The last few years I’ve been searching for a sweet bread to bake that could be a tradition for my family each Holiday season. I had New Year’s down—each year I bake a huge tray of brioche cinnamon rolls to feed to a roomful of hungry breakfast guests, but I just hadn’t found the right treat for Christmas Day. Then I came across Martha’s panettone. Panettone is a yeasted sweet bread, studded with raisins and candied oranges. It originated in Milan, and is typically enjoyed on Christmas and New Year’s. I decided to try it out.
Martha’s recipe is easy to follow, and turns out it’s also very forgiving. I was terribly distracted upon making it; with two little children bouncing around my kitchen, some days following a recipe is harder than others. I had trouble getting the yeast, flour, and sugar to absorb fully into the milk, but proceeded anyway. The dough still came together nicely, even after I finished kneaded it and placed it an oiled bowl, only to realize I forgot to add all the butter. But regardless of that embarrassing mistake (I put the dough back in the mixer and added the butter as directed) the dough ended up being smooth and beautiful. I also was out of raisins, so the next day when I shaped the panettone, I gently added them in (along with some dried cherries).
Both loaves baked up beautifully. Martha’s version has almonds and pearl sugar sprinkled on top, which is a nice addition. I also sprinkled about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar over the tops of each loaf before baking, and I thought it was a nice touch. My only problem with the bread? My loaves caved in as they cooled. I tried Martha’s trick of hanging them upside down between two jars, but they kept falling and it made things worse.
The verdict? My family gobbled down the bread in record time. The panettone has just enough sweetness to make it a treat, and is delicious eaten straight away. We also liked it toasted on the second and third days. If you are looking for something new to add to your Holiday baking list, I highly recommend this beautiful sweet bread.