga is a mix of half bread flour and half unbleached flour mixed with a teeny tiny 1/16 of a teaspoon of instant yeast and some water.  The biga was supposed to double in size and be full of holes.  Mine continued to look like a lump of dough.  Albeit a slightly large lump of dough.  This doubling in size holeying process was meant to take six hours at 27 degrees celsius.  After about three hours on the bench, I moved it to my "proving cupboard" where the old cliche of out of sight out of mind meant that I didn't remember about it until breakfast the next day when I reached for a cereal bowl.  I shrugged my shoulders and just thought that maybe I had gone past the holeyness moment.  It smelled yeasty, so I duly stuck it in the fridge to wait for out the three days.
The almost perfect (28.3 degrees rather than 27 degrees) proving cupboard over the coffee machine with 1980's flouro light
Rolling forward to Saturday we come to the making of the sponge.  This was pretty easy.  The biga gets cut up into little pieces to mix into the sponge.  My biga had helpfully formed a concrete like crust, so I had to chip that off to get to something that had a hope of dissolving into the dough.  That meant that my biga was not the stated 78 grams and more like 60 grams (or something close to that - I was channeling inner aussie/kiwi zen at that point- she'll be right).  The sponge is basically a mix of the biga, flour, eggs, golden syrup and a bigger lot of instant yeast (single digit fractions!)
Lumpy bits of biga in my sponge

Then after the sponge, comes the dough.  Exhausted yet?  You can see why I ended up reading this recipe about 40 times.  Onto the dough (ignoring those little lumps of undissolved biga), we sprinkle the top of the sponge with the dry ingredients.  My personal favourite being 14 grams of non fat dry milk. I am now the proud owner of 340 grams of non fat dry milk.  Or 23 more panettones.  Chris is very excited, especially because now I have cracked the seal it needs to be consumed within six weeks.  I think he will very soon realise that I will not be dictated to by manufacturers recommendations and my life will not bound by use by dates.  What does this non fat dry milk powder do to the final mix.  I am tempted to try the recipe again without it, but that would mean I still have 23 panettones to make.

Now Rose says to let this ferment for 1.5 - 2 hours at room temperature.  I got distracted.  It was more like 3.5 hours.  I figured it didn't matter too much.  I figure it looked exactly the same at 1.5 hours as it did at 3.5 hours.  It hadn't grown legs, it was just bubbling away just like Rose said it would.

Bubbling up like a witches brew

It was about now that I realised I should have soaked my fruit in the triple sec, vanilla and orange oil.  I only had Cointreau (aren't we fancy - I think it was actually left over from some other Rose recipe.  An entire litre.).  I soaked a mix of raisins, normal and golden, and cranberries.  I have been emotionally scarred by mother who abhors orange peel.  My emotional scarring is so bad, I don't know whether I actually like it or not.  I decided to overcome this once and for all and made some from scratch, using the recipe in Rose's Cake Bible.  Much easier than going to the shops to buy it.

Home made candied orange peel - I will torture my Mother with it come July when she visits.
My peel didn't get soaked because I actually made this whilst mixing the dough.  The dough is enriched with more eggs and golden syrup and a lot of butter and the drained syrup from the soaking fruit.
The syrup from my fruit soaking
Given I had precisely no liquid from my parched dried fruit, I topped it up with more cointreau and a splash of vanilla

Once the dough is mixed until it is shiny (big tick here) it is meant to rest for 10 minutes.  I am not good with short
spaces of time, mine actually rested for substantially more than 10 minutes.  Probably more like 40 minutes, it was definitely pillow like as I formed my rectangle and laid on the fruit.
Shinier than a Pantene commerical

Probably more pillowy than it should be.

This fruit is then enclosed and stuck back in a container to rise until doubled - 1.5 - 2 hours.

Oiled up and under its shower cap

Doubled or near as dammit.
Then this was refrigerated for an hour so the butter didn't leak out before deflated and then refrigerator for another hour.  As I type this now, I have no idea how I stuck this recipe out for so long.  It is a freaking marathon!

Finally we get to roll it for the second rise.  This was all about the business letter folds and luckily for me not videoed. I really struggle with left and right and even more so when I try to think about it.  There was lots of muttering as I tried to work out 90 degree rotations so that the closed end is facing your left.  Well, probably more muttering about what the closed end was.  Like I said, best I don't think and just do.

No, it isn't over yet.  That greased up bag of dough then goes into the fridge (by now it was late Saturday night - I started about 7am on the sponge) and bizarrely we have to press down on the dough after the first hour and after the second hour.  No chanting prescribed.  It did feel pretty ineffectual pressing down on it, but I did it all the same.

Come Sunday morning and finally it comes close to baking.  Meanwhile I am remaking the chocolate cuddle cake - that is the ganache in the left handle corner of the shot.

Into the mould which I cobbled together from a six inch tin and some baking paper.  This then goes into the proving cupboard until doubled in height - for me this was about 3.5 hours later.
Note, I have chopped the paper down in this shot.
Then finally into the oven.

I wasn't expecting much through the baking process, other than, well, baking.  I am not sure if this is oven spring?  I only heard about this thing called oven spring through the facebook group.  Oven Spring or not, if your loaf is lopsided on rising, it will be lopsided all the way through.  Fact.

Hello there.
But don't think you can just take this out of the oven and call it done.  No, it then needs to rest its delicate bum on a pillow for eight hours.  Not sure why a pillow, it looked robust to me, but hey ho, I wasn't leaving a last bit of molly coddling to chance, so onto a towel covered pillow.

The leaning tower of Golden Panettone

And finally on Monday morning Isaac had Golden Panettone toasted for breakfast.  Chris was too scared to cut into it, so he had to wait until Tuesday morning.

So this Golden Panettone compared to the £1.12 Waitrose panettone?  I for one, was massively impressed that it tasted just like panettone.  And the other bonus is that I think I have finally reversed my emotional scarring on candied orange peel.  I don't hate it, I don't love it, I just think it has its place and I think it was perfect, if a little under represented in my Golden Panettone.  Even though this was  a long drawn out baking exercise, it kind of just ticked along under my subconscious - always surprising me in the warming cupboard at breakfast.

Chris and Isaac are massive fans and would like a loaf each week.  Now that Chris can no longer claim he can't bake, I will be adding this to his list.  I also baked the Chocolate Cuddle Cake, because when I got back from Australia the Chocolate Cuddle Cake was more like a cuddle from an ironing board than a cloud.  Happy to say that I can now concur that the Chocolate Cuddle Cake is a keeper (though Chris' caramel whipped cream was better than mine) - Thomas and Isaac have requested this as their birthday cake.  Patrick, ever the individual, stares wistfully at the White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Mousseline and declares that to be his birthday cake.  I better start practising my icing before the middle of June...
Isaac anticipating Mum's Chocolate Cuddle Cake


  1. Oh what a giggle! This was the best Panettone diary yet! "She'll be right." We need that on Alpha Baker aprons. It think I may have muttered a few swear words in the grocery stores at gargantuan dried milk boxes. It was either king size or super sized jumbo.

  2. LOL! I laughed at your description of Chris chocolate cuddle cake when you returned home. Love how Isaac is looking at your chocolate cake! Your panettone had such good rise in the oven and nice fluffy crumbs too!

  3. Another hilarious post. All your experiences sound very familiar (I also have 340g of low fat milk powder in the freezer). Familiar that is, except for the simultaneously making other baked goods - you're a serious over-achiever by the sound of things. Lucky family!

    Your panettone looks perfect. You must have missed the comments from Rose about the pillow. Apparently the instructions were meant to say 'lean it against a pillow' although Rose sounded a bit vague about the reason for doing this. I picture her laughing away while hundreds of mystified but obliging home bakers sit their panettone on a pillow.


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