Thursday, December 23, 2010
We are carried to the end of December by our noses, led by the rich smells of yeast and spices from the warm oven. Of all these aromatic holiday delights, perhaps the most famous is the cupola-shaped Panettone, a tradition that originated in 15th- Century Milan. As with so many other holiday traditions, along with the yeast, a fanciful tale rose around this bread:
Once upon a time, the Duke's falconer, named Ughetto, fell in love with a baker's beautiful daughter - but of course, his noble family forbade him from courting a working-class girl. He could not keep himself away, and so visited her in secret. Thus he learned that the bakery had fallen upon hard times; his love Adalgisa told him that the baker, her father, was unable to work because of a sick child at home.
The honorable Ughetto immediately began to help in the bakery - but things went from bad to worse: another bakery opened up nearby and business suffered. The falconer decided better bread would bring better business; he sold his hawks to buy butter, eggs, and citron. These he made into an irresistible bread, which he named after the baker: Tony's bread, or Pan de Toni. Eventually, the delicious breads became so popular that Ughetto's secret was revealed, and he and Adalgisa were able to overcome their family's prejudice. They were married in a ceremony presided over by the Duke himself.
I found this version on Cooking Light; it needed some tweaking to adapt to the food desert, but worked quite well in this project. This is not, however, a quick recipe: there are three separate rises, but it gives you an etherially-textured bread that is well worth the time. I also love the nearly-individual serving sizes. they make it easy to pack up as gifts.
2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup orange juice
5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter
orange marmalade, heated and strained - 1 tablespoon of solids
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries and other small or chopped dried fruits as desired (I used golden raisins)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond, lemon, or orange extract (real extract only - avoid bottles labeled "flavor" or "flavored")
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes, and add orange juice. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and whisk until thoroughly combined. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
Combine sugar, butter, marmalade solids, ginger, flavorings and salt in your mixer; whip with the whisk attachment until fluffy. Add eggs, beating until combined and then beat in the yeast mixture.
Turn your mixer to a slow speed, and slowly add 4 cups of flour one at a time. Continue beating until the dough begins to come together and has a silky texture; it will clump in the whisk, but is easy to remove.
Turn out on a board and knead with your hands, adding remaining flour in small amounts until you have a smooth dough. Knead in the dried fruit, folding the dough over itself until the fruit is incorporated thoroughly.
Place dough in a large covered bowl and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. (If you poke it and the indentation remains, your dough is ready.)
Coat 12 muffin tray with cooking spray. Cut 5" strips of parchment paper and create 3" tall tubes (I folded the top and bottom edge down and tucked one end inside the other; make sure you have plenty of excess for tucking.) line muffin tray with the paper and spray with cooking spray.
Divide dough among the lined muffin cups; it's easiest if you make a long, skinny tube of dough and then squash it into place. Sprinkle each bread evenly with nuts. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
After half the rise time is done, preheat the oven to 375°.
Bake the breads at 375° for 25 minutes or until golden brown and delicious.
I wish all of you peace and joy this holiday season - and may the delectable warmth of your kitchen bring that same peace and joy to everyone you hold most dear. Take care!
Labels: The Food Desert Project